While reading this latest installment in Shannyn Schroeder’s O’Leary’s series, Just a Taste, I wondered to myself why everyone isn’t reading these books. I mean, they’re fantastic and probably one of my favorite recent contemporary romance series. So I decided to put together a list of reasons why you should pick them up, and I’m sharing my Top 5.
Janette’s Top 5 Reasons to Read The O’Leary’s
1. Fantastic Writing
At the top of this list has to be Shannyn Schroeder’s fantastic style and delivery. It totally guarantees you’ll get completely lost in the story every single time.
2. Hot Irishmen
Whether you’re looking for tall, dark and Irish or a ginger with a creamy ivory complexion, the O’Leary’s have a guy for you.
3. Family Drama
What’s that saying? You always hurt the ones you love? The O’Leary’s have no shortage of conflict, controversy and sibling rivalry, but at the end of the day I think any one of them would thrown down for another. That kind of loyalty and devotion makes this one passionate clan.
Okay, so this one’s personal. You can take the girl out of Chicago, but you can’t take Chicago out of the girl. I love books that are set in the Windy City, because reading them is like a little slice of home.
Somehow Shannyn Schroeder manages to make romance new and exciting in every single story. The basic idea is the same – a sweet romance mixed with a little bit of tension and heartache – but each scenario is unique and interesting. I just love seeing how things unfold.
Did we mention the hot Irishmen? Here’s a little bit about the newest O’Leary’s story –
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Grief has brought them together again—will love open the door to their future? When it’s an O’Leary in the picture, finding out is just part of the adventure…
Carmen Delgado is left reeling when her father dies. Taking care of him has been her sole purpose for so long, she’s forgotten what it’s like to have dreams of her own. And with steady, sexy Liam O’Leary inheriting a share in her dad’s successful food truck, Carmen is suddenly free to explore her life’s possibilities. She never expected Liam to provide the kind of temptation she’s not sure she can resist…
A talented chef, Liam O’Leary has been itching to open his own restaurant for years—and the death of his mentor is a reminder that time passes too quickly. Gus’s Taco Taxi isn’t exactly what he dreamed of, but he can’t desert Gus’s daughter. Working side by side is an unexpected pleasure—and grownup Carmen is alluring in all new ways. Is love on the menu—or will old fears and insecurities drive them apart?
It’s always the quiet ones.
Liam O’Leary is full of surprises. He and Carmen are thrown together as business partners after Carmen’s father suddenly passes away, leaving each half of his food truck business. From the start their interactions are easy and comfortable. They have a similar demeanor, a friendliness that’s not overly extroverted. They enjoy their quiet and, while they love their large families, relish in taking a little break from the chaos they can bring. It’s clear early on they have the makings of a solid team and possibly a great couple.
I started this book expecting the same sweet romance laced with sexual tension I’ve come to expect from Shannyn Schroeder. Those expectations are definitely met – there’s enough happiness and heartache to go around. But along with it come some very real, very sensitive issues: body image, racial discrimination and prejudice.
Thank you, Shannyn Schroeder, for tackling these issues, because rarely in romance do we see a woman who acknowledges feeling less than sexy or shares real insecurity about her body. Carmen is a very likable character who embodies so much discomfort, uncertainty, and vulnerability. Her struggles with food are easy to relate to for most women, and while they may not be sexy, they’re real. Schroeder subtly hints at Carmen’s struggle early on, gradually escalating until it’s plainly laid out with the enchiladas and Liam’s cheesecake.
In turn, Liam is endlessly patient with Carmen. He sees her for the person inside, and while I’m sure he doesn’t share her opinions, he’s empathetic. This appeals to the inner romantic in all of us, because who doesn’t want to be valued for more than just their physical appearance? I like that Schroeder doesn’t expect Carmen to immediately capitulate and love her body. That type of relationship with food and association with her body wasn’t forged overnight, and any fight to make a lasting change will take time. I know many people argue that a man’s opinion shouldn’t determine how a woman feels about her body, and to an extent I agree. On the other hand it’s simple biology – appearance is usually the first thing you notice about someone. Every species of animals – don’t forget we are technically animals – has some form of attention-getting behavior or flashy coloring to attract mates. Humans are no different. Mating is an inherent instinct, something we’re born to do whether we acknowledge it or not. In that sense it can do some serious damage to someone’s self-confidence if he or she feels undesirable or others act as if they find him/her repulsive regardless of how positive his/her body image. Our culture and society tie sex and romance together in such a way that they’re not mutually exclusive; we often feel to have one you need to have the other. If a girl’s longing for love, she might feel like her sex appeal is the place to start. So complicated this whole romance thing!
One of my favorite parts of this book was possibly the hardest to read. When Liam and Carmen are finally getting intimate, at least once the sexual encounter is less than perfect, something that’s practically taboo in romance but totally perfect in this situation. So much of what happens in that moment really demonstrates the struggle Carmen is having, and I was glad to see that her desire for Liam didn’t just magically fix everything else. Women are insecure sometimes, and this causes them to strategically avoid or manipulate the situation in order to be comfortable. Many romances gloss over this, because really the love of a good man should fix everything, right? I’m happy Carmen has someone who’s patient and kind who will help her learn to love herself and conquer her fears.
As for the racial discrimination and prejudice, that aspect of the story almost caught me off guard. I’m so happy here in my secluded corner of the open-minded world that I often forget everyone doesn’t view the world the same way. Of my grandparents only one was a second-generation American – the others were either children of immigrants or immigrants themselves. I grew up knowing the kind of pride and devotion a family has in their heritage, and I understand the way the old neighborhoods were established in the big city. People didn’t readily mix like we do now; they kept to their own, doing what was comfortable and known rather than try to assimilate or accept the unknown. I hate the way Liam’s mother behaves toward Carmen, but it’s a painful reminder of how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go. Liam and his siblings are a testament to the way attitudes of acceptance are evolving, however slow the process may be.
With the ups and downs of this story, it’s clear the O’Leary’s have plenty of excitment still to come. I always love the way Schroeder continues previous story lines in the background of the main story arc; it’s great to see those characters continuing to evolve. I’m hoping Maggie’s story is next, and I have a good feeling it might be since we’re kind of running out of O’Leary’s. Her book will be a challenging read with her past history of rape, but I look forward to her journey of hope and healing. And Shane. Please let him be a major part of it. For whatever reason I love the strong, protective type.
RATING: BAD ASS BOOTS