The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, by Julie Klassen

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Return to Ivy Hill as friendships deepen, romances blossom, and mysteries unfold . . .

A gentlewoman in reduced circumstances, Miss Rachel Ashford lives as a guest in Ivy Cottage. With her meager funds rapidly depleting, she is determined to earn her own livelihood . . . somehow. Her friend Jane Bell and the other village women encourage her to open a circulating library with the many books she’s inherited from her father. As villagers donate additional books and Rachel begins sorting through the volumes, she discovers mysteries hidden among them. A man who once broke her heart helps her search for clues, but both find more than they bargained for.

Rachel’s hostess, Mercy Grove, has given up thoughts of suitors and finds fulfillment in managing her girls school. So when several men take an interest in Ivy Cottage, she assumes pretty Miss Ashford is the cause. Exactly what–or whom–has captured each man’s attention? The truth may surprise them all.

First Thoughts:

I loved Julie Klassen’s previous book, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, so I’m delighted to have the opportunity to read and review The Ladies of Ivy Cottage.

My Take:

Julie Klassen’s debut series continues with a book focusing on two spinsters who run a small girls’ school and their friend. These women, first introduced in The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, are considered past their prime when it comes to marriage eligibility but each has a reason for their singleness. But could their romantic fortunes be changing?

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is the second book of the Tales from Ivy Hill series, and I definitely recommend reading the book one before starting it. Ivy Cottage starts almost immediately after the culmination of events in previous book, and there are plenty of references to these events. Almost all the characters featured were introduced previously and this novel focuses on their efforts to break free from their pasts. There are also poignant looks at the loss of family members and the process of getting old.

Of course, my British upbringing means, when it comes to British-based fiction, I often notice that which most readers would not. I think Klassen possibly muddled two historical Wiltshire locations. In one chapter she describes a visit to a place called Old Sarum, “or ‘Stonehenge’ as some call it. Old Sarum is the remains of a medieval settlement, but the narrative clearly describes Stonehenge which is known for its prehistoric stone circle.

I’m disappointed that it appears the Ivy Hill series will end after the next book. Since it’s been compared to The Thrush Green series by Miss Read and the Mitford series by Jan Karon (both of which contain multiple novels), I had expected more than just three books. Regardless, I am looking forward to The Bride of Ivy Green which will be released in December 2018.

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary copy of The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, which I received for my honest review.

Have you read The Ladies of Ivy Cottage? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Author Q and A

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 05 December 2017

Page Count: 448

Read more on:   Bethany House’s Website   Julie Klassen’s Website   Tales From Ivy Hill

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

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Out of the Ordinary, by Jen Turano

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Working as a paid companion may be quite commonplace, but Miss Gertrude Cadwalader’s eccentric employer makes her job unpredictable, to say the least. She finds herself carrying out an array of highly unusual tasks, including wearing peculiar outfits and returning items the woman pilfered. But when the wealthy Mrs. Sinclair catches Gertrude sneaking around the Sinclair yacht with some of the missing items in her possession, she immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion.

Shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair is caught in the middle of a misunderstanding between his mother and Gertrude, but he can’t help coming to his friend’s defense. Even as he hopes their friendship might become something more, Harrison is unprepared for the outlandish escapades that seem to follow the lovely, anything-but-ordinary Gertrude at every turn.

First Thoughts:

I jump at any Jen Turano book. They’re almost always a fun read!

My Take:

I almost always enjoy a novel by Jen Turano. You know what you’re going to get: a lighthearted book that might include a difficult subject, which contains subtle humour, quirky characters, and an even subtler social commentary on the Gilded Age. Out of the Ordinary continues the series about social “wallflowers” Permilia, Gertrude, and Temperance. These women aren’t really welcome at social events, but are still expected to attend due to family and other connections. Everything is explained in the first book in the Apart From the Crowd series, Behind the Scenes, so I do suggest you read that. That was Permilia’s story, and now the focus has switched to Gertrude.

To be honest, there’s little I can say about Out of the Ordinary that I’ve not said about Jen Turano’s other novels. Yes, there’s a slight formulaic feel to them but “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” as the saying goes. If Turano was to change her style, I’d probably be one of many fans who’d be disappointed. Harrison’s sisters were a welcome addition and I’d love to see them star in their own series. Turano’s writing is also clever: she manages to sneak in a Star Wars reference without it sounding at all anachronistic. There is a plot resolution that feels slightly contrived, but everybody deserves a happy ending, so why not?

If you love fun historical novels that aren’t full of romantic cliché (this one even has references to those sorts of books!), then I heartily recommend any of Jen Turano’s books including this one. But do read them in order, including any prequels, so that you can maximize your enjoyment of this singular author.

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary copy of Out of the Ordinary, which I received for my honest review.

Have you read Out of the Ordinary? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Author Q and A

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 07 November 2017

Page Count: 352

Read more on:   Bethany House’s Website   Jen Turano’s Website   Coney Island’s Manhattan Beach Resort

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

A Dangerous Legacy, by Elizabeth Camden

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Telegraph operator Lucy Drake is a master of Morse code and has made herself a valuable asset to the Associated Press news agency. But the sudden arrival of Sir Colin Beckwith at rival British news agency Reuters puts her hard-earned livelihood at risk. Colin is talented, handsome, insufferably charming–and keeping a secret that jeopardizes his reputation.

Despite their rivalry, Lucy can’t deny that Colin has the connections she needs to give her family an edge in the long legal battle they’ve been waging over their rightful inheritance. But when she negotiates an unlikely alliance with him, the web of treachery they dive into proves to be far more dangerous than they ever could have known.

First Thoughts:

Elizabeth Camden is one of the Christian fiction authors to whom I tend to gravitate.

My Take:

Do you like pertinent information in a novel being given to you gradually, or do you want to know it immediately? While I find it can be intriguing to put the pieces together, especially in a mystery novel, there are also times when I want to know NOW! I was in one of the latter moods during the opening pages of A Dangerous Legacy. I wanted to know what the legal issue was and I wanted it yesterday! Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long to discover why Lucy and her brother didn’t have much of a life outside of their jobs and the courtroom. I was also charmed by the cricket reference in those early pages and the accuracy of the detail in it. Yes, Britain, my home country, known for tea (which I can’t stand) and cricket (which I adore).

Fans of shows such as Downton Abbey will enjoy this tale of those who have, those who don’t, and those who fall somewhere in between. Colin is one of those members of the British aristocracy who is land rich and cash poor. He’s looking to marry a wealthy American heiress so he can repair his ancestral home and provide not only for his family but also for those who live and work on the estate. The pretensions of the Gilded Age are fully displayed, with the newly wealthy flocking to him because of his title. Lucy and Nick show concern for the have-nots, while they themselves are in the in between crowd. Readers will also get an insight into the news wire rivalries, sewers, and insane asylums of the early twentieth century although, personally, I could’ve done without the sewer knowledge!

A Dangerous Legacy was a book I really enjoyed. I liked Colin and Lucy: they were down to earth, practical people who were honest with each other, although they did show their emotions. There were no contrived misunderstandings between them either. There were plenty of dramatic moments and some equally beautiful ones too. And, the nice things is, I didn’t have to say a complete goodbye to these characters as this is the first in a new series! The second book, featuring Lucy’s brother, is coming out in early 2018. Sounds like you’ll want to have read this one first though.

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary electronic copy of A Dangerous Legacy, which I downloaded from NetGalley. No review was required.

Have you read A Dangerous Legacy? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 03 October 2017

Page Count: 352

Read more on:   Bethany House’s Website   Elizabeth Camden’s Website   The Gilded Age’s real-life “Dollar Princesses”

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com