The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel is about two people from different walks of life solving a decades old mystery that could change the trajectory of their lives. Brianna Kelly has spent her entire life at Ballymacool House and Boarding School. The headmistress Magee found Brianna on her doorstep when Brianna was an infant. The person who left Brianna on the school’s doorstep left no clues to indicate her lineage or her parents.
Brianna feels that since she spent her entire life as a servant at the school, she fears that she will most likely die in the same role. Although she feels that she is meant for something more, she lacks the power and money to alter her situation and circumstances. When Brianna isn’t working, she spends her time exploring the area surrounding Ballymacool. She looks for hidden treasures to add to her secret stash that she has hidden underneath the floorboards of her room.
Michael Wray is a member of the Ascendancy class and the son of a local gentry. His presence was requested at Ballymacool when his unruly cousin, Adeline, started having behavioral problems and the staff was unable to deal with her. As Michael tries to get his cousin’s behavior under control, he finds himself in the company of Brianna often. After spending a few brief moments with Brianna, Michael feels himself drawn to her.
As the pair spends more time together, Micheal feels that there is something familiar about Brianna. When Brianna finds a piece of silver in the woods, she enlist Michael to help her find the origin of the platter. As they dig deeper, they find out a secret behind the platter that might change their lives.
I thought the book was an okay read. The novel moved very slowly with no story progression. The author spent more than ¾ of the book in the beginning to talk about Michael dealing with his cousin’s unruly behavior. And towards the end, when the story starts to pick up, Adeline just disappears. We don’t know if her behavior improves or is Adeline still a thorn in everyone’s sides.
I liked that the author weaved Irish phrases into the narration. It made me feel more immersed in the story. The book had a section in the back of the book that translated the phrases and gave readers a glimpse into the history of Ballymacool along with the author’s inspiration. I thought this was a delightful inclusion, but I would have preferred if the words were translated in story. I found it a bit annoying to move back and forth constantly to figure out what a specific word or phrase meant.
The ending did wrap up the story in a neat bow but I had a few questions that I don’t think were addressed. I felt that the author drew out the story and then didn’t fully address all the different storylines, such as: how did Brianna’s mother know Magee? Did Magee know about Brianna’s existence prior to finding Brianna? If you enjoy clean romance novels with a cozy mystery twist, then you will enjoy this novel.
**Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion**