Melissa reviews Hearts in Ireland (World of Love) by J.C. Long, narrated by John Steinkamp, ebook Published May 10th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press, 119 pages; audiobook 3 hrs and 45 mins, published June 25, 2018,
Ronan Walker stands at a crossroads, unsure how to pursue his education… unsure if he even wants to. Now that his mother is gone, all he has left are the wonderful stories of her youth in Ireland, and he’s drawn to the land of his ancestors. There, he seeks out his mother’s family and meets Fergal Walsh, who works at Ronan’s aunt’s bookstore. A love of literature facilitates a fast friendship between the two men, and even though Ronan cannot deny the potential—and his desire—for more, he cannot see a future for the two of them when he leaves Ireland. Fergal must persuade Ronan to give school in Dublin a chance—and convince Ronan that his heart has already found its home.
World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.
A complimentary copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this: The blurb for sure got my attention but the story is narrated by John Steinkamp, who narrated another cute story, Catch A Falling Star, and since I enjoyed his narration for that book, I wasn’t going to pass up listening to Hearts in Ireland.
This is a very sweet and romantic story. Ronan is extremely depressed after the death of his mother, and he travels to Ireland – his mom’s homeland – and he spends time with his mother’s family and friends. This is a short story but it didn’t feel that way. Ronan’s love of his mother, his grief and anger over her death, his decision to go to Ireland, meeting the family and then Fergal – the spacing of the storyline was perfect. It takes an amazing talent to pack a lot into a short page count, and not to make it feel rushed.
John Steinkamps narration was perfect for these characters. His range of accents really worked for this and I loved the inflections in his voice; it felt very natural, just as if he was having a conversation. Sometimes when I listen to an audiobook, the narration comes across as very flat and frankly dull – without life – but John’s voice just seems to naturally have this flow to it and it’s like he doesn’t even have to try. I definitely look forward to more books narrated by John, and J.C. Long.
This is my first book by J.C. and if Hearts in Ireland is an example of JC’s talent, I am going to be a big fan.
To give a (very) brief summary of the story, Ronan is basically looking to find himself. He’s been lost since his mother became ill (I think even before that). He put off going to grad school (he was going to be a teacher), and he is stuck being a bartender (which he hates) and when his mother dies, he shuts down; doesn’t go to work, barely eats, doesn’t shower or take care of himself. It was very emotional and I felt so sorry for Ronan. But when he makes it to Ireland and spends time with his mother’s family, and when he meets Fergal, Ronan starts to wake up and decides it’s time to figure out what to do with his life. The expected fight between Fergal and Ronan is tough to see, but I never questioned it. Ronan wasn’t sure what he was doing – was he going back to America, was he going to stay in Ireland, was he going back to college, was his relationship with Fergal simply a result of Ronan’s grief over his mother? So many things in Ronan’s life were uncertain. I just loved seeing Ronan discover himself and finally figure out what he wanted to do. It was just a very lovely story and I would love to read more about these characters again.
4.5 stars/9 pots for the story; 5 stars/10 pots for the narration.
J. C. Long is an American expat living in Japan, though he’s also lived stints in Seoul, South Korea—no, he’s not an Army brat; he’s an English teacher. He is also quite passionate about Welsh corgis and is convinced that anyone who does not like them is evil incarnate. His dramatic streak comes from his lifelong involvement in theater. After living in several countries aside from the United States, J. C. is convinced that love is love, no matter where you are, and is determined to write stories that demonstrate exactly that.
His favorite things in the world are pictures of corgis, writing, and Korean food (not in that order… okay, in that order). J. C. spends his time not writing thinking about writing, coming up with new characters, attending Big Bang concerts, and wishing he were writing. The best way to get him to write faster is to motivate him with corgi pictures. Yes, that is a veiled hint.