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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?
Number of Pages: 384
Vendor: Bethany House
Publication Date: 2015
|Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)|
Series: Courage to Dream
anselSterling, VAAge: 55-65Gender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5Fabulous Dynamic Christian Family SagaFebruary 14, 2018anselSterling, VAAge: 55-65Gender: FemaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5From cover to cover Irish Meadows by Susan Ann Mason is a dynamic christian saga about the O'Leary family who own a race horsing farm on Long Island, NY in the early 1900s. The family is made up of James, the father, who is proud and domineering, Kathleen, the mother, who is the glue with her faith, Colleen, eldest daughter, who uses her beauty to get her way, Brianna, middle daughter, who is scholarly and a dreamer, Adam, oldest son, who is resentful of adopted son, Gilbert, adopted son, who feels indebted to James and will do anything for him, Rylan, distant cousin, who is visiting while studying to be a priest, and Deirdre and Connor, two younger siblings, who are good and a little mischievous. The story centers around the two oldest daughters, Colleen and Brianna. Their ins and outs with their father, loves, and faith. Overall Colleen and Rylan's story deeply moved me emotionally. One minute I was wanting to laugh, then scream or cry, and finally tranquillity.
Susan Ann Mason wrote a noteworthy work of art for her first historical novel. I applaud you, Susan, for writing such a devoutly awe-inspiring book about a family and their faith. All of the characters were well developed, and I was impressed that a story written from four different views flowed so smoothly, with several twists and turns from beginning to end. Your story left me wanting more and I cannot wait until I can read Adam's story. I look forward to getting to know him better in the future.
I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a well crafted fabulous christian family saga with two delightful romances.
I was sent an ARC copy of Irish Meadows by Susan Ann Mason for an honest and impartial review. This review was originally posted on Goodreads July 29, 2015
jacquiRIllinoisAge: Over 65Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Irish MeadowsApril 4, 2016jacquiRIllinoisAge: Over 65Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason is book two in the Courage to Dream series. From page one the well-crafted story, set in the 1900s, draws the reader in to the lives of the OLearys. The two daughters of James OLeary, an Irish immigrant father and owner of Long Island horse farm, Irish Meadows, well know that he expects them to marry successful men from wealthy families to ensure the stability of the farm. Yet, what he wants and what their hearts desire vastly differ.
Gil Whelan, long-considered a part of the family, just returned from business school paid for by James OLeary, and visiting distant relative, Rylan Montgomery, in training for seminary, throw a wrench into James OLearys plans for arranged marriages that will save the future of Irish Meadows. The independent daughters have minds of their own and insist upon following their own dreams.
As I finished this captivating story, I was glad that I had in hand book two of the series, A Worthy Heart, to continue the interesting saga of the OLearys. I highly recommend this novel which I received through TBCN in exchange for an honest review.
loriwellerLancaster,PaAge: 55-65Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Great Book!February 11, 2016loriwellerLancaster,PaAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Irish Meadows is the first book in the Courage to Dream Series. It is set in the early 1900's in New York on a horse farm. The story line is easy to follow and full of ups and downs. The characters are easy to relate to. Their family life is full of difficulty, anger, love, faith, heartbreaks, and forgiveness. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
I received the book from the Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.
GazpachoHarrison, MIAge: 55-65Gender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5Challenges are all around us, within usFebruary 10, 2016GazpachoHarrison, MIAge: 55-65Gender: FemaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5The author, Susan Ann Mason, has skillfully created a world into which we can feel comfortable. The two main characters, Brianna and Colleen, could be our sisters, realistically endearing and frustrating simultaneously. Brianna feels she has grown up in Colleen's shadow, her father's favored daughter. Nothing she did seemed to gain his respect. Colleen is the sister we love to hate. She is bold, brash, flirtatious, the apple of her father's eye, and always on the prowl for rich, handsome bachelors. She played with them and even pit them against each other. Brianna, on the other hand, wanted to attend a university in the fall. She had no use for men at the moment, although her daddy wanted her to get married to a suitable (prosperous) gentleman as soon as possible.
But then Gilbert Whelan returned to Irish Meadows after three years at college. Gil grew up on the farm, the son of the O'Leary's housekeeper. When she died, James O'Leary took in Gil and treated him like a son. He was big brother to all the rest of the five O'Leary children. Adam, the eldest son, resented Gil for that. Brianna wanted to enlist Gil's aid in convincing her father to allow her to further her education. But it became a more complicated situation when she discovered her feelings for him were no longer brotherly. Gil himself has felt the stirrings of love for Brianna. When he finally gained the courage to approach James, his mentor and father figure, he was flatly refused. The reason shook him to the core.
