Monday, February 27, 2023

The Maid Of Ballymacool By Jennifer Deibel

The Maid of Ballymacool
by Jennifer Deibel
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780800741747

Having read both of Jennifer's first two books, I knew that this one wouldn't be missed. And I mean, look at that cover? Isn't it stunning? I am part of her launch team and was sent the book for review.


Brianna Kelly has worked at Ballymacool House and Boarding School 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 unearths an intriguing silver platter in the woods, she commits to learning its origins. Could the handsome newcomer hold the key? If so, their discovery could change everything.

My Review:

I never know how fast I'm going to get involved with a book's story, and it turns out The Maid of Ballymacool didn't take long at all. The opening line gives the reader a jolt and gives an immediate vibe as to what's to come.

I'm going to start out with an interesting tidbit about this story. Aside from when we meet Michael Wray, it never leaves the grounds or surrounding forest. It all takes place either in Ballymacool House and Boarding school or around the property. And you know what, it didn't phase me one bit. In fact, it gave me the keen sense of being there. While it's set in 1935, the whole story gave me the sense of being in the late 1800s. Because they seemed so far removed from the world progressing around them is what did it for me.

It was pretty easy to guess where the story was going to end up and I was ok with that because HOW it was going to get there is what kept me hooked!

I immediately loved Brianna. She has overcome so much anger and animosity thrown at her by the head mistress, but she still has a kind and gentle soul. She loves to visit the forest around the boarding school. It's an incredible reminder of when Scripture says in Psalm 96:12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. You sense that when Brianna is in the forest. We also meet Finnuala there, who is basically like a grandmotherly figure to her. 

When Michael shows up on the scene he does what every reader wants the hero to do. He doesn't put up with ANY nonsense. Not only that, the author doesn't put us through him not seeing the injustice put on Brianna. And not just her, but all of the students. He may be young, but he has wisdom and a strong sense of right & wrong. I wanted to cheer every time he stood up to Magee.

Do you like a good (meaning awful) villain? Maureen Magee will get your blood boiling on day one and will have you fighting mad the whole way through. She a prime example of what can happen when we let bitterness take root and fester without forgiving and moving on.

I certainly enjoyed the faith element throughout the story. While I don't believe Brianna knows about Jesus, she knows of the Creator through Finnuala and being in nature. It doesn't seem that any type of faith is taught at the school and certainly no church visits for the boarders. But, faith is spoken of plainly and the characters are reminded of God and His plan.

Once again, I've thoroughly enjoyed another story by this author and I eagerly anticipate the next one!


Jennifer Deibel is the author of A Dance in Donegal (winner of the Kipp Award for Historical Romance) and The Lady of Galway Manor (a Parable Group bestseller). Her work has appeared on (in)courage, on The Better Mom, in Missions Mosaic magazine, and in other publications. With firsthand immersive experience abroad, Jennifer writes stories that help redefine home through the lens of culture, history, and family. After nearly a decade of living in Ireland and Austria, she now lives in Arizona with her husband and their three children. You can find her online at


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