Beyond the Cliffs of Kerry follows Darcy McBride, a young Irishwoman, from her home in the seaside town of Kilkerry to the American Colonies, where she is sold as an indentured servant following her arrest as a smuggler. Of course, Darcy is drop dead gorgeous (apparently the only gorgeous woman in the entire world) despite spending many of her developmental years in the midst of a famine, and everyone wants to have sex with her. While I liked the overall story of this book, it was incredibly slow getting off the ground; Darcy doesn't even get caught until a third of the way in, and then there's a ship voyage before she gets to the colonies, too, all of it in incredible detail. Except that detail isn't really a good thing in this particular book, because Hughes just dumps it all in your lap and tells you what's going on; there is absolutely no emotion in this book, and there should have been emotion. Tons of it. There are several instances of rape or attempted rape, betrayal, heartbreak--and through it all, Darcy and everyone around her appear to remain mostly flat and emotionless, making what could have been a riveting tale somewhat difficult to read. You can't just tell me "She was in love with him," because what does that even mean? I want to know how he made her heart beat faster in her chest, how she found it hard to breathe around him, like someone was squeezing her lungs--things that I can empathize with. But no, there's none of that. And even in the wake of two rapes, Darcy doesn't really seem to care. Hughes says later that "Darcy was terrified of rape" but she does absolutely nothing to show us that Darcy was terrified of rape. Nothing. Nothing at all. It was just...flat.
There are also significant grammar problems in this book, mainly in the "unnecessary comma" department, which makes the sentences seem choppy and stilted, and the "missing and extra quotation marks" department, which makes it a bit unclear where dialogue begins and ends. This could definitely do with another good editing.
I did, however, like that Hughes set the book during what we here in the US call the French and Indian War (I believe it's the Seven Years' War in other places?) because it is a rather underutilized time period in historical fiction.
2 stars out of 5.