O’Donovan Family Series by Ellen Gable


After marrying the man of her dreams, Caroline must endure tragedy and forced marriage to a man she despises.

IN NAME ONLY (Book One) is set in 1876 Philadelphia.  Caroline Martin’s life has finally taken a turn for the better.  After years of hard work, she has met a virtuous and wealthy man whose love seems to promise the kind of life realized only within the comforting novels she keeps on her night table.  Tragedy, however, will teach Caroline of the complexity with which God Himself authors the lives of those who turn towards Him.

IN NAME ONLY, in 2009 was awarded the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval and won the 2010 Gold Medal, Best Religious Fiction, Independent Publisher Book Awards

IN NAME ONLY reached #1 in Religious Fiction in 2012 and remained in the top ten for most of 2012.

Now available in Portuguese!






“If you love romance but hate smut, pick up this beautiful story and let it carry you away. The characters are believable, layered, human and humorous even in the midst of tragedy. The reader never loses hope and is rewarded on every page with little gems of character behavior, dialogue, plot twists and romantic intrigue…I was so very sorry when it ended and so thrilled to hear a rumor that she is writing a sequel. Let it be a series, Lord!” Lisa Mladinich, author, Heads Bowed, True Radiance and founder of Amazing Catechists.com  

“Gable has skillfully crafted this intriguing novel, introducing many turns and twists in the plot, which will keep her reader’s eyes glued to the page, eager to learn the outcome of her tale. As the reader proceeds, he/she discovers the true depth of the novel – which conveys the beautiful Catholic teachings on conjugal love, and shares both a pro- life story and a conversion story.” Jean Heimann, Catholic Fire

“Searching for a page-turning historical Catholic novel? “In Name Only” by Ellen Gable is one book you won’t want to put down until you finally reach its satisfying conclusion.   Anne Faye, novelist


Death, Caroline’s father had once told her, was a natural part of life, one that she did not like, not in the least bit. This aversion was not based on the eventuality that she would have to yield to it someday, but because losing someone so precious took its emotional toll on one’s heart and often at a most inappropriate time.    Presently, she was surrounded by more people than she had seen in five

Presently, she was surrounded by more people than she had seen in five months, and it unnerved her.  In fact, Caroline expected the other passengers to point their fingers and urgently declare, “That woman ought to be traveling in the front cars with the rest of the third-class passengers!”    

It was a cloudy, threatening-to-rain day, the 21st  of April in the year of our Lord, 1876.  Caroline stared blankly out the window of the train.  She attempted to take a deep breath, then concluded that in the dictionary, there ought to be a new definition beside the word corset: vexatious.  The horrid garment made her sit so straight, she felt like one of those wax figures at the museum.      On the seat beside her sat Mrs. Shepherd, who had been employed by

On the seat beside her sat Mrs. Shepherd, who had been employed by her uncle to serve as Caroline’s chaperone for the journey.  The elderly Mrs. Shepherd seemed like a kind lady who had skin that was almost translucent, and gray hair that seemed a shade of light blue under her indigo-colored hat. She sat rather straight and unmoving which led Caroline to believe that the elderly woman’s own corset was most likely the cause of her severe posture.     

Caroline smoothed out her black dress then folded her hands on her lap. Papa had often told her that she was beautiful, but Caroline knew that her physical traits, namely, her copper hair and pale, freckled skin, were not as sophisticated as the upper class women she had seen in Boston, the ones with the finely-made dresses, fashionable hairstyles and face paint.    

With her father now gone and her mother having already passed years before,  Caroline had few choices. One was to  take a job as a kitchen servant at an upscale home in Boston.  The other was to move in with her Uncle Edward and her cousin, Elizabeth, in Philadelphia.  She knew that they lived in a grand mansion but couldn’t remember when, if ever, she had met them.  Uncle had generously sent her money to remain in her small row house in Boston, as it was her desire to spend the bulk of her initial grief in private.  In the past few weeks, however, Uncle Edward had been sending constant telegrams urging her to come to Philadelphia.  Since he had been so kind, the least Caroline could do now was to yield to his request.


Impatient to marry, will oldest O’Donovan daughter Kathleen ever find true love and happiness?

A SUBTLE GRACE (Book Two) is set in 1896, Philadelphia. In this sequel (and standalone novel) to In Name Only (FQP 2009), A Subtle Grace continues the story of the wealthy and unconventional O’Donovan Family as they approach the dawn of a new century At 19, Kathleen (oldest daughter) is unmarried with no prospects.  Fearing the lonely fate of an old maid, her impatience leads to an infatuation with the first man who shows interest. The suave, handsome son of the local police chief seems a perfect match.  But will her impulsive manner prevent her from recognizing her true beloved?  A disturbing turn of events brings a dark shadow that threatens the life- long happiness she desires. Dr. Luke Peterson (the family’s new physician) also makes quite an impression on Kathleen. His affection for her leads him to startling revelations: about Kathleen, about his practice and, most importantly, about himself. Will (oldest son) believes God may be calling him to a religious vocation. Eventually, he discovers the hidden circumstances of his humble beginnings compelling him to embark on a pilgrimage to Rome.

A SUBTLE GRACE received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval in 2014 and was a finalist in the 2015 IAN Book Awards in both the Historical and Romance categories.








“…‘A Subtle Grace’ is a masterfully written illustration of the difference between lust and love, between rashness and fortitude, between mere existence and truly living.”  AnnMarie Creedon, author, Angela’s Song

 “The plot tugs at the heart and gets the heart racing.  Reading ‘A Subtle Grace’ was like riding a Victorian-era wooden roller coaster: a luscious historical setting that provides a tantalizingly dangerous thrill ride.”  Erin McCole Cupp, author, Don’t You Forget About Me

“This is one of my favorite contemporary works of Catholic fiction. The storytelling is masterful, the characters fascinating, and the writing is of high literary quality…In this story it’s shown how the greatest mistake of our lives can be turned into one of the most amazing blessings and even be a source of hope for others.” Trisha Niermeyer Potter, Prints of Grace

“…readers of In Name Only won’t want to miss this one! The story kept me so interested that I hardly realized this was, in fact, a lengthy book. ‘A Subtle Grace’ is a novel to stir your heart, your emotions, and your soul. I highly recommend it!”  Therese Heckenkamp, award-winning author, Frozen Footprints

Beyond mere lust there is a healing hope which can bear not only joy, but a wonderful story – ‘A Subtle Grace’ was very engaging and certainly kept me turning the pages.” A.K. Frailey, author, The Deliverance Trilogy


 I witnessed another human being coming into the world.

Kathleen’s head sunk deeply into her feather pillow as she stared upward.  Her oil lamp, as always, was dimly lit and projected a small yellow-white circle onto the ceiling. From as far back as she could remember, Kathleen had despised the blackness that surrounded her at night. She felt safer when there was light, even a flicker.   If she woke and the oil lamp had gone out, she felt like she was suffocating.  When the light came on, she could breathe again.  It was foolish to be afraid of the darkness; nonetheless, the fear remained.

She tossed back and forth as sleep eluded her. How could she possibly rest after what she had just witnessed?

While she looked forward to college, she wished that her non-married state had not necessitated her choosing a college at all. She would have preferred to be married by now, but thus far, no eligible bachelor — at least none of whom Kathleen approved — had shown serious interest.

The clock downstairs struck quarter past three.  Her younger siblings hadn’t wakened during the night – Mama had kept fairly quiet during labor – but in the morning, all of her brothers would be excited to discover that they had a new sister.

After five brothers, it seemed like having a sister was an impossible dream. For a moment, Kathleen thought of her own vocation, confident that it was marriage and motherhood.  Her “coming out” reception last year when she was eighteen was a tremendous success.  Why, then, was she not married yet?  Two of her friends from high school had already married.  Kathleen was beginning to think she might become — heaven forbid — an “old maid.”

It was essential that Kathleen meet her future husband immediately to stave off this terrible fate. As far as the motherhood aspect of her vocation, after seeing firsthand what happens to a woman during the birthing process, Kathleen doubted that she would have as high a tolerance for pain as her mother obviously possessed.