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Irish Meadows (Courage to Dream) by Susan…

Irish Meadows (Courage to Dream)

by Susan Anne Mason

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I am loving this series. I have checked out #2 and #3 from my library. I love the genuineness of the characters. The story line is one that kept me reading into the night. This first one follows two sisters and their father's wish for them to marry well. The suitors he chooses are men his daughters do not love. Enjoyed how the romances changed over the course of the book. ( )
  rjmoren | Sep 5, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I am a very avid Christian fiction reader. I love historical fiction, and I waited expectantly for my copy to come in the mail. But for some reason, I didn't enjoy this book. Frankly, I found it boring. I had to start it over 10 times before I got through it. I felt the plot was slow and disconnected. I felt no connection with the characters, which always made me close the book. ( )
  JaymeWill | Oct 30, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The author, Susan Ann Mason, has skillfully created a world into which we can step, gaze around, and 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 has no use for men at the moment, although her daddy wants 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 becomes 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 enjoying 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 the action stalling. 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 believable and could relate to many of them myself.

Third, this is a faith-based book. 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 Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." ( )
  Beverlylynnt | Feb 9, 2016 |
I received a copy of this book from book fun.org for an honest review

I was so excited when I received this book. The cover was breathtaking and having never read a book from Sisan Anne Mason before, my expectations were high. I definitely was not disappointed in this story at all. The author takes us back to 1911 in Long Island , New York. The history written in the story was a highlight for me. I love books that transform a reader back to an era with a subtle use of words.

Brianna is a young woman who has a love for horses and is quite a lovely person to look at. She has a deep desire to go to college but her father has other ideas for her. Colleen the other sister is anxious to marry and seems to be a bit more strong willed than her sister. Their father is a strong almost controlling man who causes anxious moments for his two daughters. They both must find strength and endurance to overcome obstacles that could deter them from their destiny. Will they find the right man to marry? Does Brianne get to follow her dream of going to college?

Their father becomes desperate when he feels like he is going to lose the horse farm . He thinks that his two daughters should marry men with money in order to help save "Irish Meadows." As I read the story I began to think about how our Heavenly Father wants the best for us, but we sometimes ignore Him. There were many conflicts the family needed to address and I liked how the author wrote with grace as the characters worked through them.

At the end of the story one of the characters were explaining to Brianna the mistakes he had made. This is the man that Brianna has always been in love with. He says," The other mistake I made was forgetting what is truly important . I didn't keep God in the middle of our relationship." That statement really made me think . Do we remember who needs to be in our relationships we have ?

I must thank the author for a story that is rich in history, characters that had flaws and how they overcome them with guidance from God. There are other characters in the story that I didn't mention, but I encourage you to pick up this book and fall in love with the O'Leary family and journey with each of them through a breathtaking story . ( )
  Harley0326 | Sep 13, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I love reading historic books, and Mason does a good job of taking you back to the 1911 time period, and right in the middle of this family's struggles. But no matter the time period, family dynamics are little changed....... The characters were interesting and you found yourself siding with them at times, and irritated at other times. I did find the change in Colleen welcome, but sudden......but I guess people sometimes have a 'wake up ' call, and she had hers! The romance parts were nicely done, but the story was so much more than a romance novel. This was an excellent first book, and I look forward to reading the series, and more by this author!
  macnoid | Sep 9, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0764217240, Paperback)

1911, Long Island, New York

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?

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 01 Jul 2015 15:08:37 -0400)

"At the renowned Irish Meadows horse farm in New York, 1911, sisters Brianna and Colleen O'Leary struggle to reconcile their own dreams with their father's plans for the farm and his demanding marriage expectations"--

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