The Maid of Ballymacool is an enjoyable new historical romance novel perfect for fans of inspirational fiction and fairy tale retellings.
Jennifer Deibel – the bestselling author behind previous books such as A Dance in Donegal and The Lady of Galway Manor, puts a fresh spin on the Cinderella story in this new historical fiction book.
Deibel inventively twists the familiar fairy tale and sets it in 1930s Donegal in Ireland. So, go in expecting a gorgeous setting, a swoony romance, likable characters, and fairy tale elements – all of which make for a compelling read.
RELATED: 6 Books We Can’t Help Falling in Love with This Valentine’s Day
If this book sounds like your cup of tea, find out more about the book below – and read the entertaining excerpt.
OFFICIAL BOOK DESCRIPTION OF THE MAID OF BALLYMACOOL
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.
THE MAID OF BALLYMACOOL EXCERPT
Brianna stretched her arms tall, matching the stance of the trembling Scots pine, poplar, birch, and hazel trees towering over her. Unbidden, a smile tipped her lips as the sunlight speckled her skin and the trees whispered their secrets in the morning breeze. Breakfast had unfolded blessedly without event, though her pendant never showed itself. She’d counted the minutes until she could partake of the weekly break Mistress Magee so magnanimously granted her. Seemingly endless hours yawned before her, though she knew she must return to campus midafternoon to begin working on the massive evening meal. Don’t think of that now, she told herself.
She closed her eyes, spun three circles, and went in the direction she was facing when she stopped. Her smile widened when she realized she was heading toward Finnuala’s home. It had been far too long since they’d visited with one another. Kicking off her shoes and tucking them at the base of a large poplar, she ignored the intense cold of the earth and continued toward the old woman’s house. She never really had minded the cold. It was all she had known in many ways. The feel of the grass on her skin, the dirt in her toes, and even the twigs that poked her soles, grounded her, as though connecting her with some unseen source of energy. Nae, life. She welcomed the connection to nature and its Creator. It both soothed and fueled her, stoking the fires of her spirit to continue another week. As she strolled, she stooped here and there to pluck some small wildflowers to bring to Finnuala, taking care to avoid the tiny white ones. While a lovely breed, Brianna couldn’t ignore the old wives’ tale she’d heard about them—about how they carried evil wishes with them if brought into the house. She’d never wish to bring death or ill will upon Finnuala’s house or anyone in it.
At a break in the trees, Brianna quickened her pace. Her friend’s home came into view and Brianna’s heart warmed at the sight of it. The humble cottage, with smoke curling from the chimney and the thatched roof glistening in the muted light, was both inviting and chaotic. The walls, which at one time had been whitewashed, were now chipped and aged, with the crumbled remains of the once-attached shed off to one side. A stack of turf sat drying in the traditional tented pile, and stones lined the base of the home all the way round. Though not untidy, everything about the scene seemed intentional, yet also haphazard—much like Finnuala herself. As though summoned by Brianna’s thoughts, the older woman rounded the corner. Hunched over, carrying a basket on her back piled high with more peat, Finnuala’s brown wool dress fell to just above her ankles, revealing tattered socks and worn shoes. Her hair was pulled back in her customary low bun, but unruly tendrils stood out in all directions around her face, which lit up at the sight of Brianna.
“Mo chailín!” She lowered the basket with shaky limbs before Brianna could get close enough to help. Then she stretched her arms out wide.
Brianna happily entered Finnuala’s embrace, and though much smaller than Brianna, the woman managed to encompass her in warmth, acceptance . . . belonging. Brianna fought back the tears that unexpectedly burned her eyes. “Hiya, Finnuala.”
The pair held the embrace for a long beat before Finnuala extended Brianna an arm’s length away. “I’ve not seen ya in a donkey’s years! C’mon an’ I’ll get you a cuppa.” She spun round quickly, but Brianna thought she saw a glisten in her eyes.
“I know ’tis been a long time,” Brianna said as she followed her into the small cottage. “I’ll try not ta let so much time go by before I get back next.”
Finnuala tsked and shuffled to the fire where a cast-iron kettle perpetually hung on a hook, ever ready to serve a guest. Though Brianna was fairly certain she was Finnuala’s only guest. Ever. “She works ya too hard, that Magee.”
Chapter 4, pages 40-42
From The Maid of Ballymacool © 2023, Jennifer Deibel, published by Fleming H. Revell Company
MORE ABOUT THE MAID OF BALLYMACOOL
- Title: The Maid of Ballymacool: A Novel
- Author: Jennifer Deibel
- Publisher: Fleming H. Revell Co (February 21, 2023)
- Genre: Historical Romance, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction
- Length: (352) pages
- Format: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, & eBook
- ISBN: 978-0800741747
- Tour Dates: February 13 – 27, 2023
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.
WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS
- “Deibel’s update on the “Cinderella” story features sympathetic, three-dimensional characters that readers will find easy to root for as they navigate the page-turning plot and find their way to one another. This heartwarming entry will keep readers hooked till its satisfying close.”— Publisher’s Weekly
- “A slow-building, delicious romance wrapped in a mystery!”— Erica Vetsch, author of the Thorndike & Swann Regency Mysteries
AMAZON | BAKER PUBLISHING | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY | BOOKSHOP | GOODREADS