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?
My Thoughts: The first book of the series had me beside myself in anticipation of the next book in the series. Sadly, I felt like so much of that tension was missing in The Ladies of Ivy Cottage. I think having that high expectation going into this one had hindered me in enjoying it as much as I had hoped. Setting aside my expectations, there IS a great story here in the inviting Regency era. Klassen draws out Biblical messages on trusting God and forgiveness. There are still some things left undone so there’s plenty to look forward to in the third and final installment. That being said, there were still plenty of romance here and happy endings for some of the characters involved. I enjoyed watching two separate mysteries unfold and come to light. And as always, I enjoyed visiting this charming village and those who live there.
Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving The Ladies of Ivy Cottage 4 stars and recommending it those who enjoy Christian Regency Fiction.
*You’ll want to read this series in order.
~ I received a copy from Bethany House through Net Galley. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.
Romance is a delicate dance bound by rules and expectations in Regency England…
Seven couples must navigate society’s gauntlet to secure the hand of true love….
Charity and Luke are strangers who were forced to marry three years ago.
Adelaide and Walter share a love of music and disdain for elitism.
Caroline and Henry are thrown together by three orphans.
Helen and Isaac harbor his unlikely secret.
Esther is empowered to choose between two men.
Sophia is determined not to choose a man like Nash.
Jamie and William face a daunting London season together.
Will their faith grow and love prevail in a time when both were considered luxuries the elite could not afford?
Overall this was a really enjoyable collection. There were a few minor hiccups but with a collection this large, that’s bound to be the case. I feel comfortable recommending this one to fellow Regency lovers. Each of the stories were unique and unrelated. That makes it easier to pick it up and read one story at a time in between larger novels. I enjoyed being drawn into the Regency world with each individual author. There were a couple stories that felt more shallow to me but overall the set falls into the 4-4.5 star category with some obvious 5 star stories. Here are some of the highlights:
First Comes Marriage by Amanda Barratt: Charity and Luke are strangers who were forced to marry three years ago.
This was such a charming story and a great start to the set. If you enjoy a story where the couple marries before falling in love, this one fits the bill! And the spiritual theme was forgiveness.
Masquerade Melody by Angela Bell: Adelaide and Walter share a love of music and disdain for elitism. There was a Cinderella type of quality to Bell’s novella that I found delightful. And her message on trusting God when things don’t go as you plan was spot on.
Three Little Matchmakers by Susanne Dietze: Caroline and Henry are thrown together by three orphans. This one was one of my favorites. Dietze is gifted at crafting an endearing story with equally endearing characters.
The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady by Michelle Griep: Helen and Isaac harbor his unlikely secret.
Griep brings a dose of excitement with her novella!! There’s certainly a message here on judging one another and on having a benevolent heart.
When I Saw His Face by Nancy Moser: Esther is empowered to choose between two men.
I enjoyed reading about an older heroine. I struggled a bit more with this particular story but I felt at home with Moser’s writing and look forward to giving her other works a try! Moser focuses the reader on themes of understanding and following God’s specific plan for your life.
The Highwayman’s Bargain by MaryLu Tyndall: Sophia is determined not to choose a man like Nash. Tyndall treats the reader to another sweet romance. There was a great message here about trusting Christ with your needs and not running ahead.
*I will note for like-minded readers, that the heroine’s salvation experience included feeling a hand on her shoulder while she was alone in the room and a gust of wind where there were no open windows. Otherwise, it was a very safe and clean story.
Jamie Ever After by Erica Vetsch: Jamie and William face a daunting London season together.
Vetsch wraps up the collection rather nicely. Jamie Ever After was another one of my favorites. Very nicely done!
~ I received a copy from Net Galley. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for my review.
