Disclaimer: Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason was provided by Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.
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?
I don’t know if it was because of the horses or not, but I actually really enjoyed Irish Meadows. It was still as formulaic as most of these review copies are, and nothing was particularly new—but I liked what Mason did with the characters and I liked the characters themselves, especially Colleen.
Brianna’s and Gilbert’s relationships (and their characters themselves) were nothing new (and, in fact, I got increasingly annoyed at the “I like him/her, but I can’t show it, but I just can’t help myself and I’ll show it anyway” back-and-forth throughout the novel, and Gilbert’s lack of spine), and in fact there were several times when I wondered if their relationship was just there to pair off the characters, especially in the more dicey bits when I thought, “Wow, this isn’t really healthy at all.” But Mason does have their relationship in a place at the end that I think is realistic and good for both of them.
But I loved Colleen, and her relationship growth with Rylan, because that is the sort of thing I like to read: not a “wham, bam! He’s handsome! I love him!” type of thing, but more of a slow burn where the characters actually interact and talk with each other and grow their relationship from that. And Colleen’s character growth, in particular, is quite heartbreaking, and it’s quite fulfilling at the end to see her really come into her own and move forward with hope and joy and love.
So, yes, Irish Meadows doesn’t really establish anything new and it’s formulaic and predictable—but I enjoyed it all the same, mainly because of Colleen’s arc. And Brianna and Gilbert, though annoying at first, do get better—and so does their relationship, which is a good thing.
My rating: 4/5
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian
You can buy this here: Irish Meadows