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Irish Meadows (Courage to Dream Series #1)

Susan Anne Mason, Susan Anne Mason
Irish Meadows (Courage to Dream Series #1)

Brianna and Colleen know their Irish immigrant father, James O'Leary, 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... Read More

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Item # 1568477

Brianna and Colleen know their Irish immigrant father, James O'Leary, 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.

As the farm slips ever closer to ruin, James grows increasingly 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?

Product Details:
Pages: 384
Release: 07/2015
  • Product type: Book
  • Format: Softcover
  • Release Date: Jul 7, 2015
  • UPC: 9780764217241
  • Volumes/Discs: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Publish Date: Jul 7, 2015
  • Language: English
  • Audience Age Maximum: 0
  • Audience Age Minimum: 0
  • BISAC: "FIC042030"
  • ISBN: 0764217240

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Seeking God's Will by Jeanie on 1/17/2016

‘Irish Meadows’ is the dramatic first novel in Susan Anne Mason’s Courage to Dream series. A historical women’s fiction drama set in a time period among the more socially elite, that I’ve have not read many of; it exceeded my expectations and has me eagerly awaiting the second in series.

Brianna and Colleen O’Leary are the teenagers and first-generation Americans on Long Island, New York. Their father had come from Ireland, worked hard and eventually came to own his own horse farm and stable where horses were bred and potential racing champions made. In a time when it was all about showing financial prosperity to any and all, their father was having serious financial challenges and tried to save his farm partly through making excellent marriages for his daughters. Men of class and distinction. Men who could be helpful to his flagging property.

At first I didn’t like Colleen, the 1911 version of a party girl, all that well. She seemed too spoiled, too fussy. Brianna was the quieter of the two, the one who wanted to attend college as her friend Gilbert had, and it seemed to me she had the heart and endurance of a great racehorse. She had substance, while Colleen had fluff. When their father began to look for eligible, useful men to marry them off to, lesser young women would have caved.

Gilbert, taken in by the O’Leary’s as a lad, was happy to return to the horse farm for the short term, wanting to do something to put his new degree to work. As the girls protested their father’s desires for their marriage. Gilbert took a job he didn’t want so he could make a good marriage with a young woman whose father had the right business connections for the O’Leary’s. It is hard for me to imagine a world where daughters and adoptees were used as pawns to better the condition of their father – in this case, save the floundering horse farm and stables.

My favorite was Brianna, then her Aunt Fiona. They both had a depth of character that I liked, even though different for that era. While I liked Gilbert, I was disappointed that it looked as though he would marry for business’ sake. My opinion of Tessa did an about face when she, too, proved to have a depth that was borne of the leading of her mother, as well as a certain young man who she thought to be a priest. Their mother, a woman of faith and a wife of her times, was also a woman of depth and strength. I’m not sure there is anyone I truly disliked, as even James O’Leary showed himself to have become a weak man to be pitied, but was not too old to learn. Except, perhaps, for the frequently missing reckless brother who could do no wrong…unless he was caught.

What a story this author can weave! It was never dull; one chapter led into another as I felt compelled to continue reading. The plot twists and changes, some of which truly surprised me, continued to change the course of the outcome. The result was a satisfying story of faith, courage, and love that leaves the reader eager for more. I highly recommend ‘Irish Meadows’ to all who appreciate Christian historical novels they can share with their teenage daughters, those who enjoy romance, strong women, and drama.

With a grateful heart, I received a copy of this book through the “For Readers Only” group at The Book Club Network, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.

Dare to Dream! by Erin S on 9/7/2015

My thoughts:

I loved this book. This was a wonderful debut from this new author and I am so happy to have read it already! I could envision myself as young Brianna. Wanting to further my education and not content to marry a man unless I loved him. And then there is Colleen going about finding what she wants all the wrong way. Both women love men their father would not choose. Daddy wants them to marry rich men to help save the farm. Will they choose love over family? Will Colleen settle down or end up ruined? What about her punishment? Will she survive?

This book was so addicting! I couldn’t put it down and read it straight through. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good historical fiction read. You’re going to love it!

Thanks go to Litfuse for giving me a copy of this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Great Premise and Plot;Weak, Confusing Conclusion by Babbling Becky L on 8/15/2015

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.

Review from Rambles of a SAHM by Fitzysmom on 8/13/2015

I adore a delicious historical fiction read. I have a group of authors that I just automatically pick up their new books. But one of my favorite things is discovering a new historical fiction book by an unknown author. And when I wind up loving the book it's like icing on the cake. That is exactly what happened with Irish Meadows.

