Irish Meadows (Courage To Dream V1) [Paperback]
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Item description for Irish Meadows (Courage To Dream V1) by Susan Anne Mason...Overview
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?
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|Christian Fiction Apr 4, 2016|
|Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason is book two in the Courage to Dream series. From page one the well-crafted story, set in the 1900’s, draws the reader in to the lives of the O’Leary’s. The two daughters of James O’Leary, 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 O’Leary, and visiting distant relative, Rylan Montgomery, in training for seminary, throw a wrench into James O’Leary’s 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 O’Leary’s. I highly recommend this novel which I received through TBCN in exchange for an honest review.
|Lots of people will love this book, but I did not. Dec 22, 2015|
|Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason is about the James and Kathleen O’Leary family and their beloved horse farm named Irish Meadows in honor of their native Ireland. James has run a successful farm for many years, but due to changing legislation and outlawing of horseracing in some states, the tides of fortune have turned and he is facing the loss of his home and business. His solution is to secure the marriages of his two oldest daughters, Colleen and Brianna, to wealthy men. His “adopted” son, Gilbert Whelan, is also to be married off to the local banker’s daughter.|
Colleen O’Leary is a flirt, using one person after another to gain her wishes. She is unmindful and uncaring of who she hurts in the process. Gil Whelan was left in the care of James and Kathleen O’Leary when his mother, the O’Leary housekeeper, passed away. Gil is now returning from college, which was paid for by Mr. O’Leary, to work at Irish Meadows because he feels obligated. Brianna O’Leary is weeks away from graduating from high school and would like to attend college in the fall. Her father has never listened to her or paid her any attention so she hopes to enlist Gil’s help, as a recent college graduate, in persuading her father to consent to her college education. Rylan Montgomery is interning with the local priest Reverend Filmore before taking his own vows as a priest. Because his home is undergoing renovations, Reverend Filmore is staying with his sister who does not have the space to accommodate Rylan. Kathleen O’Leary is a very distant relative of Rylan’s mother who contacted Kathleen to ask if the O’Leary family could house Rylan during his internship.
Although James O’Leary is not the main character in the story, he dominates simply because of the influence he has on everyone else. James is not a Christian, although Kathleen is. Kathleen did not seem to have nearly the influence on the family that James did. James forced Colleen and Brianna into relationships they were opposed to, and he used guilt to get Gil to comply. I can’t say that I really liked any of the characters except Rylan. As Gil and Brianna worked through their relationship, they seemed to cover the same territory repeatedly. An issue was “resolved”, but it wasn’t long before it was back again just in a slightly different form. After Colleen was saved, she became an “angel”. She was instantly sweet and kind. Other than these things, I can’t really put my finger on why I didn’t really care for the book. Am I sorry I read the book? Not exactly, although I probably would not have finished it if I hadn’t needed to review it. Do I plan to read book 2? No. If someone asked specifically about the book, I would probably say it was “ok”. I’m sure lots of people will love this book; I just wasn’t one of them.
I received a copy of this book through The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review.
|Average writing, Amazing story Sep 19, 2015|
|Irish Meadows was a surprising read. It started out some what slow, with an intro chapter that did little to grab my attention, but soon had me fully wrapped up in the family dynamics. Rather than revolving around only one hero and heroine, Irish Meadows has two of each, with the sisters wrecking havoc in each others' relationships. I enjoyed reading about the sisters' romances simultaneously and loved the way Susan wove the four point of views into one story. It was a refreshing read after so many reads where the sisters are at odds due to family complications, and yet only one perspective is shown.|
When I first began reading the book, I did notice some descriptions which are a bit over used in the romance genre. These continued through out the story, but I was able to overlook them because I was completely engrossed in what was going on. While I really enjoyed the honesty of the sisters' portrayal, I have to say that the hero's perspectives were my favorite. Rylan is simply an all around awesome guy and Gil was someone I wanted to see overcome his faults.
