Monday, December 11, 2017

Julie Klassen: The Ladies of Ivy Cottage

By Kelly Bridgewater

Return to Ivy Hill in The Ladies of Ivy Cottage as friendships deepen, romances blossom, and mysteries unfold.

Living with the two Miss Groves in Ivy Cottage, impoverished gentlewoman Rachel Ashford is determined to earn her own livelihood . . . somehow. When the village women encourage her to open a subscription library with the many books she has inherited or acquired through donations, Rachel discovers two mysteries hidden among them. A man who once broke her heart helps her search for clues, but will both find more than they bargained for?

Rachel's friend and hostess, Mercy Grove, has given up thoughts of suitors and fills her days 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 who--has captured each man's attention? The truth may surprise them all.

Meanwhile, life has improved at the coaching inn and Jane Bell is ready to put grief behind her. Now if only the man she misses would return--but where is he?

As the women of Ivy Hill search for answers about the past and hope for the future, might they find love along the way?

From Amazon

My Thoughts:

When I think of Regency romance, I think Julie Klassen and Sarah E. Ladd. Both authors capture the essence of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters when they compose a novel. I was introduced to Klassen's writing with The Secret of Pembroke Hall, which I enjoyed. I loved the mystery surrounding the house. As for her newest addition to her first series, The Ladies of Ivy Hall, the story lagged in the beginning, but then picked up pace as the novel moved along.

The top aspect of Klassen's writing is her ability to create the world for her characters. She does a great job at describing and staying true to her settings. I have no problem visualizing the settings with her characters and traveling with them as they move around. I can see the houses and the inn. The story becomes alive with her setting.

The characters shine in their different settings. I really liked seeing more of Rachel in this edition. She became front and center as one of the main characters, and it was nice seeing develop a library that would give her a way to provide for herself. Mercy was a character that shined in this story too. We learned more about her family and her situation that Klassen made hard for her to survive. Again, we return to the story of Jane, but Klassen draws her closer to a happy ending, but rips the rug right out from under her. I really don't see any transformation of the three main women. A couple of the men change, but the women don't really.

The plot lagged in the beginning. I thought that I would be giving a bad review because I couldn't stay focused on the plot. The story is just the characters moving around and doing things, but no real conflict. Then the story picks up around sixty percent where the conflict comes one after another. Once majority of the conflict is solved, than Klassen throws in hopeful resolutions for each woman. I wanted more with the plot.

The spiritual element isn't really there either. I didn't know what the novel's theme was. The characters attended church, but nothing really spiritual about any of them.

Overall, The Ladies of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen features a wonderful world brought to life with vibrant characters who begged me to stay and learn more about them, but the plot of their story didn't really capture my attention until almost the end.

I received a complimentary copy of The Ladies of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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