The turn of the century is such a fascinating time. So many things were changing but a lot of the changes weren't always open to women. In fact women's futures were still commonly thought of as only becoming wives and mothers. Sisters Brianna and Colleen O'Leary find themselves stuck in this very position. It is expected that each will marry well.

Brianna longs to go to college when her current schooling is finished. Her father thinks it is foolish and a waste of time and money. Instead he expects her to marry. She's determined to make her dream come true but circumstances just continue to impede her progress.

Colleen on the other hand would love to marry and to marry well. The problem is that her father's choice and her choice are not the same. To avoid such a union she decides to take drastic measures. The repercussions aren't pretty but they do have a lasting effect that will ultimately shape the rest of her life.

What I liked about this book was that it went farther and deeper than a nice romance. The author allowed us to get to know the characters and to understand what made them think and feel the way they did. The story is what I would consider somewhat of a complete story for the featured characters. Even though this book is part of a series I enjoyed feeling like the main characters had all the presented situations wrapped up. It was also nice to see the thread of continuity that is going to be woven into the next novel.

I look forward to reading not only the next book in this series A Worthy Heart but also many more books by this author. If you like historical fiction with a bit of romance then I encourage you to give this book a try.

I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.

Christian Shelf-Esteem's review of Irish Meadows by Amanda on 8/11/2015

Irish Meadows is the first book in Susan Anne Mason’s Courage to Dream series. The title of the book is also the title of an estate situated in the picturesque countryside of Long Island, New York. Once very successful, the farm and it’s owner Mr. O’Leary are beginning to feel the financial ramifications of recent legislation which forbids horse racing. At the risk of losing Irish Meadows, this proud patriarch is willing to gamble with the lives of others.

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

I don’t usually begin a book review with a bible verse, however in the case of Irish Meadows I thought this verse was fitting. Mr. O’Leary was quite an unsavory character who I found to be domineering and manipulative. The favoritism he demonstrates for one of his daughters, and his “adopted” son over his biological son stirs up bitterness and resentment amongst them. No one seems to be able to escape his influence, and the prideful arrogance of these characters opens the door for a reoccurring theme of repentance and forgiveness.

To her credit, the author breaks from the usual prescription for romance. However, for me the lack of trust between Bree and Gill created a tedious on-again off-again dynamic. In addition, I’m not sure readers of the Catholic faith or from a Catholic background will appreciate the portrayal of Rylan Montgomery– who is tempted to break his vows during his pastoral training.

The story itself was well organized and the dialogue was good, yet this book failed to resonate with me.

3/5 Stars

I received this book free as a member of the Litfuse blogger program. 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.”

A story of when Daddy doesn't know best by Karen {Ting's Mom} on 8/10/2015

This book is set back in that interesting time in history when it was acceptable for a dad to dictate who his daughter would marry - with no regards to love or feelings. The young women in this book live in a world where dad is a bully, and neither is allowed to truly fall in love wit the men that have captured their hearts.

The men in this book suffer from trying to please their thoughts rather than their heart. Both are willing to do what they think their parents want instead of following their hearts.

Watching all these characters figure out their lives was both frustrating and entertaining. Several big events completely changed the course of this book, and then ending was perfect.

I'm looking forward to the next installment in this series.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review*

introduction to a new family by Kathleen E. on 7/29/2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason, © 2015
Courage to Dream Series, Book 1

For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
--Vincent van Gogh

1911, Long Island, New York
James O'Leary welcomes home a son he has accepted as part of the family to the dismay of his son, Adam. Gilbert Whelan has been a great help as a stable hand and now returning from college with a degree in business, James is in hopes that Gilbert can be influential in turning around his holdings, the Irish Meadows horse farm, to carry their family from ruin. With the anti-gambling rulings declining horse-racing, James hopes to continue building great stock for his clients.

Gilbert is grateful to have been sent to college and has dreams of owning his own farm one day to make the Whelan name prosper in place of despair in his father's memory. In return, he agrees to give financial advice and bookkeeping for Mr. O'Leary. There are other plans in the works he is unaware of, plans for his life that are far from his own desires for his future.

Adam O'Leary has so withdrawn from his family, like the prodigal son's brother, he hasn't recognized it has all been his all along. Envy has driven him away.

As an Irish immigrant, James does not want his daughters, Colleen and Brianne, to struggle and plans to orchestrate future sons-in-law from successful families. His daughters have their own plans while competing with each other.

A little outside help enters as James' wife, Kathleen, invites a distant cousin to come and stay with them while he is attending seminary. Rylan Montgomery seems to be just the right addition to bring to light his observations of interworkings of the O'Leary family.

