Irish Meadows

Irish MeadowsIrish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason
Series: Courage to Dream
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Bethany House on July 7, 2015
Pages: 384

 

It’s 1911, and the O’Leary sisters – Brianna and Colleen – are happy with their lives on their beloved Long Island horse farm, Irish Meadows. Recently, however, their father has started to hint that he expects them to marry for money, and hanging on to Irish Meadows during an uncertain time might just be the reason.

The girls, though, have other dreams. Brianna is a bright girl who wants to attend college after she finishes her high school studies. Colleen would be happy to settle down and marry, but she’s not sure if the one her father picks would live up to her expectations of the perfect groom.

When former stable hand, Gilbert Whelan, returns to Irish Meadows and a distant relative, Rylan Montgomery, visits, things become even more complicated.

Will the O’Leary sisters ever be able to pursue their dreams, or will their father be the only one to determine their futures?

As I started reading Irish Meadows, I was immediately taken back to 1911 on a Long Island, New York, horse farm. The writing is very descriptive and really captures the scenery and atmosphere of this time and place.

As I started reading Irish Meadows, I was immediately taken back to 1911 on a Long Island, New York, horse farm. The writing is very descriptive and really captures the scenery and atmosphere of this time and place.

As I kept reading, I realized that the only plotlines were going to be ones about the romantic relationships between Gilbert/Brianna and Rylan/Colleen. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, I usually prefer for my historical romance to have a few more interesting things going on around the romantic storyline. Even so, I decided to keep reading to the end to see where things went.

Brianna and Gil’s relationship was one that went back-and-forth throughout the story and sometimes seemed contrived, especially at the end. I actually didn’t really like their relationship to begin with anyway. It seemed as if they spent more time not liking each other than actually liking each other!

The relationship between Rylan and Colleen was definitely the more interesting of the two. A man studying to be a priest having to decide whether or not he should give up his commitment to the church for love is a compelling romantic plotline. If I had to pick a favorite character, it would be Rylan. I liked his easygoing personality, and I appreciated his struggle.

As for the spiritual aspect, I really had a hard time with how it was portrayed in this novel. God was mentioned quite a bit – praying to Him and turning to Him in times of need – but Jesus was barely discussed. One character even turns to God, but it all happens without any reference of Christ and His sacrifice for sins. I just think it’s dangerous to portray salvation without mentioning the cross and what Christ did for us.

I also thought that there were many portions of the novel that focused on clichés and drama rather than reality.

Now, I am not someone who has to have her Christian novels filled with salvation experiences and preaching. I realize that a book can just be a good, clean novel that is enjoyable. But if the book brings up spiritual aspects, I expect them to be based on truth and include Christ. It is Christian fiction, after all. As an example, at one point this statement is made: “What [Rylan] needed was absolution – to confess his offense to a priest and receive a clergyman’s counsel. It was the only way to make up for his sin and find a way to move forward.” While I do believe that confession is good for the soul, again, where is Christ in this? The only way to “make up” for his sins was to confess to a priest? There is absolutely no way we can make up for our sins. Christ is the only way (Hebrews 9).

I also thought that there were many portions of the novel that focused on clichés and drama rather than reality. There were many references of “following your heart” or thinking with your heart instead of your head. I understand what the author means when the characters talk about following their hearts – I wouldn’t want my daughter to end up in a loveless marriage – but I think it is dangerous to portray following your heart as always being the right thing no matter what. There was a lot of talk about God’s will and wanting God’s will for their lives, but there was no clear look at how that might be accomplished. All of the talk about following the heart and doing what a person wanted to do seemed to be in conflict with the talk about God’s will.

If I had to pick one word to describe this novel, it would be “drama.”

Now that I have said all of that, I think my favorite part of this novel was the setting. I liked the horse farm atmosphere, and I wished that it had been explored even further. The part of the story focusing on the family possibly losing the farm was interesting and might have been something that could have been elaborated on in order to create even more suspense.

If I had to pick one word to describe this novel, it would be “drama.” I really thought that the story would revolve around more than just the two romances, but it didn’t. If straight romance is what you like, then you might want to give this series a try, and you might like it much more than I did.

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