The answer to Maggie Montgomery’s dream of seeing America has arrived at just the right time. Not only will she be reunited with her beloved brother Rylan, but she’ll finally be able to escape Neill Fitzgerald and his increasingly unwanted attentions. She’s intent on never returning to Ireland, hoping to build her future in the land of opportunity and perhaps find the love of her life.
While visiting Irish Meadows, she meets an intriguing man she thinks is a stable hand. Only when her brother demands she stay away from Adam O’Leary does she learn he’s Rylan’s brother-in-law, recently released from prison. Nonetheless, Maggie can’t seem to make her stubborn heart conform to her brother’s request.
Adam O’Leary has never felt worthy of his place in the family. Now a free man, Adam’s only desire is to earn back his family’s trust. Falling in love with the newly arrived Maggie, however, was never in his plans. Despite everyone’s efforts to keep them apart, the two develop a bond it seems nothing can break–but they soon discover the past isn’t easy to overcome.
The relationship between Colleen and Rylan was one of the unexpected treasures of Irish Meadows, the first in Susan Anne Mason’s Courage to Dream series. The focus of A Worthy Heart is Rylan’s siblings, Maggie and Gabe, which means readers also get to catch up with Colleen and Rylan three years into their married life. Another character from Irish Meadows making a reappearance is banker’s daughter Aurora Hastings. She has a bigger role this time around, and it’s great to see her character fleshed out. We get to see what makes her tick, so to speak. Adam was also in the first book, but there wasn’t much to him then so he comes across as a new character.
It’s now 1914: the Gilded Age is about to come to an end and war in Europe is on the horizon. Gabe, however, is more focused on a possible civil war between Britain and Ireland. He’s escorted his sister to America, but can’t wait to get back home so he can fight the British. These two historical events aren’t the only ones featured in A Worthy Heart. There’s an appearance from New York City’s most notorious woman of the time. I don’t want to spoil anything, but she causes an emergency at Rylan’s orphanage which results in heartbreak for his extended family.
Even though this is the middle book of a series, A Worthy Heart stands tall. It doesn’t suffer from that second book malaise I often see. The storyline regarding Maggie’s stalker is solid and eventually becomes explosive. I loved some of the descriptions of the romance between Adam and Maggie. I also thought it was interesting that, even though they still suffered from discrimination during this time period, the Irish looked down upon those who’d served time in prison. That perspective provides an additional challenge for the potential couple.
The last book in the Courage to Dream series, Love’s Faithful Promise, will be released later this year.
Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary copy of A Worthy Heart, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read A Worthy Heart? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)
Publication Date: 05 January 2016
Page Count: 400