Wednesday, January 24, 2018

"The Ladies of Ivy Cottage" by Julie Klassen

When I started reading The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, it took me about three pages to remember just how much I enjoyed the first book in Julie Klassen's Tales from Ivy Hill series, and my enjoyment just kept increasing the farther I read ... I was so engrossed that I read the entire novel in one day!

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.

If you enjoy historical British shows and movies like Cranford, Lark Rise to Candleford, or any of the Jane Austen adaptations, you'll love Julie Klassen's Tales from Ivy Hill series. (You'll also enjoy it if you've read the books those shows and films are based on, I assume ... but, as I've only ever read Pride & Prejudice, I can't really speak to the books 😆.)

The Ladies of the Cottage continues many of the stories begun in The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. This novel focuses mainly on three characters: Rachel, disgraced by her father's financial ruin and evicted from their home upon his death; Mercy, who runs a girls' school out of her family home and offers Rachel a place to stay; and Jane, proprietress of the Bell Inn.

While Rachel mulls over a proposal from a distant relative, she still has feelings for Sir Timothy, who may be pursuing Jane. But widowed Jane has given her heart to someone else, though she's not sure she'll be able to face the pain that another marriage could bring. Mercy has long resigned herself to the childless life of a spinster, but suddenly she has the opportunity to become guardian to one of her dearest pupils, and two (or maybe three???) potential suitors emerge. As the women each try to navigate their love lives, they grow closer as friends and uncover some long-buried secrets while learning to trust God with their stories.

I am 100%, unequivocally in love with this series! It's gentle and sweet, yet also deeply compelling. The romance in The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is kicked up a notch from what it was in book one, so it's a little more like a stand-alone Klassen romance in that regard. Jane and Rachel both have very romantic declaration scenes (Rachel's is tied to a book—fitting, as she runs the lending library—and is oh-so-swoony), and I have hope that Mercy's love life will really take off in the next novel! The three friends and their romances aren't the only highlights of the novel, though. The minor characters are well-drawn and interesting, and all of the plots and subplots kept me flying through the pages.

This is a series that should really be read in order, so if you haven't yet, pick up a copy of The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, and then follow it up immediately with this novel! I'm eagerly anticipating the release of book three, The Bride of Ivy Green (who could it be???), in December. 5 stars.

Read my reviews of Klassen's The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill (5 stars) The Painter's Daughter (5 stars), The Apothecary's Daughter (3-1/2 stars), The Maid of Fairbourne Hall (4-1/2 stars), The Tutor's Daughter (5 stars), The Dancing Master (4-1/2 stars), and The Secret of Pembrooke Park (4 stars).

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full-time. Three of her books, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for genre fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing's BEST Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards and ACFW's Carol Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from the author and Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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