Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Review: The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. Julie Klassen. 2016. Bethany House. 448 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: May 27, 1820 Ivy Hill, Wiltshire, England. Jane Fairmont Bell sat alone in the keeper's lodge she had once shared with her husband. There she began her solitary breakfast, delivered by a maid from the coaching inn across the drive. Her inn. She still struggled to credit it.

Premise/plot: Julie Klassen is beginning a Regency series, Tales from Ivy Hill. The first one is The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. It introduces us to the community of Ivy Hill, particularly the BELL family.

Our heroine is Jane Bell, a widow, who faces personal and financial struggles throughout. It's been one year since her husband died, one year since she found out that her husband left her the inn in his will. During that year, she's had little--if anything--to do with the inn herself. Perhaps that was a mistake, or, maybe she just wasn't ready yet. Thora Bell, Jane's mother-in-law, returns to the INN when she hears--through gossip--that the inn is facing RUIN. Thora isn't the only Bell with an interest in the inn. Patrick Bell, Jane's brother-in-law, is around to "help out" around the inn. But does he want to OWN the inn himself?!

Soon after the novel opens, Jane learns--along with Patrick and Thora--that Jane's husband, John, had taken out a loan from the local bank. The banker says the INN is in debt for 15,000 pounds. Three months to pay it back...or else they'll lose the inn.

My thoughts: Jane, may be the 'main' heroine, but she isn't really the only heroine. THORA, her mother-in-law and RACHEL, her former-best-friend also play big roles in this one. Rachel is a 'spinster' (well, spinster in Regency terms) facing losses of her own. Her father is dying, the estate is entailed, she'll lose her home when he dies. (There is some vague mystery about loves lost in the past and a broken friendship with Jane.) Thora is a widow. She's lost her husband and her son. But there are men around who think she is an ANGEL. Two men 'madly' in love with her. But will she marry again?!

What I loved most about this one was THE COMMUNITY and the potential for giddy-making romance in future books. There were several intriguing potential love interests for Jane and Rachel. (Thora's romance is concluded in this one). There were several flawed but swoon-worthy HEROES in this one. I'm not sure which I'd really, truly want Jane to end up with. But there are two or three I want to get to know better!!!

If you love BBC miniseries, I think this one is a must-read.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible


Joy said...

I enjoy Regency series -- this sounds like fun!

Joy said...

Pretty cover, too!

Tarissa said...

I'd love to read this one. Looks like a good read for a winter's night. :)