Friday, May 05, 2023



By Caroline Clemmons

Maeve Kelly is the spunky, determined heroine of the sweet historical western romance, LEVI AND THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE. Actually. she didn’t set out to marry Levi, but that’s a later part of the tale. Let me tell you about her background.

Maeve and her older sister, Aine, grew up in County Kerry, Ireland. Their parents rented a cottage and plot of land where they raised sheep, kept a few hens, and worked their large vegetable garden. The girls were their parents’ only children, though they had many cousins nearby. Growing up, they had a happy life mostly unaware of how little they had.

Maeve Kelly

At that time, it was illegal for Irish children to attend school. Maeve and Aine and several of their cousins were fortunate enough to be tutored by their Great Uncle Seamus O’Leary, a retired professor who had taught at Heidelberg University in Germany. Maeve and Aine were the most talented students, especially Maeve, who craved gaining knowledge. Uncle Seamus promised Maeve he would send her to Heidelberg University when she was of age.

Cottage similar to Maeve's family home

In the meantime, Aine began stepping out with Connor Sullivan, a handsome and industrious young man. Then, Aine and Connor married and Connor continued working for his father. Maeve had always counted Aine as her best friend, and missed having her in the same home each day. At least Aine and Connor lived only a couple of miles away in the village.

Great Uncle Seamus died, and Maeve’s dream of a university education evaporated. His self-indulgent son inherited everything. Since Seamus had not provided for Maeve’s education in writing in his will, his son refused Maeve’s claim, though he knew of his father’s promise.

Soon Maeve’s own father died of a heart attack, and her mom fell ill from grief. Maeve nursed her mom and kept the sheep, hens, and garden going. Occasionally, an older male cousin helped her.

Soon after Aine and Connor's first anniversary, their daughter, Siohan, was born. Connor and his father's business in the small village was not sufficient to support two families. When Aine learned her second child was on the way, Connor made up his mind he and Aine would have more opportunity in America.

 Maeve missed her sister terribly. Aine wrote she missed Maeve, asking her to come as soon as she could. Maeve took care of her mom and the property and animals. After her mother’s death, Maeve sold everything left. That plus the bit her parents had saved gave barely enough to buy her steeredge passage to America.

Ad for steamship similar to the
one in which Maeve traveled 

 Maeve had great hope that in America she’d find a fine a good job. husband, and a grand life. What she found were signs that said No Irish Need Apply and We Don’t Rent To Irish. She lived with Aine and Connor in two rooms of a dilapidated tenement. She slept on the lumpy couch because there was only one bedroom. They only had the couch because someone needed to sell it to pay the rent. Aine helped Maeve get a job with her at a fabric mill, but the work was dangerous, the hours long, and the pay pitifully small.

New York tenement

When Aine announced she was expecting their third child, Maeve knew how, but she had to find somewhere else to live. But where? And how? Although she admired kind and hard-working Connor, she had met no unwed men who caught her eye. When their neighbor Doreen told them of her cousin happy results from answering an ad for a mail order bride, Maeve deliberated about doing the same. Something must change. She resolved to better her life, even if it meant traveling to Texas.

That’s how Maeve Kelly came to arrive in Harrigan Springs, Texas, and when her story really begins. To find out the rest, buy your copy (free in kindle unlimited) from Amazon.

Stay safe and keep reading!

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