Thursday, July 30, 2015

Irish Meadows - Susan Anne Mason

Set on a horse farm in Long Island, New York, in 1911, Irish Meadows is a story of family loyalty and where those boundaries fall when loyalty's limits are pushed over the line.  Colleen and Brianna O'Leary have always bowed to their father's wishes, but what will they do when he wishes them to marry for profit and alliances rather than love?  Gilbert Whelan was taken in by the O'Leary family and raised as a son when he had nowhere else to go.  What kind of loyalty is owed for that kind of debt?

Something about the tone, or perhaps the cover itself, gave the impression that this book was to be mainly about Gilbert and Brianna.  Gilbert, returning home from college, to express his gratitude to the O'Leary family, but then hoping to strike out on his own, but finds himself being enslaved by the bonds of that gratitude debt.  And, Brianna - no longer a child, but a young woman, pinning her hopes, and perhaps her heart, on her childhood friend returning with the education she longs for.  And yet, their storyline was not what drew me into this book; instead, it was the sister Colleen, the older sister seen as the flighty flirt, looking for fun wherever she can find it, all the while being the apple of her daddy's eye, it was her character who exhibited the most depth and heartfelt emotional change.

There were other moments and characters that did keep me interested in this book; the aunt, long estranged from her brother, but to whom Brianna ran when she needed space and time; the secrets that everyone was holding onto that, only by their revealing, led to healing and forgiveness.  These things were worth reading the book for.  Brianna's and Gilbert's characters, however, frustrated me.  When things did manage to come together for them, it felt more like an accident than that they'd actually changed or worked through the things they needed to come to terms with.

Either way, I did enjoy the book, and I give it 3 stars.
This was the first in a series, so perhaps we'll see how the O'Leary family continues to cope with the issues in their midst.

You can find Irish Meadows HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House, in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

In Good Company - Jen Turano

Millie Longfellow loves children, and desperately wants to be a good nanny.  However, her methods and propensity for disaster see her dismissed from her positions over and over again.  Having run out of options with her temp agency, she is forced to work for Everett Mulberry and his "brats," as he calls them - children who he's been given guardianship of upon their parents' death.  Having been orphaned herself as a child, Millie has a strong affinity for these children and cares for them despite Everett's fiancee's blatant attempts to discredit Millie and have her dismissed.  Can Millie get Everett to see the children as more than an imposition? Can they find out what actually happened to the children's parents?

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, After a Fashion, and Millie was one of my favorite characters from that book.  I love that she carries around a dictionary to improve her vocabulary, and that even her frequent misuse of new terms doesn't deter her from continuing on.  I love her feistiness, and her willingness to stand up for what she thinks is right, for herself, for her charges, and for points of integrity.  I love that she sees the humor in her own penchant for disaster; she even says about herself:
"I don't purposefully become involved with shenanigans, Mrs. Mulberry, but you should know that sometimes they just seem to happen to me."

There is a definite Sound of Music vibe to this book, from the nanny who's been fired over and over, down to making clothes out drapes, so that might not be to everyone's taste, but I happen to love that movie, so it didn't bother me.  Although Harriet and Oliver do not factor into this story, I love that so many characters from the first book are featured again - from Lucetta the actress, to the Reverend who continues to pray over these women and serve as both spiritual counsel and friend.  Even Abigail continues her matchmaking ways and lends an air of kindness and humor to the story.

I give this book 4 stars; I'm a sucker for heroines who make me laugh, and Millie does that well.  I can't wait to read Lucetta's story!

You can find In Good Company HERE.
You can find Jen Turano's website HERE, or you can connect with her on Facebook HERE.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.