Irish Meadows
By Susan Anne Mason
Published by Bethany House
375 Pages

Back Cover: 1911, Long Island, New York

Faced With an Uncertain Future, Sometimes
All You Have Left Is the Courage to Dream

Brianna and Colleen O'Leary know their Irish immigrant father expects them to marry well. Recently he's put even more pressure on them, insinuating that the very future of their Long Island horse farm, Irish Meadows, rests in their ability to land prosperous husbands. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna, a quiet girl with a quick mind, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry--as long as her father's choice meets her exacting standards of the ideal groom. When former stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from business school and distant relative Rylan Montgomery visits Long Island during his seminary training, the two men quickly complicate everyone's plans.

As the farm slips ever closer to ruin, James O'Leary grows more desperate. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid being pawns in their father's machinations and instead follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?

REVIEW: The cover of this book is beautiful and intriguing It screamed for me to pick it up and look inside. This story is set in 1911- Long Island, N.Y. Gilbert Whelan is a former – stable hand who’s unsure of his future as he returns home from Business College. He’s also unsure about his feelings for Brianna. He remembers her as a young spunky girl who shared his passion for horses, was loyal and made him laugh.

Brianna is thrilled to have Gilbert back. She wondered if he saw her as a woman now.  She needed him to help convince her father to send her to college. She yearned to continue her learn all she could. Her father thought woman should be married and have babies. Why bother with school. Brianna’s only job in her father’s eyes was to marry well.

Brianna’s older sister is Colleen O’Leary who is seriously setting out to do her father proud and marry well.  But as the farm slips closer out of James O’Leary’s ability to keep things afloat he becomes desperate to save Irish Meadows horse ranch. Marrying off his daughters seems to be a viable option and one that needs to happen soon.

Gilbert Whelan who’s trying to avoid Brianna and his growing feelings for her; is torn between his obligations to James O’Leary who is a domineering Father and has high expectations on everyone he encounters.

His wife Katherine is the peace maker, buffer in the house. She’s the glue to keeping the family together with her faith.

Rylan Montgomery is visiting while he studies to be a Priest. He’s a distant cousin who feels very distracted by Colleen O’Leary. He’s fighting his feelings. Colleen is a bit of a brat who uses her beauty to get her way in matters and loves the attention she gets.

I liked Brianna from the start with her aspirations’ for the future. She seeks an education in a time when women were not encouraged to do so and/or have an opinion – an opinion was seen as unnecessary. I grew to like Coleen as the story progressed and I watched her mature as she learned what truly is important in life. Each character struggles to be true to themselves no matter what others demand.

This is an emotional roller coaster of a read as each character struggles to trust God in their life, future, provision, and happiness. A few characters were tortured by their feelings as their hearts longed for love at the same time their minds told them,” I shouldn’t have feelings for this person” – they’d be better off with someone else. It was kind of like “I can’t see you But I have to see you.” It was predictable. The story is told from four points of views Gilbert, Brianna, Colleen and Rylan, which at times was nerve racking!

This is a debut novel and the first of three books in the Courage to Dream series. In the next book the author will be featuring the missing family member, from this novel,  Adam O’Leary. I’m sure the author will have the characters we’ve gotten to know in this novel.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
Book Fun Magazine
The Book Club Network blog


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