Three heroines weather tremendously difficult circumstances, uncovering and navigating unsettling details about their families’ histories with admirable grace.
★ A Dance in Donegal
In Jennifer Deibel’s debut novel, A Dance in Donegal, Moira Doherty travels from Boston to Donegal, Ireland, fulfilling her late mother’s dream that her daughter would return to their breathtaking homeland. Moira endures the strenuous journey and arrives in the village of Ballymann, where the villagers’ reception is mixed. Donegal is a charming place, but despite Moira’s excitement, some of the villagers’ disconcerting remarks send her in search of the truth about her mother. In the process, a romance blossoms between Moira and a handsome, honorable thatcher who defends her against the villagers’ prejudice and hostility.
Deibel’s descriptions of Ireland’s landscape, enticing cuisine, sonorous language and vibrant culture converge to form a spectacular background for the story. A gentle thread of suspense builds throughout, beginning with a strange dream Moira has at the story’s opening, which hints at her task in Donegal and her mother’s looming secret. There’s also a love triangle that keeps Moira on her toes.
As an outsider, Moira struggles to be accepted by the tightknit, superstitious Irish community, but she wins hearts through her powerful faith and her love for everyone she encounters. While unraveling her family’s secret and becoming immersed in Irish culture, Moira discovers her roots and finds happiness.
Her Every Move
As in A Dance in Donegal, the devastating details of a family’s history form the foundation of Kelly Irvin’s latest suspense novel, Her Every Move. When a climate change debate at a San Antonio library becomes the target of a tragic bombing, the event’s coordinator, Jackie Santoro, is identified as a key suspect.
Detective Avery Wick believes Jackie’s motive was to avenge her father, who died by suicide before the commencement of his criminal trial, and whose death left his family with a deep-seated resentment toward the city’s officials who leveraged the allegations against him. While detectives look into Jackie’s past, the real attacker threatens to continue his trail of destruction if his group’s demands are not met.
As these tense events unfold, Irvin dives deeper into Jackie’s and Avery’s complex personal lives, and as the pair gets to know each other, the professional boundaries between them become blurry. Though it includes a slow-burning romance and gripping details of chaotic explosions, the novel is, at its core, a heartwarming exploration of faith and friendship.
’Til I Want No More
The past also plays a critical role in Robin W. Pearson’s encouraging, family-centric love story ’Til I Want No More. Theodore is kind and loving, the kind of man that columnist Maxine should settle down with. Even her mother approves of him. But Maxine fights to maintain control of her feelings amid her premarital counseling sessions with Theodore—and the return of her teenage love, JD, whose presence threatens to destroy her future with Theodore and expose secrets that she has concealed for a long time.
Emotional scenes reveal key events from Maxine’s childhood and turbulent teenage years, when she felt unwanted. These early experiences contributed to her decision to settle down with Theodore before she’d properly dealt with her past, but grown-up Maxine sometimes still feels unworthy. The novel also includes Maxine’s articles about her family life, upcoming wedding plans and relationship with Theodore, adding another layer of context to Maxine’s life as the drama unfolds.
With help from her community, Maxine learns that by confronting her tangled past, she can face her future and discover her true self. Uplifting faith-based messages are included throughout, and the story’s easy pace allows time to take in each lesson.