One day a distant relative of mother 0'Leary's came to stay with the family for awhile. Rylan Montgomery needed a place to stay for a few months while he worked on his internship. His goal was to become a priest. It was Colleen's duty to ferry him around until he became familiar with the area. When her father caught her in a compromising position one evening, he "sentenced" her to working with Rylan at the orphanage. This was truly punitive for Colleen since she hated all things religious, including priests, church and orphanages. However, working with Rylan day after day brought about subtle changes to her heart. She began to enjoy working with the children. In introspection, she questioned her previous dubious behavior. And...she fell in love with Rylan. Colleen's world was turned upside down. Family dynamics, secrets, disastrous emotional upheavals and more make this book an intriguing read.
There's a lot to like in this book. First, the Point of View (POV) is key to how the author develops tension and suspense. There are four Points of View: Colleen's, Brianna's, Rylan's, and Gilbert's. This author manages to blend them so well that she avoids the disjointed feeling so common in books with so many POV's. I feel these points of view are what keeps this storyline moving along without stalling for lack of action. That's excellent characterization.
Second, the four main characters all have a crisis of heart to meet, deal with, and resolve. Even the secondary characters, Kathleen and James O'Leary, the parents, had to face issues themselves such as what really mattered in life, and how to handle secrets within a family unit. Each issue felt real, urgent, and relevant for today even if the source is a historical novel. I found each of the conflicts plausible and could relate to many of them myself. The author manages to create believable people we can become akin to and care for.
Third, this is a faith-based book. I love how each voice dealing with an issue was facing something that included a crisis of faith, as well as heart and home. When a faith issue has to be dealt with, even though it may be an entirely private matter between you and God, it does affect those around us because what we believe leads to how we live our lives. That is how this author presents each character's conflicts. When we are privvy to their thoughts, feelings and the process of resolution within, we appreciate them more for their struggles, even if they are still a flawed individual. I enjoyed the process as I read along, because what they struggled with was thought-provoking and insightful. And since most of this was internal, none of it sounded even remotely like preaching or finger wagging. Rather, I felt blessed to gain a glimpse through the window of their souls. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series which will give us Adam's story.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy (ARC) of this book from Bethany House Publishers. 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 Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
JeaniePhoenix, AZAge: 55-65Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Seeking God's WillJanuary 17, 2016JeaniePhoenix, AZAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Irish Meadows is the dramatic first novel in Susan Anne Masons Courage to Dream series. A historical womens fiction drama set in a time period among the more socially elite, that Ive have not read many of; it exceeded my expectations and has me eagerly awaiting the second in series.
Brianna and Colleen OLeary are the teenagers and first-generation Americans on Long Island, New York. Their father had come from Ireland, worked hard and eventually came to own his own horse farm and stable where horses were bred and potential racing champions made. In a time when it was all about showing financial prosperity to any and all, their father was having serious financial challenges and tried to save his farm partly through making excellent marriages for his daughters. Men of class and distinction. Men who could be helpful to his flagging property.
At first I didnt like Colleen, the 1911 version of a party girl, all that well. She seemed too spoiled, too fussy. Brianna was the quieter of the two, the one who wanted to attend college as her friend Gilbert had, and it seemed to me she had the heart and endurance of a great racehorse. She had substance, while Colleen had fluff. When their father began to look for eligible, useful men to marry them off to, lesser young women would have caved.
Gilbert, taken in by the OLearys as a lad, was happy to return to the horse farm for the short term, wanting to do something to put his new degree to work. As the girls protested their fathers desires for their marriage. Gilbert took a job he didnt want so he could make a good marriage with a young woman whose father had the right business connections for the OLearys. It is hard for me to imagine a world where daughters and adoptees were used as pawns to better the condition of their father in this case, save the floundering horse farm and stables.
My favorite was Brianna, then her Aunt Fiona. They both had a depth of character that I liked, even though different for that era. While I liked Gilbert, I was disappointed that it looked as though he would marry for business sake. My opinion of Tessa did an about face when she, too, proved to have a depth that was borne of the leading of her mother, as well as a certain young man who she thought to be a priest. Their mother, a woman of faith and a wife of her times, was also a woman of depth and strength. Im not sure there is anyone I truly disliked, as even James OLeary showed himself to have become a weak man to be pitied, but was not too old to learn. Except, perhaps, for the frequently missing reckless brother who could do no wrongunless he was caught.
What a story this author can weave! It was never dull; one chapter led into another as I felt compelled to continue reading. The plot twists and changes, some of which truly surprised me, continued to change the course of the outcome. The result was a satisfying story of faith, courage, and love that leaves the reader eager for more. I highly recommend Irish Meadows to all who appreciate Christian historical novels they can share with their teenage daughters, those who enjoy romance, strong women, and drama.
With a grateful heart, I received a copy of this book through the For Readers Only group at The Book Club Network, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.