Sunday, September 6, 2015

"irish meadows" by susan anne mason

Want two love stories for the price of one? Then check out Susan Anne Mason's Irish Meadows.

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?

Irish Meadows tells the love stories of two sisters: Brianna and Colleen. When the novel began, I was instantly invested in Brianna's story. She yearned for two things: a college education and the love of Gil, the stable hand her father took under his wing and treated like a son. Her father's demands—that she marry an acquaintance for money and social standing and that Gil court the daughter of the man who held the fate of Irish Meadows in his hands—as well as Brianna and Gil's reluctance to defy him kept the two apart for the majority of the novel. Honestly, I quickly tired of the back-and-forth nature of their relationship (which continued even once Brianna's father's demands were no longer an issue), and while I cared a great deal for Brianna and Gil in the beginning, their story didn't interest me so much as the novel progressed.

Colleen's story was the opposite. As the novel began, Colleen was a wholly unlikeable (nearly despicable) character. But as the reasons behind her actions came to light, I began to understand and like her. The appearance of priest-to-be Rylan added much to the novel, and I found Rylan and Colleen's romance to be so sweet and sigh-inducing. In as much as it's possible to fall in love with a fictional character, I fell for Rylan. His devotion to his mother, though a bit misguided, just added to his likeability, and I pulled for him to find happiness.

Overall, I enjoyed Irish Meadows, though I do think I would have liked it more had it focused solely on Colleen and Rylan. Still, it's enjoyable historical fiction, and I'll be looking for the next novel in Susan Anne Mason's "Courage to Dream" series. 4 stars.

Buy the book.

Susan Anne Mason's debut historical novel, Irish Meadows, won the Fiction from the Heartland contest from the Mid-American Romance Authors Chapter of RWA. Also a member of ACFW, Susan lives outside of Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and two children. She can be found online at

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Bethany House Publishers through its book reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. 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."

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