So, I wrote about Book I of this series, titled Only The River Runs Free, here. I really liked that book. It is the story of Joseph Connor Burke as he comes home to claim an inheritance, as Lord Burke, that was stolen from him. He had planned on being a priest, but he reconnects with childhood friend, Kate Donovan, and there that plan goes.
I liked Book 2 of this series, Of Men and Angels, a bit less. It seemed to drag at times. There was a lot of political drama, and Kate Donovan, well, I thought she was just being plain stupid. But, to be fair, I had a lot going on at the time, so maybe anything I had read at that time might have proven difficult.
But, Book 3 and 4 I loved, and that despite the fact that in book 3 the main characters, Joseph Connor Burke, and again Kate Donovan, were apart nearly the entire book. Generally, this sort of plot puts me to sleep, because it is the interaction between the main hero/heroine that I enjoy reading about. However, the plotting was done so well, and the suspense so high, that it was of little consequence they were apart. I simply couldn't put the book down.
Book 4, especially, kept me reading when I should have been doing other things.
In all the books, the characters are well-fleshed out and believable. They make mistakes even as they try to find some sort of peace within a political system that is determined to tear them apart body and soul. Despite the fact the story is told from multiple viewpoints, the plotting is tight and not confusing. Even the political plot is well-done and easy to follow.
This book particularly opened my eyes to the plight of the Irish in their own homeland in the mid 1800s and to England's determination to at least "bring them into the modern world." The big rub, for England, was the fact the Irish were Catholics, much like the Acadians a century before. And, like the Acadians, they believed the best policy was assimilation, and if that was not possible, then extermination.
For those of you who are Catholics, and who worry about such being portrayed wrongly in stories, this is another one that does the Catholic faith justice and ten times over. Father O'Bannon, the parish priest, is a holy, caring priest that shepherds his flock with determination and grit. The characters go to confession, they observe meatless Fridays, and abide by the strictures of the church.