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?
Continue reading to get my opinion of Irish Meadows. There’s also an excerpt from the book and information on a Kindle giveaway.
Here’s a Gilded Age novel that isn’t set among New York’s high society. It’s 1911 and James O’Leary of Long Island is determined his children will have everything he didn’t have when growing up. Unbeknownst to the family, however, his horse farm is failing. As much as he loves his children, he’ll need them to marry well in order to save the property. As such, he arranges betrothals for his two oldest daughters and favorite adopted son. The girls know nothing of the financial situation, but Gil is aware of the scheme into which he’s been coerced by James. Colleen schemes her way out of her engagement and Bree manages to end hers by making a life-changing decision.
There are some elements in Irish Meadows that we’ve seen in other novels set in this era. There’s an orphanage, the differences in life between rich and poor, and even a horse farm. What caught my attention, however, was the church denomination involved. We didn’t have a young pastor having a crisis of faith but instead a seminary student caught between love and the church. I don’t recall reading any other Christian novel set in the USA that featured the Roman Catholic Church. The result is probably obvious, but it was interesting to read about the journey to it. The characters are intriguing: James O’Leary has a strange notion of who’s family and who isn’t. He might be head of the household, but his longsuffering wife doesn’t let much past her unless it’s business-related. Meanwhile, I found myself preferring Colleen over Bree. The older sister isn’t likeable at first but she grew on me and I think she had the better storyline.
Overall, this is a good debut novel and one which kept me entertained. There is a second book in the works concerning James’ oldest son, Adam. It’s called A Worthy Heart and Amazon has a release date of January 2016.
Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group and Bethany House for my complimentary copy of Irish Meadows, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read Irish Meadows? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)
Publication Date: 07 July 2015
Page Count: 384