The second book in Julie Klassen’s Ivy Hill series came out earlier this month, and I was happy to use it to inaugurate my new Kindle that David bought me for Christmas!
The Ladies of Ivy Cottage picks up the stories of Mercy Grove, Jane Bell, and Rachel Ashford from the previous book. Mercy continues teaching at her girls’ school and is even asked to become the guardian for one of her pupils. But when her matchmaking parents try to rectify her spinsterhood, her settled way of life and dreams of the future are threatened. The neighboring hotel owner James Drake continues a friendly flirtation with the widowed innkeeper Jane, but what is the secret reason behind his real interest in Ivy Hill?
Rachel receives the most “airtime” in this installment of the series. Courted by her cousin Nicholas Ashford, she still feels her heartstrings pulled by the neighboring landowner, Sir Timothy. And until she can make up her mind to marry, she must find a way to support herself. A goodly part of the novel is devoted to the circulating library that Rachel establishes in the drawing room of Mercy’s school. The neighboring village people begin to patronize the library, paying subscriptions that contribute to Rachel’s livelihood and donating books that contribute to the plot of the story.
Because of the library theme, the novels of Jane Austen figure prominently in the story. Several of the story lines reflect threads from Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion’s second chance romance proves a prototype for one of the relationships.
The first half of the book rehashes a lot of the exposition and feelings from the original book of the series. The mysterious elements that trademark Klassen’s books are mostly absent until the middle of the story, and even when secrets began to tantalize and unfold, this book was not quite as page turning as her other novels.
Despite the lack of action in the first part of the novel, the second half resolves the romantic future of one of our heroines nicely. And, as is fitting for a series, the conclusion leaves the futures of the other two heroines suspended in perplexing dilemmas…which I am looking forward to seeing resolved in the next tale from Ivy Hill.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.