My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it
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?
The overall feeling I got from this book was desperation. The patriarch of the O'Leary family has a financial and social agenda and expects his loved ones to do his bidding without question. He is quite the bully and creates quandaries for the members of his family who are caught between loyalty to James and following their dreams. There is plenty of angst as matters of the heart are involved and passions are repressed. I enjoyed the characters and read anxiously as each made choices that created a ripple effect throughout the story. I appreciated that the relationships were realistic- Gilbert and Brianna in particular had issues of trust, communication and expectations to work through, and the path was not smooth. The overriding theme was for each member of the family to learn to follow God's will for their life, not their father's.
(Thank you to Bethany House Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)