The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill (Tales from Ivy Hill #1)
by Julie Klassen (Goodreads Author)First Series from Bestselling Author Julie Klassen!
On a rise overlooking the Wiltshire countryside stands the village of Ivy Hill. Its coaching inn, The Bell, is its lifeblood--along with the coach lines that stop there daily, bringing news, mail, travelers, and much-needed trade.
Jane Bell lives on the edge of the inn property. She had been a genteel lady until she married the charming innkeeper who promised she would never have to work in his family's inn. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Jane finds herself The Bell's owner, and worse, she has three months to pay a large loan or lose the place.
Feeling reluctant and ill-equipped, Jane is tempted to abandon her husband's legacy and return to her former life of ease. However, she soon realizes there is more at stake than her comfort. But who can she trust to help her? Her resentful mother-in-law? Her husband's brother, who wanted the inn for himself? Or the handsome newcomer with secret plans of his own . . . ?
With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane struggles to win over naysayers and turn the place around. Can Jane bring new life to the inn, and to her heart as well?
My Review: 8.5/10
I thought this book was set up in a way to allow for sequels. And lo and behold, I look it up on Goodreads and it's right there in the title: #1.
I have mixed feelings about that. I found it refreshing that there were a lot of things left open ended. Now it just kind of feels like an exceptionally long story. Although I did really enjoy the story, so I guess I am happy over all.
I could not really relate to Jane. She is every bit the gently bred woman, and her mild temper and meek nature had me gritting my teeth for the first half of the book; I hate to see characters struggling privately. I always want to grab them by the shoulders, shake them, and shout, Speak up! Maybe then this can be solved and you won't be suffering! Or at the very least, you won't be suffering alone!
But despite that, I still liked her. And I liked that this story followed the lives of several women, intertwining in daily life or past remembrances.
This was one of those rare books (particularly for this genre) whose primary plotline was not a romance, but more of sisterhood. Despite that, several romantic interests were set up for multiple characters, and I really liked that there were no obvious choices- very unique men with different things to offer and a future that could take shape with any of them.
There were a number of times when connections or opportunities seemed too easy, just too lucky. I could have found it more believable if prayer had been the link, if God had been credited. The story and themes (forgiveness, healing, rising to your circumstances, a change of heart, courage, new beginnings, etc) could have resonated a lot deeper if God had been reflected in them.
But on the whole, I really enjoyed this book. If this review seems a bit scattered, it's because I've been sleep deprived all week thanks to not being able to put this book down.