The lifeblood of the village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. When the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant landlady. Jane has no idea how to manage a business, but with the town's livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must quickly find a way to save the inn.
Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to overcome her losses and find purpose for the future. As she works with Jane, two men from her past vie for her attention, but Thora has promised herself never to marry again. Will one of them convince her to embrace a second chance at love?
As pressure mounts from the bank, Jane employs new methods, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place, including a mysterious newcomer with secret plans of his own. With the help of friends old and new, can Jane restore life to the inn, and to her empty heart as well?
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 www.julieklassen.com
I enjoyed this book so much! I loved the complex characters as well as the complex story that drew me in and made me feel as though I was right there with them in that quaint English village.
We are introduced to Jane, a widow of one year, who has inherited the Inn that her husband owned. This was unusual as her husband had a younger brother and it's unusual to bequeath a business/property to a woman. Jane is still stunned by the death of her husband when she finds out that she owes the bank money for a loan her husband took out that she knew nothing about.
Thora, her mother-in-law, is returning to Ivy Hill and the Bell Inn after going to live with her sister when Jane inherits the inn. Thora grew up at the Inn that her father owned and ran. It's a part of her life blood but she's not sure if she still fits in there or if Jane wants her. Her younger son, Patrick, has also returned to the Inn and we aren't sure if his motives are pure or not.
There is a wonderful cast of characters in this book. The childhood friends of Jane - Mercy, Rachel and Sir Timothy. New friends that are trying to help Jane as she gains her foothold as the owner of the Inn. The different people of the village - many of whom her success or failure will affect their lives. There is also a couple of villains that you'll be booing as you see them trying to put every kind of stumbling block in front of Jane and the people trying to help her.
I absolutely love this book! It's a wonderfully thick book (the best kind, in my opinion) that kept me reading late into the night. I highly recommend it and give it 5 out of 5 stars
*This book was provided to me by Bethany House Blogger Program
Blessings - Julie