Thank you so much, Karen, for inviting me to be here today! I must say I feel like the city cousin at a barn dance, because although my upcoming release, Irish Meadows, is a historical romance, it is not western-themed, nor does it involve cowboys!
The one commonality it does have is that the story takes place on a horse farm. Irish Meadows is the name of my fictional farm in Long Island, New York, where the O’Leary family raise, train, and board thoroughbreds. I wanted the O’Learys to be fairly affluent, yet not as wealthy as some of their Long Island neighbors. I also needed to put Irish Meadows in financial jeopardy to drive the main conflict of the story.
As I was researching horse racing in the 1911 time period, I discovered an interesting fact: that horse racing had been banned in the state of New York at this time. This played perfectly into my conflict!
James O’Leary becomes very worried because some of his clients are pulling their horses out of his stables. This anxiety increases James’ deep-seated motivation to find rich husbands for his two eldest daughters— he wants to secure their place in society and make sure they never revert back to his parents’ time of poverty.
My heroine, Brianna O’Leary, has grown up at Irish Meadows, and her love of horses made her into a bit of a tomboy when she was younger. Now that she is about to turn 18, her father has restricted her riding time in the hopes that she will become more feminine and hopefully attract a suitable husband. Naturally Brianna does not like this turn of events one bit!
My hero, Gilbert Whelan, has been raised by the O’Leary family as their ward and as a pseudo-sibling of the O’Leary children. Horses are his passion, and his main goal is to one day start his own breeding farm. (His other secret passion is Brianna O’Leary!) When James asks Gil to court the banker’s daughter in order to assure the business loan he needs, Gil goes against his better judgment and agrees to help save Irish Meadows. After all, he can’t sit back and let the O’Learys lose their home and business, can he?
Some of my favorite scenes in the book revolve around the horses and the stables – namely Brianna’s wild ride on a prize stallion (which goes terribly awry), and the birth of a foal anticipated to be a champion (but who ends up a huge disappointment and another blow for the ranch.)
So although there are no cowboys in my story, I hope all you horse lovers out there will pick up a copy of my book and fall in love with Irish Meadows and the O’Leary family!
Irish Meadows releases with Bethany House Publishing on July 7, 2015. Ebook releases June 30th.
Blurb: Brianna and Colleen O’Leary know their Irish immigrant father 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, depends on their ability to land prosperous husbands. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.
Brianna, the quiet sister with a quick mind, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry—as long as her father’s choice meets her exacting standards of the perfect man. When former stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from business school and distant family member Rylan Montgomery stops in on his way to the seminary in Boston, the two men quickly complicate everyone’s plans.
As financial ruin looms ever closer, James O’Leary grows more desperate. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid becoming pawns in their father’s schemes and follow their hearts. Yet even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?
Susan is giving away a print Advance Reading Copy! Leave a comment to enter the drawing!
Susan Anne Mason describes her writing style as “romance sprinkled with faith.” She particularly enjoys exploring the themes of forgiveness and redemption in her stories. Irish Meadows is her first historical novel and won the Fiction from the Heartland contest sponsored by the Mid-American Romance Author chapter of RWA. Susan lives outside of Toronto, Ontario, with her husband, two children, and two cats. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Learn more about Susan and her books at www.susanannemason.com.