Saturday, February 25, 2023

The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel

My thoughts: Set in pre-WWII Ireland on an old estate converted to a boarding school for girls, the story of a lovely young lady who serves as lowest of the lowest as a servant in the school. Laboring from predawn to late at night, young Brianna is the brunt of hateful overlording by other servants and especially the head mistress of Ballymacool.

It is bewildering to her that she is the recipient of such misuse, but she accepts it as her status and knows no other life. Having no parents or other family to whom she can appeal, she does as she is told.

One of the boarders is a mischievous girl from a local, influential family. They send her grown, male cousin to Ballymacool to stay for awhile to try and get to the root of the girl's troubles. While there, he meets young servant, Brianna, and is appalled at her treatment. To further compound the girl's distress, she is injured during a storm and must heal before reassuming her responsibilities.

The story goes forth from there and is a true rags to riches story. I enjoyed reading this book and found it interesting in its portrayal of the abuse of the servant class in Ireland in the 1930s. The romance is sweet. The mystery surrounding Brianna and Ballymacool interesting.

About the book: 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.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.

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