The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant landlady. Jane has no idea how to manage a business, but with the town's livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must quickly find a way to save the inn.
Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to overcome her losses and find purpose for the future. As she works with Jane, two men from her past vie for her attention, but Thora has promised herself never to marry again. Will one of them convince her to embrace a second chance at love?
As pressure mounts from the bank, Jane employs new methods, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place, including a mysterious newcomer with secret plans of his own. With the help of friends old and new, can Jane restore life to the inn, and to her empty heart as well?
As a huge fan of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, I was delighted to review Klassen's latest novel, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill - the first in a new series titled, Tales From Ivy Hill. How exciting! I just knew that I would be in for quite a treat. And how right I was! I absolutely LOVED The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill!! It was the perfect book to settle down with this holiday season - heartwarming with a bit of mystery, which I just love. And the writing was top notch, filled with rich and vivid details that bring the village of Ivy Hill to life. Oh, and the characters - I couldn't help but fall in love with them. Seriously, this book is amazing!
So what exactly is The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill about? Set during the Regency era, this novel tells the story of Jane Bell and the village of Ivy Hill. Jane was married to John who ran the inn, The Bell. After he suddenly passes away it is up to her to take over and become the new innkeeper - a job that she is not prepared for. Jane is not a business woman in the least and finds herself struggling to figure out how to keep the inn running and pay off the huge loan her husband had taken out before he died. A loan that no one knew anything about and where exactly did the money go? Hmm...John had some secrets after all. Of course, as Jane is trying to figure things out, her mother-in-law Thora makes things more complicated. She has no confidence in Jane and sees her more as a trophy wife than an innkeeper. The Bell is important to Thora and the village and she hates the idea that Jane is now running it - what if she lets it fall to ruin (which is exactly what Thora is sure will happen)? Talk about stress for Jane - not only does she have to learn the ins and outs of running an inn and pay off her husband's loan, but she has to contend with her prickly and resentful mother-in-law. Ack! What a nightmare! Will Jane be able to get Thora off her back? Will she be able to pay off that loan and figure out what it was for? What about The Bell, will she be successful or run it to the ground?
Let me just say that The Bell will thrive - thanks to Jane, Thora, family and friends from Ivy Hill. This book is all about community and what we make of it. With the help of those around her, Jane will indeed manage to figure things out. Of course, it won't be easy and along the way there will be some mysteries to figure out - such as that loan (what was it for?) Is Patrick Bell truly trying to help the Inn or not? And who exactly is Gabriel Locke? Along with these mysteries, we get to know some of the women of Ivy Hill through their knitting group where they discuss matters of the heart and matters of business. We learn about property laws and how women were never given credit for their hard work. It helps in understanding why Thora was so resentful of Jane. And it shows us how Jane finally realizes that she too wasn't as open-minded when it came to the fairer sex. Talking with these women helps to open Jane's eyes to so much and I just loved it. As for Thora, she begins to understand where Jane is coming from and watches as her daughter-in-law grows into a businesswoman. Oh, and she also manages to capture the attention of two suitors along the way. And that is all I will say about this fantastic novel. I think I've shared more than enough details about the story, now its time for you to read it for yourself and find out the rest. Believe me, you will LOVE The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. There is mystery, drama, and a spot of romance - all the right ingredients for an unputdownable story. I absolutely enjoyed it to bits and can't wait for the next one in the series.
I would happily recommend The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill to fans of Klassen's books and anyone looking for a new great read - you will LOVE getting lost in Julie Klassen's words and world! In fact check out the details below regarding Klassen's amazing giveaway!! You may just be lucky enough to win a copy of this book and more. Good luck!!!
Be sure to enter the giveaway before you leave - the winner will receive a $20 Teavana gift card and a package of four inspirational British romances from four different eras (The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen, A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell, The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White, Not by Sight by Kate Breslin). The winner will notified on December 22.