Susan Mason admittedly does not have the most unique way with words. Yet she creates characters who are real and honest, allowing the reader to connect with at least one of her many characters. I look forward to reading anything else Bethany House might publish of hers.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
|Great Story, Strong women? Sep 9, 2015|
|"Irish Meadows" was written about 2 young women who are living in Long Island, New York in the year 1911. Colleen and Brianna O'Leary know what they are expected to do. They are supposed to be good Irish girls and listen to their father. He is making them think that they must marry who he picks for them or they will be putting the horse farm called, Irish Meadows", that their family owns in jeopardy. Brianna does not want to get married but wants to further her education. Colleen has different ideas. As the time slips away they are getting closer to losing the farm. Both women have to be strong enough to pick their own futures. Will they be strong enough to fight for their own futures? I give this book a 4/5. I was given this book to review. These opinions are mine.|
|A wonderful read!! Sep 5, 2015|
|Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason was a wonderful book to read. This is the first book that I have read of hers and I can’t wait to read more of them. It was interesting from the very beginning and I wanted to keep reading! Brianna and Colleen O’Leary live on a horse farm. Having an Irish immigrant father who wanted them to marry well puts a lot of pressure on them. Gilbert, who lived with the family for years, returned home. It is expected that he will work for Brianna’s father, and he is excellent with horses. Brianna has always been in love with him. With pressure from her dad to marry someone wealthy, she runs away from home to live with a relative. Brianna wants to get a college education and living with her relative allows this. When Brianna’s dad falls ill, he realizes that there is more to live than riches. Gil talked to the father and reveals that he loves Brianna. Brianna talked him into letting Gil be a partner in the horse farm and they are allowed to marry. In the meantime, Colleen doesn’t have a good reputation with men. A young man, Rylan, who is studying to be a priest moves into town and makes his acquaintance with her. He sees what is good in Colleen’s heart. When Colleen makes a poor choice, her dad makes her go work at an orphanage where Rylan works. She falls in love with the children, and for the first time, is doing something meaningful in her life. She and Rylan fall in love and they end up adopting one of the children from the orphanage. |
I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read another one of Susan Anne Mason’s books!! I got this book free through Bookfun.org for my honest review. I am also posting this review on CBD, this site, DeeperShopping and GoodReads.
|Soon-to-be priest=the worst possible man to fall for! Aug 22, 2015|
|Brianna and Colleen O’Leary couldn’t be more different as sisters or in their choice in men. Their patriarchal family lives at Irish Meadows on Long Island in 1911 and boards and trains thoroughbred horses. With horse racing tracks closing because of anti-gambling legislation, Irish Meadows is in trouble. James O’Leary is under tremendous financial pressure. He grew up during hard times in a discriminated Irish family. Fearing the worst, he lands on the scheme of manipulation to get wealthy sons-in-laws and financial favor. A priest, several neighboring family suitors and Gilbert, a close family friend, bring the girls to determining if they will follow their hearts or their father’s choice.|
I believe Rylan Montgomery was my favorite character. His charm, humor, sincerity and care for people are what make him the perfect soon-to-be priest but the worst possible man to fall in love with. What a conundrum for self-focused Colleen. Her worst secret revealed and healing happening, placed Colleen firmly in my favorite sister position. Plus, Colleen’s character developed the most. Bree and Gil were a bit frustrating with their roller coaster relationship. But, every story has to have a counterpoint and they fit the bill nicely. I loved the horse farm setting and the history of Long Island. Who knew it was first called Gold Coast?
Irish Meadows and Susan Anne Mason were a terrific new author read. I would definitely recommend them and look forward to her next release. I’m not thrilled with Adam, the rebel brother we barely got to know being the protagonist in the next book in the Courage to Dream series. But, Colleen’s transformation gives me a smidgen of hope. And there is curiosity…
I received a complimentary book from Bethany House and The Book Club Network at bookfun.org in exchange for my honest review.
|Loved The Horse Farm And Wanted More Of It! Aug 21, 2015|
|It’s been quite some time that I can remember reading a historical novel. “Irish Meadows” didn’t quite meet up to par for me, but there were quite a few things I enjoyed about it.|
The biggest thing I loved about this book was reading Colleen and Rylan’s story. I had quite a few smiles and giggles while reading, especially when they first meet. It was such a priceless way to introduce a “friendship”! Plus, the healing and journey that Colleen goes through, beside the many tears, was one I easily related too.
The horse farm itself was awesome and actually wish there could have been more written about it. I had no idea about horse farms closing as well as horse racing coming to a standstill due to it being banned. The author did a good job of fueling the father’s actions from this historical tidbit because he was a harsh character that I wasn’t very fond of.
I would say the main reason that this novel didn’t reach my expectations is simply because it was too romantic for my taste. I wanted more historical details and a little less focus on the two couples, which I will mention that I thought was unique in a novel. Despite a few historical details, I thought “Irish Meadows” could mainly be labeled just as a romance with the author’s note including how some things were based off happenings in history.
