Welcome to the English village of Ivy Hill, where friendships thrive, romance blossoms, and mysteries await. . . .
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?
Regency romance writer Julie Klassen returns with the first book in her first series.
Read on for my review, bonus videos, and an excerpt from the book.
The year is 1820: the Napoleonic Wars are over, George IV now reigns in his own right instead of as Regent for his father, and the first railways are just around the corner. The country is changing, and The Bell Inn will need to change with it if it’s to stay in business. Jane Bell is too wrapped in grief to pay attention at first, but a visit from the local bank manager wakes her from her malaise. As Jane takes an interest in the inn, she makes discoveries not only about the business but also about herself. Thora, initially unlikable, also comes to realize a few things about her life. There’s a mystery wrapped into the narrative, however, as both women are puzzled by certain events in the inn’s recent past, events about which they’d previously had no knowledge.
Jane and Thora aren’t the only women in this story. Also featured is Rachel, the daughter of the recently deceased Sir William Ashford of Ivy Hill, and Mercy who is a spinster school teacher. At one point they were both friends with Jane, but time has estranged them. Then there are the women of the village who face challenges regarding their positions in life.
The Innkeeper at Ivy Hill is an engrossing novel about the lifeblood of a small English village. It was interesting to see how the various businesses depended on each other. As well as the mystery mentioned above, there are elements of humor and romance. The book is enhanced by the map of Ivy Hill in the opening pages, although a character list would’ve been helpful. Discussion questions are included for reading groups at the end. A website has also been created to support the Ivy Hill series and, from that, it appears there will be at least three books in the series. The next one, called The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, is due out in December. It’ll be a long wait.
Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary copy of The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)
Publication Date: 27 October 2017
Page Count: 352