THE MAID OF BALLYMACOOL by Jennifer Deibel
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romance
RELEASE DATE: February 21, 2023
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.
County Donegal, Ireland
The slap had hit its mark, leaving a burning outline Brianna was certain showed perfectly on her cheek. Despite the sting, she refused to press her hand against it. She wouldn’t give Mistress Magee the satisfaction. As the woman continued to rail about Brianna’s endless list of shortcomings, Brianna plotted out the route for her afternoon treasure hunt. She’d never call it thus to Mistress Magee. No, to that woman it was a daily constitutional—a phrase that always conjured images of outhouses and pig slop rather than the walk of a proper lady. Not that it mattered much. Maureen Magee, headmistress of Ballymacool House and Boarding School for Girls, saw to it that Brianna was reminded of the depths of her station daily. Nothing befitting a lady befitted Brianna. But that didn’t bother her. Not really. All she needed were her walks in the woods, her treasures, and the good Lord. A friend wouldn’t hurt though. Not that Magee would ever allow it.
“Do you hear me, girl?” The headmistress’s strident voice pierced Brianna’s thoughts.
She swallowed a sigh. “Yes, marm.”
“Then you know what you’re to do?” The severe lines on the woman’s face hardened with judgment, serving to further age her. “Well, child? Do you?” Mistress Magee straightened her posture, cupped her fingers together at her waist, and waited, impatience flashing in her steely eyes.
Child? Brianna was twenty, yet Mistress Magee perpetually treated her like she was still a snot-nosed five-year-old. “Aye, miss.” At a spark of indignation from her guardian, Brianna corrected herself. “Yes, marm.” In truth, Brianna had heard nothing of what the woman had instructed, but she didn’t need to. Mistress Magee piled on the same litany of extra chores any time Brianna deigned to show her humanity. Today’s egregious error? Not having the morning’s porridge pot scrubbed and shining prior to the students finishing breakfast. Never mind that Brianna had been kept busy clearing dishes, wiping spills, and the like. That mattered not. All that mattered were Mistress Magee’s ever-changing whims and Brianna’s inability to meet them.
“Very well.” Mistress Magee punctuated her thought with a sharp nod. “You know what’s expected. See that you carry it out. Forthwith.” She turned to leave, paused, then peered over her shoulder at Brianna, waiting.
“Yes, marm.” Brianna swiped a sponge from the table and plunged it into a basin of water, then knelt and began scrubbing the massive copper pot.
Mistress Magee nodded again, a quiet, “Humph,” escaping her lips before she swept from the hot, stuffy kitchen.
Once alone, Brianna plopped back onto her heels, finally allowing the deep sigh she’d been holding in to press out, releasing with it all the tension Mistress Magee’s presence always cultivated. Tempted to let bitterness take root, she closed her eyes and imagined she was sitting at the base of her tree. She could almost feel the coolness of the damp earth seeping through her skirt, the gentle breeze tickling her skin, cooling the ache that still pulsed on her cheek from Mistress Magee’s strike. Whispering a prayer for strength and endurance, she retrieved the sponge and resumed scrubbing.
As she worked the filth from the pot, her anger lightened and lifted away. A plunking sound and a gentle splash shook Brianna from her thoughts. Another leak? A quick glance at the ceiling revealed nothing. Peering into the pot, panic jolted her. She grasped at her neck and chest. My pendant! She plunged her hand into the murky water, ignoring the sludge collecting at the bottom, and worked until her fingers found what they sought. She curled them around the chain, then sloshed her prize a bit to clear the muck away and pulled it out of the water.
She wiped it as gently and as quickly as she could with her apron and then inspected it closely. All appeared to be intact—as intact as it had ever been, anyway. Clearly only a broken piece of a larger pendant, its edges worn by time, it was bordered with double lines accented with several fleurs de lis. Within the borders lay three stamped flowers. Brianna ran her thumb over the flowers, imagining her mother had once done the same. It was all she had that connected her to her family and long-forgotten past. She’d been left with it around her neck, even as a small infant, Mistress Magee had told her long ago. Before her hatred of Brianna had fully set in.