Overall, this was a pleasant read. I would recommend it to romance readers who enjoy reading about horses and characters having the courage to achieve there dreams.
*(I received this book from the publisher for a book club. I was not required to review it and all thoughts expressed are my own.)*
|Great Premise & Plot, Weak Conclusion... Aug 15, 2015|
|Wander back in time to Long Island, New York, 1911, when Irish immigrants were snubbed and even mistreated. James O'Leary has built a successful horse racing farm, only to find gambling is curtailed and he is on the verge of losing it all. He has two,maybe three, aces in his pocket: two beautiful marriageable daughters,Brianna and Colleen,and one foster son, Gilbert Whelan. Gilbert's last name is apropos for James's and others'actions as they are "wheelin' and dealin'" to get what they consider to be important out of life.|
There are some great faith lessons as well, but I take exception to the theology of Rev. Fillmore, who says, "Everyone who repents of wrong deserves forgiveness..." We would like it to be that way, but the Bible is quite clear we are NOT given forgiveness based on desire, but on the GRACE of God only, once we repent.
Susan Anne Mason, in this first book of the Courage to Dream series, evokes real emotions: distress, fear, greed, love, uncertainty, rebellion, guilt, longing, forgiveness, and conditional vs. unconditional acceptance. I loved the growth of some of the characters over the span of the novel.
Others vacillated so much I couldn't decide if the author wanted to show that not all people grow at the same speed, or if she was just trying to draw out the length of the tome. Most books I finish I feel a soul satisfaction with, I can see why the author did what he /she did, or at least it's obvious the author has set up the real resolution for another book. While I know there are two more stories coming, I was not convinced the people in question are going to be given a whole new book. I am left unsettled, confused, and ready to call for a marriage counselor before certain characters proceed!!
I gratefully received this book from bookfun.org in exchange for an honest review.
|Mixed emotions Jul 29, 2015|
|Irish Meadows is the first book in Susan Anne Mason’s, The Courage to Dream series. This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Mason, so I had no idea what to expect. What I found satisfied, but didn’t go beyond that, as I always hope a book will. I didn’t “hate” this book, but it won’t be finding a place on my keeper shelf. |
Ms. Mason does an excellent job with the descriptions and historical details, but I actually found them overwhelming after a while. In her desire to bring the story to life and color it with words, it ended up leaving me with a sense of bombardment. While I really appreciated her descriptive wording and the imagery it provided, I found myself skimming over the seemingly unnecessary words toward the end. The historical detail is wonderfully done and I appreciated the research time Ms. Mason put into making the story historically accurate, even going so far as to include a letter at the end, noting her discrepancies and the literary license she’d taken.
I have mixed emotions regarding the characters. This was an odd book for me, because I started out preferring one sister and then about half way through the story, I noticed that my affections had changed and I liked the other one better. That being said, I never really disliked either one. Both are interesting and well-rounded characters, though I rarely felt I connected with them. The story does come from Brianna’s perspective a little more often, but I actually found more depth in Colleen’s and felt I knew her better. I really liked both of the heroes. While very different characters, they both have all of the marks of great heroes. I honestly did have a preference, though I won’t share which, lest I affect your opinion before you read the book.
I’m sorry to say that I found the spiritual side of the story rather lacking. Though prayer is touted often and God appears a key component, I didn’t see much change in Brianna or Gilbert. Colleen is definitely the redemptive story here and I loved watching her grow and change. That being said, we didn’t actually witness much of the transformation. It was almost like flipping a switch, the way her behavior changed. And though prayer is the often recommended method of working through problems, there was a lack of follow through. They may pray about an issue, but then they handle it themselves, without considering the consequences or God’s will until much later. Which, truth be told, is probably what we all do. I just wanted to see some instances of faith in action, rather than simply talking about it.
The romance was interesting and wasn’t overwhelming, what with so many other things going on, but toward the end it simply felt drawn out. One couple had everything worked out (for the most part), but the other was still being pulled apart by slight misunderstandings. I found the lack of communication annoying and it definitely altered my opinion of that particular heroine. She seemed more and more self-centered and I found her very irritating. It was realistic for a while, but after about the fifth disagreement, it just became frustrating. I wanted someone to sit them down and tell them to work it out. I really wanted to skip the last twenty or so pages, but I had come so far, I didn’t want to give up then.
