Special Feature/Excerpt: The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel

Who doesn’t love a historical fiction, Cinderella retelling set on the Emerald Isle?! I haven’t been reading a ton of historical fiction lately which makes me sad, but this book caught my eyer as an option! I love Cinderella and It thought the plot sounded really interesting as well as having a hint of romance which made me even more excited to check this one out. Plus the Emerald Isle? YES PLEASE! I need some escapism during these long cold winter months even if it’s equally as rainy and dreary there, I love dreaming about my next escape destination.

While I couldn’t fit this one on my review schedule for this month, I think this might be a good option if you are looking for a new spring read that had some sweet, clean romance, with the promise of a HEA. I know that a lot of people have been reading this one lately for the tour and really enjoying it so if you are thinking about picking this one up, be sure to check out the other stops on the tour to see what other readers are saying about it!

This book contains some Gaelic words which I think adds to the authenticity of the story, and it sounds like author Jennifer Deibel put a lot of historical research into the story. Early readers are saying the books has some great Gothic elements as well as interesting and smart characters which makes me even more excited to check this one out. If you are a fan off historical fiction, then you are not going to want to miss this one. Because to keep reading to find out what readers are saying and to see other stops on the tour!


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.


  • “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




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. 



The Maid of Ballymacool Excerpt 1

Michael circled the cottage interior once again, quite unsure what to do with himself. He checked his pocket watch. Five o’clock. A full hour until dinnertime. He’d no idea what Adeline’s schedule was, and he wasn’t of the mind to seek her out just yet. A small stack of books on the mantelpiece caught his attention. Just as he was about to lift the first one from its place, a knock sounded at the door.

Stifling a groan, Michael crossed the room once again to open the door.

A wiry-haired man with a hunched back and a twinkle in his eyes smiled up at Michael. “Afternoon, Mister Wray. I took the liberty of stabling yer horse an’ bringing yer effects to ye.”

Michael stepped aside to allow the man to enter. “Much obliged, Mister . . .”

“Bartholomew Murphy’s me name. But folk here call me Batty.” A wheezy chuckle squeezed from Batty’s chest, and he shuffled past Michael, his arms laden with all he’d packed. In truth, Michael had forgotten all about Cara and his bags. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a one-pound coin and held it toward the old man.

Wheesht.” Batty flapped his hand in the air. “There’ll be none o’ that from ye, Mister Wray. But t’anks all the same.” He swiped his sleeve across his forehead. “This is what the mistress pays me fer.” Another raspy laugh bubbled out of the man’s lips.

Heat crept up Michael’s neck to his cheeks. He nodded and slipped the coin back in his pocket. “Very well, then. I thank ya very much.”

Batty hooked his thumb toward the door. “The stables are just round the corner after the last cottage. Ya wouldn’t know it’s there to just look, but it’s there. Ye’re welcome to grab yer trusty steed anytime ya like. If ye want her saddled and ready for ya, just let me or my stable hand, Pádhraig, know.” Batty had already started shuffling toward the door. He yanked a flatcap out of his back trouser pocket and shoved it on his head. “Good day to ya, sir.”

Michael smiled and nodded. “And to you, Batty. And thanks again.”

Batty shut the door in his wake, and Michael grabbed his bags and dragged them into the bedroom. Before he could open one, there was another knock at the door.

Good grief, we don’t get this many callers at Castle Wray! He smiled to himself and hurried to open the door.

“Afternoon, sir. Mistress Magee said I should bring you some tea.” A pair of eyes the color of dark sea glass stared up at him from a porcelain face. Michael’s breath hitched as he took in the sight of the housemaid. A shock of red hair cascaded over her shoulder in a simple plait. She shifted her feet under his gaze and cleared her throat. “Well, if you don’t want it, that’s fine.” She turned on her heel, taking care not to spill the tray.

Fan!” Michael’s call came out far louder than he’d intended.

She turned back, one brow hiked high—in interest or annoyance, Michael wasn’t sure. He was sure, however, that he liked it. “Forgive me,” he said. “Please, come in. And thank you.”

The woman brought the tray in with the ease of someone who’d carried far heavier-laden trays a million times. Placing the tea service on the table, she spoke over her shoulder, “She also wanted me to remind ya that dinner’s at six o’clock sharp.” She wiped her hands on her apron and stepped toward the door.

“Thank you. I’ll be there.” Michael studied the woman’s face. She was beautiful, aye, but there was something about her, something he couldn’t place, that absolutely captivated him. “And you are?” He reached out to shake her hand.

“Brianna!” Mistress Magee’s shrill call shattered the air between them.

The woman startled. She looked from Michael to the open door and back. “Brianna Kelly,” she mumbled before grabbing his outstretched hand, shaking it, and scurrying from the cottage, leaving the scent of fresh bread and tea in her wake.

Chapter 2, pages 23-26

From The Maid of Ballymacool © 2023, Jennifer Deibel, published by Fleming H. Revell Company

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