Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
TYPE OF NOVEL: Regency Romance, Historical Fiction
SETTING: 1820 Wiltshire, England
- Rachel Ashford: With her father passed away and his heir displacing her from her family home, Rachel contemplates a marriage of convenience or earning her livelihood.
- Sir Timothy Brockwell: Childhood playmate of Rachel’s and Jane’s. Eight years ago he courted Rachel, but then broke it off because of family duty.
- Mercy Grove: Plain and unmarried, Mercy works as headmistress of an all-girl school. Her parents are urging her to marry since she is practically a spinster.
- Jane Fairmont Bell: A widow running her husband’s inn. Jane carries her own personal grief and worries that prohibit her from contemplating sharing her life with someone else.
Picking up after the close of The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, Book Two in the Tales From Ivy Hill series follows the lives of Jane, Rachel, Mercy, and many of the inhabitants of the charming village of Ivy Hill. In this book we follow Rachel as she strives to follow her independent and resourceful friends and establish her own business. Her father left her his extensive book collection with instructions not to sell them, so instead Rachel decides to loan out the books and create Ivy Hills’ first circulating library. Can her new business be a success? Will one of her suitors influence Rachel to marry instead?
NOTE: This is Book Two in Ms. Klassen’s Tales from Ivy Hill series. I definitely recommend reading Book One – The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill first to fully understand the history and relationship of all these characters.
WHAT I LOVED:
- Returning to Ivy Hill: I love that Julie Klassen is writing this series. In the first book we are introduced to the bucolic and busy village of Ivy Hill. A village we get to know very well, including many of its interesting and charming inhabitants. It’s wonderful to revisit this bustling hamlet and spend more time within its environs!
- Several Simultaneous Stories: I love how this second book of the series spends almost equal time with each of our main characters – Rachel, Jane, and Mercy. Instead of focusing on one heroine per book, Ms. Klassen has opted to flesh out the stories of these three women throughout the whole series. While Rachel may have been a little more in the spotlight in this tale, readers saw plenty of Mercy and Jane still. And it looks like some things remain unresolved for them at the close of this story…
- So Many Suitors!: With Julie Klassen’s novels, it is a guarantee you will see some romance! But with this series it is often hard to predict wha the romantic pairings will be because for each female character there were almost always two male characters interested/pursuing them! The ratio of men to women in Ivy Hill is very favorable, no? 😉 I loved how many of the suitors were likable and worthy. It makes it a little bit conflicting for the reader to decide which way they want things to go! 😉 I guess readers like to be “crossed in love” too!
- Alternatives to Marriage: It is so interesting to encounter these women who are not actively seeking marriage as their goal. Although they are not adverse to marriage and children, they realize that it is not the only course their life must take. They forge a different path and learn to depend on themselves for their own livelihood. It was so interesting and inspiring to see the various ways women were “breaking the mold” in this series. Not just Jane, Rachel, and Mercy, but each member of The Ladies Tea and Knitting Society as well. I think Jane Austen would heartily approve!
- Julie Klassen Signatures: I love Ms. Klassen’s well-drawn and admirable heroines – and how this series gives us 3 for 1! I love finding all her echoes and nods to Jane Austen – there is quite a lovely Persuasion bit in this story that made my heart melt! And I love the mystery and intrigue she intertwines into each tale – it is always amusing to speculate the answers and wait for the reveal!
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- While I enjoyed Rachel’s story, out of the three women, she may be the one with whom I feel the least connected. I’m greatly looking forward to seeing more of Jane and Mercy in the next book!
With The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, Julie Klassen continues her thoughtful and enchanting series that features courageous women and a charming village combined together for stories of strength, overcoming life’s challenges, and bravely starting over.
At a recent library book sale I spotted a gently-used copy of the first book in this series, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill and thought it would make a great giveaway prize for when I posted this review. 🙂 (Note: this giveaway is for a previously read copy in very good condition.)
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment about my review!
- This giveaway is open to US citizens.
- This giveaway ends May 2nd!