If I’m being completely honest, I have to admit that my biggest point of discord with this story is the fact that it reminded me of a series by one of my favorite authors and that comparison undoubtedly ruined me for loving the book. So, anything I comment on, please, take with a grain of salt. This story is actually very little like the others, but there were just enough similarities for it to catch my attention and bother me for most of the book. The authors have very different writing styles and even with the major differences, my mind kept going back and forth, making it very difficult for me to really get into the story. I’m not sure there’s anything Ms. Mason could’ve done differently so that I wouldn’t have had that problem, short of changing the entire book.
My parting opinion is this: I don’t regret the time I spent reading this book, though I am sorry I didn’t enjoy it more. I honestly doubt I will read the rest of this series, solely because of my comparison issue. I would recommend this book to those who love historical fiction and are looking for a unique read.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.
|A wonderful young romance! Jul 21, 2015|
|I thought Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason was a wonderful story of family and young love. It really did take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid being pawns in their father's demands and follow their hearts. Brianna and Colleen O'Leary both fall into the family drama of their father's search for wealth and power. They didn't know the family home was in trouble financially. Colleen used her beauty to get her way until her father arranges a marriage she does not want and she causes an unladylike scene. Her punishment was to work in an orphanage with a soon to be priest. Brianna is smart and wants to go to college but her father thinks she should marry a rich young man she dislikes. She is in love with Gilbert Whelan who has become a part of her family after his parents died, but her father has other plans for Brianna and for Gilbert. I enjoyed all the drama these young ladies caused with their headstrong ideas and actions. Most by their controlling father. They both had some hard lessons to learn and although their story isn't full of action it was a wonderful story of two romances and all the obstacles they had to overcome to follow their hearts. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it as a story of family, faith, courage and sweet young romance. I received a Review Copy from Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion I have expressed is my own.|
|A lovely historical Jul 18, 2015|
|Irish Meadows, by Susan Anne Mason, takes place in the early 1900s on a horse farm on Long Island, New York, named Irish Meadows. I easily sunk into the time period and the lives of sisters, Brianna and Colleen O’Leary. They each much follow an undetermined path…but will they follow their father’s wishes, or their hearts?|
Brianna bit her lip and shrugged. “Seems Daddy’s determined to find me a suitable husband.” Her mood darkened at the mere mention of a future she didn’t want. Why couldn’t Daddy understand that marriage wasn’t the only aspiration a woman could hold? ~Irish Meadows
There are many characters in this story, but I was especially drawn to Brianna. I enjoyed how the author created sisters that have contrasting personalities. They often clash, but this makes them believable.
The O’Leary family dynamics aren’t ideal, but their faults are credible and the tension is palpable. This makes the characters come alive, and kept me reading. Although they weren’t always very likeable, and I had to stretch my sympathetic heartstrings a little more than usual, I enjoyed this book and its underlying message—God has a plan for our lives and it’s our responsibility to fulfill that plan by utilizing our heads, but following our hearts.
First line: Late-afternoon shadows chased Gilbert Whelan up the long drive to the O’Leary mansion.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a Review Copy from Bethany House and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The options I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
|Best book I have read this year! Jul 14, 2015|
|As I turned the first page of Irish Meadows, I was immediately drawn into the story. It didn't feel like a story at all...more like I was watching this family up close and personal. I was drawn in by the cover and the fact it was a redhead (so am I). Obviously about this Irish family (me too) and was pleasantly surprised to see they were from Long Island. This is where I grew up and my first historical Christian book based on that area.|
As I turned from page to page I was swept into the saga and all that was going on with this family. The O'Leary family seems perfect on the outside. It started out with a bit much of romance for me and I was worried at first. Mason skillfully draws you into this family. She paints a perfect visual of each one, their emotions and personalities. I fell in love with Brianna and didn't care for her sister or father at all. Mason didn't leave things on the surface. She really did such an amazing job of bringing each one full circle.
I really liked seeing the sisters grow. Jealousy and heartaches of past kept them apart and Mason certainly shares God's mercy, grace and forgiveness. Trust plays a big part as well. I felt that it was like she could read her characters thoughts and exactly what one would feel in the situations. I wish I could express what this book is like. I was really touched by several parts and it ministered to my heart.
