Bodie & Brock Thoene captured me in another of their excellent novels, Only the River Runs Free. The story is set in early-to-mid-19th century Ireland, complete with Mad Molly, the eccentric old woman of Ballynockanor who lost her marbles when her employer and his son died on the same day. But she kept the secret of their demise locked away for years, later slipping the mysterious key to a young lame boy and his wee sister.
When a stranger comes to Ballynockanor on Christmas Eve, Mad Molly proclaims a miracle will come to the town through this young man. His intention to become a priest is thwarted by his secret love for Kate, the widowed (and scarred) daughter of town drunk, Tom Donovan. In typical Thoene fashion, this novel is woven together by a well-designed plot. I sailed through it in a week and found myself lamenting at the end, not because the ending was unhappy. Oh, no. The happy ending makes it all the more worth the read. I lamented because I wasn't ready to leave Ballynockanor and its colorful characters. I'm looking forward to reading Ashes of Remembrance, another masterpiece in The Galway Chronicles.
Buy two - one for yourself, and one to give as a gift.