My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Received to Review via Netgalley
Genre: Regency Women's Lit
Book Description: On a rise overlooking the Wiltshire countryside stands the village of Ivy Hill. Its coaching inn, The Bell, is its lifeblood--along with the coach lines that stop there daily, bringing news, mail, travelers, and much-needed trade.
Jane Bell lives on the edge of the inn property. She had been a genteel lady until she married the charming innkeeper who promised she would never have to work in his family's inn. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Jane finds herself The Bell's owner, and worse, she has three months to pay a large loan or lose the place.
Feeling reluctant and ill-equipped, Jane is tempted to abandon her husband's legacy and return to her former life of ease. However, she soon realizes there is more at stake than her comfort. But who can she trust to help her? Her resentful mother-in-law? Her husband's brother, who wanted the inn for himself? Or the handsome newcomer with secret plans of his own . . . ?
With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane struggles to win over naysayers and turn the place around. Can Jane bring new life to the inn, and to her heart as well?
My thoughts: I have read several of Julie Klassen's books and this one is very different from the rest. It doesn't have closure, that is because it is the first of a series.
This book is a regency set in a small town in England. The town relies on being part of the royal mail route. Every business relies on the other in some way to keep their small economy afloat. When the Inn is threatened with foreclosure, the life of the town is threatened.
Jane inherited the inn when her husband was killed in an accident a little over a year before the opening of this book. This is different than the typical regency books that I read. Women were frowned upon as business owners. Men were considered the businessmen, while women belonged at home. Jane knows little about running an Inn, she was a socialite before marrying her husband and was content to stay at home and live a life similar to what she grew up with.
I loved reading about Jane's growth not only as a businesswoman, but as a person. She went through some very hard trials, but retained her compassion and integrity. She also learned how to stand up for herself (yay!) and prove that she could make sound decisions on her own. It seemed as if she had many people who did not believe she could/would succeed. She was able to prove to others and herself that she could do it.
I was disappointed that this book was not a romance. I am reviewing mostly about Jane's story, but there are two other women who are highlighted in the book. One is Jane's mother-in-law and the other was a childhood friend. It will be interesting to see how the series ends up. There are so many different ways that it can go. I hope that there will be romance and happiness in the future for the ladies of Ivy Hill. (One has a romance, we'll see what happens to the other two.)
The book began a little slow for me. It took some time for me to become invested in the lives of the characters. I look forward to the future books.
About the Author: (Taken from Goodreads) 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. She has also won the Midwest Book Award, the Minnesota Book Award, and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award, and been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards and ACFW’s Carol Awards. She blogs at http://www.inspiredbylifeandfiction.com.Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.