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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The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, by Carolyn Miller

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Will a damaged reputation and desire for society’s approval thwart the legacy of grace?

Tainted by scandal and forced to leave London for the quieter Brighton countryside, the Honorable Miss Clara DeLancey is a shadow of her former society self. She’s lost the man she loved to another and, in a culture that has no patience for self-pity, is struggling with depression. A chance encounter brings her a healing friendship with the sisters of an injured naval captain. But Clara’s society mama is appalled at the new company she’s keeping.

Captain Benjamin Kemsley is not looking for a wife. But his gallant spirit won’t let him ignore the penniless viscount’s daughter–not when she so obviously needs assistance to keep moving forward from day to day. Can he protect his heart and still keep her safe?

When they’re pushed into the highest echelons of society at the Prince Regent’s Brighton Pavilion, this mismatched couple must decide if family honor is more important than their hopes. Can they right the wrongs of the past and find future happiness together–without finances, family support, or royal favor?

First Thoughts:

Since I’ve read and appreciated the first two books in this series, I’m hoping to be similarly satisfied with Miss DeLancey’s story.

My Take:

What is it with Regency society mamas who want their daughters to marry for titles and security? Is it out of a genuine concern for their daughter’s wellbeing? Is it because their mothers had them marry for the same reasons? Even though the DeLancey fortunes have sunk Frederica, Viscountess Winpoole, still has high hopes for her daughter. Whoever marries Clara must have equal rank of Viscount Winpoole or higher. A mere baron or anyone untitled simply will not do. Her actions have embarrassed Clara, who’s now the talk of the ton, and the poor girl is ready to end it all. Except… someone stops her.

The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey (a play on Clara’s courtesy title) starts and ends in dramatic fashion. Clara is at her lowest until she meets both a savior and her Savior. But church is a place where you go to be seen; doing benevolent works in a poor part of town is no task for a lady. Clara still has a couple of connections, however, and she uses them to introduce the youngest Kemsley sister to society. It’s a move that will bring her back in contact with her former romantic interest and his new wife, a woman who shows extraordinary grace to Clara and therefore helps in her healing.

This was an enjoyable novel of brave military men, pompous members of society, and scoundrels who are anything but the Han Solo sort of scoundrel we love. Tense times lead to more than one encounter with evil, resulting in no way out for the doers of evil. Clara rises from despair to happiness, and her story shows that we are never really alone. He is with us, even if we don’t know it. Kemsley’s fortunes change in a somewhat predictable way, perhaps necessary for the narrative’s requisite happy ending.

I do suggest reading the previous two books in the series. While this book brings the trilogy, A Legacy of Grace, to a close it does appear that they form part of a larger series called Regency Brides. The next trilogy in the series, A Promise of Hope, looks like it’ll be published early next year with the first principal female being someone familiar to Carolyn Miller’s readers.

Thank you to Kregel for my complimentary copy of The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Kregel Publications

Publication Date: 24 October 2017

Page Count: 296

Read more on:   Kregel’s Website   Carolyn Miller’s Website   Brighton Pavilion

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

An Inconvenient Beauty, by Kristi Ann Hunter

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, so he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. While he’s certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, she is strangely elusive, and he can’t seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge.

Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, she has no choice but to agree to a bargain that puts her at odds with all her romantic hopes–as well as her conscience. And the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she regrets the unpleasant obligation that prevents her from any dream of a future with him.

As all Griffith’s and Isabella’s long-held expectations are shaken to the core, can they set aside their pride and fear long enough to claim a happily-ever-after?

First Thoughts:

The final installment of the Hawthorne House series focusses on the eldest sibling and head of the family.

My Take:

When you’re a duke and you’ve witnessed the difficulties your younger siblings have experienced when choosing to marry for love, what do you do? Do you seek the same course, or do you decide to marry someone society deems appropriate to be a duchess? What if the woman you choose happens to be in love with someone else? What if you find yourself falling in love with her cousin? These are questions Griffith must ask himself throughout the course of the final book in Kristi Ann Hunter’s Hawthorne House series.

This is a dark novel at times. Isabella is never in danger, but her uncle is manipulative and you feel there is little he will not do to get his way. Everything he does is fueled by a desire for vengeance against those perceived to have done him a grievous wrong. Society mamas aren’t the only ones jostling to see their daughter married to a duke, but none go to the lengths Lord Pontebrook will to see that their daughter doesn’t marry the wrong man (in this case, an English soldier). Thankfully, the darkness is balanced by moments of lightness. Check out the scene where Griffith is injured and must rely on a certain young lady for assistance.

What I got out of this book is a confirmation that God really does laugh at man’s pathetic plans. Griffith thinks he has everything worked out, even though his family disagrees. Conversations with his brother and brothers-in-law do little to sway him from his course. Scenes of godly men counseling each other have been a welcome feature of the Hawthorne House series. Each man desires to do God’s will, even when they aren’t sure what it is or it seemingly goes against their own wishes.

Such is the power of Hunter’s writing that she made me connect with secondary and minor characters.  I was disappointed to not see Frederica’s happy ever after. How would her father have reacted? And what of the other women, whose mothers were looking to marry them off to a duke? Did they find happiness also? Above all, however, I felt sad at having to say goodbye to the Hawthorne family. I hope Hunter’s next series will have me feeling the same.

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary copy of An Inconvenient Beauty, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read An Inconvenient Beauty? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 05 September 2017

Page Count: 384

Read more on:   Bethany House’s Website   Kristi Ann Hunter’s Website   The Battle of Waterloo

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