Happy Holidays! I hope all of you have had an enjoyable Saturday. The clock is quickly counting down to Christmas. If you are like me, you still have items on your Christmas "to do" list. I do not see decorations getting up outside this year. Today I am featuring Julie Klassen (click on her name to find her other novels). She writes lovely Christian, historical romance novels.
The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen is the first book in Tales from Ivy Hill. Jane Bell has been widowed for one year. She has been in a type of slumber (or stupor) and has not done anything about the coaching inn, The Bell, she inherited from her husband (much to her mother-in-law’s dismay). Thora Bell, Jane’s mother-in-law, went to live with her sister, Diana after her son passed away. But the life of leisure is not suited to her. Thora misses running the inn and when she receives a letter from the housekeeper about the sad state of the place, she returns to Ivy Hill (Wiltshire, England) for a “visit”. Walter Talbot, who ran the inn during Thora’s reign, left when his brother passed away and he inherited the family farm. Patrick, Thora’s younger son, returned to the inn a month and a half prior after hearing about his brother’s death (he seems dubious). Mr. Bloomfield, the local banker, visits stating that John Bell took out a loan of 15,000 pounds and it is now due (he has waited a year to tell Jane about this loan). Jane was unaware of the debt and has no way to repay it. Business at The Bell has tapered off since John’s death (along with Talbot and Thora’s leaving) and the installation of the new turnpike. Jane only has three months to prove that she can make The Bell profitable, or the bank will sell it. Jane cannot let the inn be sold. It will mean a loss of income for so many people in their village. Jane sets out to turn The Bell around and prove that she has what it takes to run it.
The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill is a good story, but it is a little slow in places. It is set in 1820 in a small village in England. I liked the characters and the lovely setting. I enjoyed watching Jane change (develop) as the novel progressed. We also get to see adjustments in Thora and her beliefs about marriage. Thora and her two suitors are prominent in The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill (I could not fit everything into the summary). I give The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill 4 out of 5 stars. The book is well-written and Ms. Klassen does a great job at capturing the time period. The novel has romance (of course) and a mystery. It was interesting to read about a coaching inn and the part they played in a village and with travelers. We are left with Jane’s story unfinished, and readers will have to wait for the next installment of Tales from Ivy Hill. If you enjoy historical romance novels, I recommend The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. I will be reading the next book in Tales from Ivy Hill.
I am off to work on one of the Christmas tree's (the lights take me forever to do) and then watch A Nutcracker Christmas on the Hallmark Channel. May all of you have an enjoyable night. Take care and Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader