Friday, February 24, 2023

THE MAID OF BALLYMACOOL by Jennifer Deibel, Reviewed by Trixi and Paula #newRelease

“Child, there’s more to yer story than ye could ever know. And there’s things the good Laird has for ye to do that no one else can." ~pg 153

I’m a fairly new reader to Jennifer Deibels’ books, but I think every time I read her latest novel, I fall more in love with her writing! She just has this way with words that connect me to her characters, the scenery, and draw me in completely. I really feel as if I am watching everything happen from the sidelines…it’s pure bliss! She engages every one of my senses and makes her world on the pages seem like my world.

As for the characters, Brianna’s plight is much like women in this time period who have to eke out a living as a housemaid, cook or nanny. In this case, she’s been living at Ballymacool girl’s boarding school all her life in the care of her guardian Mistress Magee after her parents’ death when she was but a few months old. Magee is a cruel taskmaster, never satisfied with her work and takes no guff. Brianna’s only friend is an old woman who lives in a small cabin in the woods and treats her like her own daughter. What a delight Finnuala is, she doles out sage advice and reminders of who God is and how He sees the world!

Ah yes, our hero Michael, sent to Ballymacool to keep an eye on his fourteen year old cousin who’s a handful! Well, I already liked him from the very first sentence we met him….why? Because he’s a book lover like myself:

“Few things stirred Michael’s heart and refreshed his spirit like an inspiring read." ~pg. 13

He quickly sees Brianna’s plight and forges a friendship (all those romantic sparks too!) with her. He’s the epitome of a perfect gentleman, he fights for those less fortunate and has a heart bigger than Ireland! These two are great together and I enjoyed how the author told their story.

The most important thing for me, is the refreshing faith thread. This reminds me (and all who read it), that our identity isn’t within ourselves, but in Christ. That we were made for more in this world and we matter more than we could ever know because of Him. Finnuala puts it so well (let it sink into your own heart):

“Brianna Kelly, don’t let anyone tell ya that who ya are doesn’t matter. Everything ya do, shows His glory to the world. At least it can, if ye’ll let it. You are a daughter of the King, and it’s high time ya treat yourself as such.” “How would I do that?” Visions of fancy robes and demanding breakfast in bed flitted across her mind’s eye. That would never do. “By followin’ His example. He washed the feet o’ others, He befriended the unfriendable, and He never lost sight o’ the purpose laid afore Him by the Father. Our Father.”~ pg. 153

Faith, a feel-good old-fashioned romance, friendships formed and an unburied mysterious object, all form an exceptionally written story for lovers of these kinds of novels!
*I received a complimentary copy from Revell and was under no obligation to write a favorable review. All opinions expressed here are my own. *

Welcome back to county Donegal, Ireland. This time Ms. Deible has set her story in a boarding school in an old family manor of Ballymacool.

I really got wrapped up in this story of an orphaned Brianna. She is a virtual slave to Mistress Magee who is a cruel taskmaster. Brianna has no idea why Magee is so antagonist toward her, but she tries to do her chores to the best of her ability. Maureen Magee’s attitude stems from long held secrets.

Michael Wray has come to the boarding school to supervise his cousin Adeline, who cannot seem to keep out of trouble. As Michael observes the goings on at Ballymacool, he gets to know Brianna and tries to ease her burdens. This hero is a kind and steadying force.

Ms. Deible paints a slice of life in 1935 Ireland and peoples her story with strong characters. One of the most interesting is Finnuola, a seemingly crazy old lady who lives in the woods. But she is crafty and wiser than she lets on. “Child, there is more to yer story than ye could ever know. And there are things the good Laird has for ye to do that no one else can do. Everything ye do, shows His glory to the world.”

Secrets are revealed, lessons are learned and faith is strengthened.

Be sure to read this beautiful story steeped in history.
* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell on behalf of the author. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*
5 stars and a strong faith thread 

BackCover Blurb:

Brianna Kelly was abandoned at Ballymacool House and Boarding School as an infant. She has worked there since she was a wee girl and will likely die there. Despite a sense that she was made for something more, Brianna feels powerless to change her situation, so she consoles herself by exploring the Ballymacool grounds, looking for hidden treasures to add to the secret trove beneath the floorboards of her room.

When Michael Wray, the son of local gentry, is sent to Ballymacool to deal with his unruly cousin, he finds himself drawn to Brianna, immediately and inescapably. There is something about her that feels so . . . familiar. When Brianna finds a piece of silver in the woods, she commits to learning its origins, with the help of Michael. What they discover may change everything.

Fan favorite Jennifer Deibel invites you back to the Emerald Isle in the 1930s for this fresh take on the Cinderella story, complete with a tantalizing mystery, a budding romance, and a chance at redemption.

Revell Publishing, February 21, 2023 
Available in digital ebook, hardcover, and audiobook


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