She portrays a struggle for Brianna in that era. She so wanted to further her education and the pressure she felt to marry well, women didn't need education as it was a waste of time. Choosing between her dreams, her father's will and love. It was so true to that period and still relevant today.
There was not only one romance, but two. Twists and turns leave you reading to the wee hours of the morning...almost wishing to prop your eyelids open with toothpicks just to read one more chapter.
I honestly cried and laughed out loud in several parts of the book. Especially with the orphans. I have such a soft spot for them.
I appreciated the men that Mason created for her girls. I just loved them both. What level headed, real men they were. Rylan's personality was great and so unexpected. I cheered for Gilbert and Brianna and understood the ups and downs.
Their father I wanted to thrash! I cannot stand those that use others like their personal pawns. Mason again, brings God's mercy into play. God is a God of second chances.
I was blessed to read this book. I hope you take a chance on a new author and feel the exact same way that I did. I cannot wait to read the next to books in this series and see what happens. I sent my copy to a friend and now will buy another as I want it to go on my keeper shelf!
I absolutely loved this book..I cannot say enough about it. Please give it a try, I know you won't be disappointed.
|An Excellent Historical Romance! Jul 9, 2015|
|Susan Anne Mason has completely enthralled me with her new novel, Irish Meadows. While this is the first book I have read by her, I am eager to read her upcoming installment in this Courage to Dream series—I only have to wait six more months!|
I will admit the cover is what attracted me to the book; it usually is. But from the first chapter, I found myself engrossed in the tale of a large Irish family and the dynamics involved in it. This story centers on the two oldest daughters, Colleen and Brianna, very different women who have definite ideas about the path they want their lives to take. While it took me a while to warm up to Colleen, I enjoyed Brianna’s character from the beginning. The heroes, Rylan and Gilbert, were likeable as well, and I appreciated how all of the characters were multi-dimensional. Even some of the minor secondary characters contained unexpected depth, surprising me with various twists to add interest to both the plot and their individual personalities. There are heartbreaking histories to many of the characters, shaping their motivations in an unseen manner until we learn some of the backstory.
I valued the strong spiritual thread throughout the novel. Several characters are Christian to begin with; some are backslidden while others remain strong and help to mentor and guide others along. Faith, sin, guilt and forgiveness (both from God and from man) all come up in many ways and the ideas are examined from multiple angles. Themes of honor and integrity are also addressed, and the recurring question of “how far is too far?” is tackled with grace while still showing the consequences of the actions.
One of the historical aspects I enjoyed was reading about Brianna’s desire to further her education and feeling as if men made all of the decisions in her life. I appreciated her pull between love and education, showing how it could often seem an impossibility to attain her dreams in the world she lived in. It even speaks to some of the same pressures women feel today to “have it all” as it relates to work and family, and I loved that despite its historical setting, the book still felt very relevant to today.
The romance, though, has to be my favorite part of this book, and I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to read two stories of true love within this one novel, without it seeming either rushed or glossed over. While the paths the individual love stories take are very different, I really enjoyed how they intertwined, even helping the sisters to grow closer and understand each other more fully. The exchanges between the two couples are beautifully written, natural, and very romantic, with several swoon-worthy kisses!
I would highly recommend this book for fans of historical fiction as well as romance readers—I believe it will appeal to both in equal measure, even if they may not usually like to mix their genres. I enjoyed the multi-layered feel to the novel and the way things fell into place as I continued to read; it was realistic and believable while remaining an entirely delightful journey to take. This is a fantastic read and it has found a place on my keeper shelf!
I received copy of this book from the publisher and author in exchange for this honest review.
|Filled with masterfully written characters. Jun 30, 2015|
|This book is filled with a complete cast of incredibly well developed characters. I connected so completely with a number of the young adults from very early on. So much that I need to get my feelings for the father, James O’Leary out here at the beginning. Many times during this story I wanted to shake the man and tell him, “These are people, your own daughters, with feelings and dreams of their own.”|
The young adults struggle with a number of conflicting emotions throughout the book. They are trying to figure out their feelings as well as God’s plans for their lives. Most of the older people share a lot of sensible advice with them. A lot of it is encouraging them to seek God for direction. At times some of the younger adults also have incredible words of wisdom to impart to each other.
The story captured my interest from very early on. At no time did I lost interest in it or want to even take a break from this novel. It is a wonderfully well written story. I am definitely looking forward to Susan Anne Mason’s next book.
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.
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