In the fallout of her deceased father’s financial ruin, Annabelle’s prospects are looking bleak. Her fiancé has called off their betrothal, and now she remains at the mercy of her controlling and often cruel brother. Annabelle soon faces the fact that her only hope for a better life is to do the unthinkable and run away to Fellsworth, where her estranged uncle serves as the school’s superintendent. Upon arrival, Annabelle learns that she must shed her life of high society and work for her wages for the first time in her life.
Owen Locke is unswerving in his commitments. As a widower and father, he is fiercely protective of his only daughter. As an industrious gamekeeper, he is intent on keeping poachers at bay even though his ambition has always been to purchase land he can call his own. When a chance encounter introduces him to Annabelle Thorley, his steady life is shaken. For the first time since his wife’s death, Owen begins to consider a second chance at love.
As Owen and Annabelle grow closer, ominous forces threaten the peace they thought they’d found. Poachers, mysterious strangers, and murderers converge at Fellsworth, forcing Annabelle and Owen to a test of fortitude and bravery to stop the shadow of the past from ruining their hopes for the future.
What I Loved: Sometimes a novel is just so perfectly smooth and entertaining that you can’t even begin to explain its awesomeness. A Stranger at Fellsworth was that novel for me. From the very beginning, I was pulled into a story of adventure, romance, and that classic Regency setting. Ladd kept my attention throughout the entire novel with a story that kept pace and the characters evolved.
I read this one without having read the first two novels of the series and it read as a standalone. If there were any characters who crossed over, I didn’t know about it so there doesn’t appear to be any obvious spoilers.
I also had the pleasure of listening to this one in audio and can highly recommend the audio version. The narrator was easy to understand and pleasing to hear.
Rating and Recommendation: I highly recommend this one to those who enjoy Christian Regency and am giving it 5 stars.
~I received a copy from The Fiction Guild. I was not required to review. All thoughts are my own.
I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Dietze’s Regency novel, The Reluctant Guardian last week, and I’m already looking forward to her next. Take a look at her upcoming release and hear some of the inspiration behind the cover.
About the Book/Synopsis: Lady Helena Stanhope’s reputation is in tatters…and she’s lost any hope for a “respectable” ton marriage. An arranged union is the only solution. But once Helena weds formidable Scottish widower John Gordon, Lord Ardoch, and encounters his four mischievous children, she’s determined to help her new, ever-surprising family. Even if she’s sure love is too much to ask for. All John needs is someone to mother his admittedly unruly brood. He never imagined that beautiful Lady Helena would be a woman of irresistible spirit, caring and warmth. Or that facing down their pasts would give them so much in common. Now, as danger threatens, John will do whatever it takes to convince Helena their future together—and his love—are for always.
About the Author:
Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she’s the author of several historical romances who’s seen her work on the ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. You can visit her at: Web Page
Inspiration Behind the Cover:
Susanne shared her Inspiration behind the cover in saying: “I love marriage of convenience stories and always wanted to write one! It’s always fun for me to read a book where the wedding happens at the beginning and things progress out of order with the couple: marriage first, then love. I was able to offer three scene suggestions for the cover, and the wedding was my first choice so I’m thrilled the amazing art department at Harlequin chose to work with it. It’s a hopeful scene, since both the hero and heroine, John and Helena, think getting married will be the answer to their problems: he needs a mother for his three kids and niece, and she needs a respectable home. However, they learn right away that saying “I do” might provide solutions to their immediate issues, but not all of them, and forging a family can be a challenge—one that both breaks and heals their hearts! I love looking at them in this scene and knowing they have adventures ahead that will bring them closer together!”
Susanne Dietze is offering a giveaway just for the event! Follow the link to enter.
Here’s a quick word from Susanne: Don’t forget to enter to win the giveaway! It’s a Spa Moment (alas, a moment is all I can afford with a kid in college.). You can win a copy of The Reluctant Guardian, which takes place in the same story universe as A Mother for His Family; a Beauticontrol Regeneration Pure Hydration Sheet Masque (over $10 value for this lovely masque), and a signed bookplate.