About the book: 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?
Paperback, 448 pages Published December 6, 2016, by Bethany House Publishers
My review: A widow has inherited the coaching inn owned by her husband and his family. She tries to make a go of it even though she has no idea how to run an inn. Jane was a gentle-born woman and was only taught to do the proper things a lady does, not how to run a business. With the help of her brother-in-law, Patrick, and the sometimes not so wanted help of her mother-in-law, Jane tries to save the family business.
This was my first read by Julie Klassen and I found the description of the book intriguing. Add to that a lovely cover and I couldn’t wait to read this story. However, I found the story started out a bit slow and never really picked up the pace like I wanted it to. At times I wasn’t as interested in the story as I should have been. At other times the story was interesting and I found myself quickly working my way through the book. I enjoyed reading about the daily running of the inn.
While the characters are well-developed and complex, I just didn’t feel a strong connection to them. I really wish I would have had stronger feelings about Jane but I found her lackluster at times. I didn’t like Patrick and thought him to be a bit on the shady side. Thora was supposed to be the meddling mother-in-law but I found myself drawn to her the most. She seemed the most rooted of the characters and there is more to her than meets the eye.
There are plenty of twists and turns and enough mysterious happenings to keep the reader interested which is a good thing because at over 400 pages the book is rather lengthy. I was a little disappointed in the ending as I felt like there were too many loose ends. I realize this is only the first book of the series but I would have liked to see more resolution in the storylines.
All in all, this isn’t a horrible book but it just wasn’t one that I found to be extremely entertaining. I still haven’t decided if I will make the effort to read the next book in the series. Maybe after some time away from the characters I will want to visit again. Only time will tell.
I received a complimentary copy of this book and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions in this review are mine.
About the author: 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.