I especially liked the growth in Colleen as she finds those outside of herself are important. She becomes caring and giving, truly out of character for her as her sister Brianne has formerly been used to.

I liked the introduction to this family and look forward to book two in the series when we will learn more about Adam.

Susan Anne Mason's debut historical novel, Irish Meadows, won the Fiction from the Heartland contest from the Mid-American Romance Authors Chapter of RWA. A member of ACFW, as well, she lives outside of Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and two children. She can be found online at her website and on Facebook.

***Thank you to author Susan Anne Mason and Bethany House Publishers for sending me a copy of Irish Meadows to review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Good Read! by Pamla on 7/15/2015

Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason

This was a good coming of age tale of learning the difference between being grateful and setting boundaries necessary to become mature. I found the exploration of honoring your parents while finding your way to adulthood very well and respectfully done. There is much to learn about love and honor in this book so that we follow God’s path for us and not the path others think we should take. I highly recommend the book, it is a lovely story of love.

This book was given to me at no charge by Bethany House for review.

Good Debut Novel! by Sydney on 7/14/2015

The story takes place in 1911, centering on a horse farm (Irish Meadows) on Long Island, New York. Owned by James O’Leary, an Irish immigrant, the business is teetering too close to financial trouble. His older daughters, the beautiful Colleen and the intellectual Brianna, are expected to make good marriages to wealthy men to help Irish Meadows and the O’Leary family. While Colleen sets her sights on the most eligible bachelors in the county, Brianna readies herself for graduation and dreams of attending college in the fall. Unfortunately, James doesn’t see how furthering her education can be of any possible use to Brianna as a wife and mother, and neither does the young man who has been courting her and anxious to marry her. While Brianna deals not only with the realization that her dreams have been dashed, but also with the reappearance in her family’s life of Gilbert Whelan, a former stable hand – and a young man who turned Brianna’s head before he left for his business degree. The appearance of Rylan Montgomery, a distant cousin on Mrs. O’Leary’s side, winds up complicating Colleen’s life – and not with her discomfort at having a man studying for the priesthood under the same roof!

I don’t want to tell too much and give away good parts of the story. I have to say I really enjoyed reading this book. It moves along pretty well, the characters are interesting and engaging – though Colleen’s full attitude change seems too sudden to be realistic. It’s rarely obvious what’s going to happen from chapter to chapter, which is something I look for in a good book. As a history geek, I appreciated the research the author obviously did into the time period. (There’s nothing like an anachronistic bit of something to distract me in a story!)

Every so often the story seems to skid to a halt. There will be an emotional scene, one where I can feel the frustration or sorrow of the characters, grateful there is someone there to whom they can talk – and the comforter speaks, but what comes out is an out-of-step reminder of how you aren’t worthless to your Heavenly Father, or how if you accept Jesus Christ into your heart… see? While I understand this is a Christian romance book, the reminders like that feel almost as though they were placed there because this is a Christian book, and for no other reason. Almost like they were an afterthought, or something the author felt obligated to add. I just think there are more subtle ways of doing this.

All in all, I really, really liked this book. I found myself staying up late at night to just finish “one more chapter” quite a few times, and that doesn’t happen that often! If you are looking for a good period romance with a plethora of different characters, I’d recommend Irish Meadows. And I am looking forward to the second book in this series!

Dreams of the heart by Noreen on 7/7/2015

This story takes place in Long Island in 1911. The O'Leary family own a horse farm, but it is close to financial ruin. James O'Leary, a strong figure of a man and patriarch, has determined to wed his two daughters to prominent families in hopes of saving the farm. Colleen is jealous of her sister and strives to make her life miserable. Brianna, a quiet and intelligent girl wants to attend college, but her father has other ideas. The story centers around the sisters following their own dreams or obeying their father's wishes, mending all that has come between them and sorting out their future. Will Colleen grown in maturity and learn there are other things in life beside fashion and pretense? Will Brianna follow her dreams of going to college, thus leaving the home of her family and the one man she loves? I loved the depth of the characters and the portrayal of Irish immigrants, since all of my grandparents came from Ireland. Will Brianna work out her relationship with Gilbert and will Colleen marry Rylan?

I loved this story; it was a quick read, but especially enjoyable after I just got back from Ireland.

I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series, just disappointed I have to wait until next year. I would definitely recommend this book. Susan Anne Mason is a wonderful story teller.

Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing, provided me with this book; I received it in exchange for my honest review.

Proclaim the Good News | Mark 16:15
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