Irish Meadows, a novel by Susan Anne Mason, opens in 1911 on a Long Island horse farm owned by the O’Leary family. James O’Leary, the family patriarch, is facing serious financial problems. For him, it is imperative that his daughters, Brianna and Colleen, marry wealthy men. As he finds out, his daughters have minds of their own. Gilbert Whelan was taken in by the O’Leary family when he became an orphan. He returns to Irish Meadows now that he has finished college. He recognizes his obligation to Mr. O’Leary since that is who paid for his education. As much as Gil loves the family and the farm, he has dreams of his own. He and Brianna had been close while growing up. He knew she had a crush on him and vowed not to encourage her now that she was almost eighteen. Brianna thinks she is over the crush and she counts on Gil to help convince her father to allow her to go to college. She comes to realize she may not be over her crush and Gil is forced to recognize that he is attracted to her, as well. Do they have a chance for a future together? Brianna’ sister, Colleen, is a self centered and manipulative young woman with a questionable reputation. Unexpectedly, a distant cousin, Rylan, arrives from Ireland to stay with the family while he studies to become a priest. He is definitely not for her-so she thinks. She might be in for a surprise. As a result of knowing Colleen, he finds himself facing the greatest challenge of his life.
The author brings to the reader a beautifully crafted story. Her characters are well developed and the dialogue is natural. They are involved in complicated relationships and their inner lives are revealed. They grapple with obligations, duty, honor and matters of the heart. Often, they come together only to separate. Old hurts surface. This meaningful story keeps the reader interested all the way to the conclusion.
I received this book free of charge from Bethany House and I give this review of my own free will.