She clasped her hand around the shard and then opened it again to view the back of the trinket. Letters that seemed to have been hastily carved by hand stretched across the surface. Only part of a word. The c, o, and n were clearly visible. Another letter, or part of one, was slashed in half by the broken edge. How many hours had she spent daydreaming about what those letters might spell? What they might mean? But there was no time for that now. If she was to have any hope of a walk in the woods today, she must hasten in finishing her tasks.
She worked the chain through her fingers until they reached the ends and refastened the clasp. The battered chain often came open and fell from her neck. And it had done so ever more of late. Slipping it over her head, Brianna tucked the pendant into the bodice of her dress, praying it would stay. She needed a new chain. Since she did not receive any wages for her labors at the house—she was “earning her keep,” according to Mistress Magee—the only way to procure one would be if she happened across one on one of her walks. But she knew better than to hope for such good fortune. Her years in the Ballymacool woods had taught her that treasure never reveals itself to the greedy, but rather the grateful. And so, as she plunged her hands into the now-cool water, she ran through her list of all that for which she was grateful.
Jennifer Deibel, The Maid of Ballymacool
Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2023. Used by permission.
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 www.jenniferdeibel.com.
Revell is offering a print copy of The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel to TWO of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel?
I would like to read The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel because I like the Irish setting.
I feel the cover is calling you wanting to make you read more. Thank you
This looks like a novel my Mom would like. I always look at stuff that can make her happy.
I would like to read this because I haven’t ready any of her books yet, but I am interested in becoming familiar with her work. I heard about her when I was listening to an interview with her and Baker Book House. Now she is on my new to me authors that I want to know more about.
This book sounds so good, I would love to read it.
Love books in this era. THE MAID OF BALLYMACOOL by Jennifer Deibel sounds like an absolutely fabulous story and one I would love the opportunity to read and review.
Thank you for the chance!
I’m currently reading “A Dance in Donegal” and loving it. Jennifer Deible is a fantastic author; she brings you into Ireland and you are easily caught up in the lives of her characters. Thank you so much for sharing!! 🥰📚
Nice cover. I liked the blurb and excerpt. It sounds like a really interesting book. Thank you for sharing.
Would love to read it. Thanks for sharing.
I would like to read this book. Sounds good.
I love the cover of this book and it sounds really interesting. Also I love Ireland and would live to go there someday. 🙂
This sounds like a good book, one I’d like to read. Thanks for the opportunity to enter a giveaway! Would love to win a print copy!
The 1930s AND Ireland! Sounds perfect!
Loved her first two books and can’t wait to read this one, especially after that excerpt.
The cover is beautiful! Thanks for the giveaway!
Love the story line.
Sounds like a story I will enjoy reading.
I have read one other book by Jennifer Deibel–A Dance in Donegal–and loved it, so I’m eager to read this novel by her as well. It sounds like a sweet story with lots of the flavor of Ireland.
Captivating, fascinating and unforgettable historical which is a real treasure.
This sounds really good. A retelling of a Cinderella story with a mystery and romance, sign me up.
The excerpt is heart-tugging. I’m ready to be transported by historical romance (with added mystery!) to Ireland…
I have not read any books by this author but since reading your review I would really enjoy reading the book. It sounds really good, it is the kind of book that I like to read.
I would love to give this book to my Mom ifvI won. That’s why I wnter these giveaways lll.
that’s sweet of you to do 🙂
I already enjoy this author! The setting and time frame sound interesting.
Looks like such an interesting story. I have never read anything by this author yet.
So pretty and sounds interesting. Thank you for sharing.
Sounds really good
I read A Dance in Donegal and very much enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to reading more by Jennifer Deibel!
I like reading books with a Cinderella story and some type of mystery added into it!
I love books set in Ireland!
looks like a fun one
I want to read this because it sounds like my kind of novel!
I only recently discovered Jennifer Deibel and I can’t wait to read her books!! I’d love to read this one!
After reading the book excerpt I would like to read this book-I love a good Cinderella story-I always want everyone happy in the end !
The title seems intriguing
it is a pretty great cover 🙂
I would love to travel to Ireland, but since that’s not an option for me right now a book set there is my travel method.
we are so blessed to have these delightful bookish adventures, aren’t we? 🙂
I like reading historical fiction.
i do too! And this one is a great one 🙂