Monday, July 20, 2015
Back Cover Summary: Irish immigrant James O’Leary has spent his life building Irish Meadows into a thriving horse farm and is not about to let hard economic times threaten its success. He intends for his daughters to marry prosperous men–ones who will secure the family’s rightful place in society, and at the same time, guarantee the future of Irish Meadows. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.
Brianna and Colleen O’Leary know their father expects them to marry well. Yet despite his wishes, Brianna, the quieter sister, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry–as long as her father’s choice meets her exacting standards. When stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from college and distant family member Rylan Montgomery stops in on his way to the seminary in Boston, the two men quickly complicate everyone’s plans. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?
I haven't read anything else by this author, so I wasn't sure what kind of story to expect. It was a surprise in a few ways.
First of all there isn't one main couple and the book isn't focused almost entirely on their story. It's the story of two couples. Neither relationship goes as expected and the relationships are as different as the sisters.
There is also the element of Catholic believers and practices, which isn't something you see a lot in Christian fiction. Since the story revolves around Irish immigrants, it is very appropriate.
I had a hard time with the characters for a while, especially Colleen. She really starts off as a selfish, immature, manipulative... not nice person. I guess she came by it naturally because her father was playing them all like a puppet master. I thought that for immigrants making their way in a new country -- they seemed a little weak willed and too easily led.
The story had a few twists and turns and little surprises but I think the men and the horses are what made me love this book the most. Gil and Rylan are very "swoon worthy" and I think I cried a little with the newborn foal with the bad leg.
The biggest thing for me with books is whether the characters feel like real people. The next is a satisfying ending. The last is a relationship (or in the case two of them) that progress -- not love without any conversation or growth. Irish Meadows satisfies on all counts. This is an author I will seek out in the future.
This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am thankful, but it in no way influenced my review.