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Love and Loyalty in a Myth-shrouded Land - an Editorial Review of "Beneath the Darkening Clouds"

Updated: Oct 23, 2022

Book Blurb:

In a land on the brink of ruin, their past can’t be outrun.

They’ve overcome obstacles and endured heartache, but their biggest challenge is yet to come.

It’s 1845 and Ireland is plagued with unrest when the unthinkable happens — the potato harvest on which most Irish peasants depend fails, leaving thousands desperate for food. Unease and fear ripple across the land, along with hunger and disease. With the government’s response inadequate, it’s up to Quin and Alannah to save the people living on their estate.

But all the while, danger lurks from other quarters, as Quin delves into mysteries from his past, incurring the wrath of powerful enemies.

Amid the hardships of the Irish Famine, Beneath the Darkening Clouds sweeps the reader on a heart-wrenching journey of love and loyalty in a myth-shrouded land.

Get the first in the series to get started here:

Read the Editorial Review for "Under the Emerald Sky" (Book One) HERE

Author Bio:

Juliane Weber is a scientist turned historical fiction writer, and author of the Irish Fortune Series. Her stories take readers on action-packed romantic adventures amid the captivating scenery and folklore of 19th century Ireland. Under the Emerald Sky, the first book in the Irish Fortune Series, was awarded bronze medals in The Historical Fiction Company 2021 Book of the Year Contest and The Coffee Pot Book Club 2022 Book of the Year Contest.

Juliane spent most of her life in South Africa, but now lives with her husband and two sons in Hamelin, Germany, the town made famous by the story of the Pied Piper.

Editorial Review:

Historical romance readers can rest assured that Juliane Weber has delivered a very strong second book in the Irish Fortune Series. The story picks up where the last novel ended, with the young Alannah and Quinton now married and settling at Glaslearg to establish a family. Although the journey of this young Anglo-Irish family proves to be challenging, the protagonists, with their strengths, beauty, and justice, are set to endure and prevail.

Juliane Weber's book is a clever mix of love story, suspense, and Gaelic lore, in which Irish history plays an important role. Fans of the genre are rewarded with a sweet romance in which the tension propels them read the book faster.

The story is set in Ireland in the spring of 1845. In 1801 the country was forced into a union with England to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Here is how Quin, an English landlord determined to make a better life for his Irish tenants, sees the country:

"…centuries of oppression and poor land management by their English conquerors had left Irish commoners with little to call their own, and even less chance of improvement."

From the first line, Weber captivates the reader by offering them a glimpse of the dangers yet to come. Then masterfully, the author let us know that the worries are real even if it was just a dream. The couple had made powerful enemies determined to win at any expense. So, we meet the evil contender Mr. Andrews who will stalk Quin through the story to kill him, revealing his antagonist character. We are compelled to follow Alannah and Quin to see how this will play out while we are introduced to secondary characters and their stories and dramas.

Along, we learn much about Ireland's history and culture, from its Gaelic heritage, such as language and rituals, to its more recent clashes with British aristocracy over exploitation of the country and its inhabitants. Irish festivals where Celtic magic overlaps the strong catholic tradition or Irish attitudes towards English oppression are only a few of the historical references we are presented through the book while the characters navigate their indubitable destiny.

Everything revolves around Alannah and Quin and their growing passion amid their desires to become parents. But the story's conflict doesn't come from the main character's internal struggles. It is not their love that's challenged, but their life. We do not fear for the survival of their love. Still, we dread the dangers from external forces that threaten their physical survival, Quin by the hands of an evil man, Alannah by nature's unleashed malevolence.

The plot unfolds slowly, culminating in the novel's second part like a good story arc should do. No disappointments here. Moreover, while we are led to believe that the danger is gone, another more significant threat is around the corner: the Great Famine and its devastating effects on Ireland.

In the end, the love between Alannah and Quin remains unchallenged and productive, but the immediacy of death is more present than ever, and we will fear for their lives beyond the novel's last words. The main characters are whole, fleshy, and blessed with flawlessness, slightly vanilla in the absence of any vice to stain their perfect personality.

Alannah, the daughter of an Irish gentry man, shows traits unusual for ladies of the early Victorian era: she is smart and had received a good education; she's interested in science, a domain where she can sustain a conversation with men in professional fields. Nevertheless, she is still a woman facing the same obtuse mindsets as any other of her gender. The author expresses the attitudes toward females in the following exchange between Mr. Andrews, the villain, and our protagonist, Quin:

Women, of course," he went on earnestly before Quin had recovered sufficiently from his shock to respond, "can't be expected to understand such things. They are simply too soft…and too irrational. That's why they need a man to keep them in line…and make such choices for them." "Is that so?" Quin growled, eying Andrews with extreme dislike. Andrews, however, paid no attention to Quin whatsoever. "If you ask me," the vile man said, "most women are useful for precisely one thing."

Alannah is not only a woman but an Irish woman who must overcome her father-in-law's hostility, who perhaps had hoped for a different arrangement for his son.

Quin, the son of an English baron with properties in Ireland, defies his family's rigid expectations and quits the British army to become "a farmer," as his father called him, dissatisfied with his only son's choice. Owning an estate in Ireland, he must consider the needs of his servants and tenants, impoverished Irish folks wary of England's aristocracy. By the end of the story, Alannah and Quin will prove worthy of respect from Quin's father and Glaslearg community.

With a skillful pen, Weber portrays the characters and settings with historical accuracy for the era. She is a natural in using the language of the time, and even though it may seem a little magisterial to the modern reader, the way the author narrates and builds dialog is perfectly natural to the characters in mid-nineteen century Ireland. And if there is any anticipatory work to be done, it is the desire that Juliane Weber quickly writes the follow-up.


“Beneath the Darkening Clouds” by Juliane Weber receives five stars from The Historical Fiction Company and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence.



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