I am already a happy reader of Julie Klassen’s books. They are easy to read, but not “simple”. Lots of character interaction. And she does thorough research into time periods and places. Nothing can pull me out of my reading bliss faster than a glaring historical inaccuracy. (Like a drone in the Middle Ages…)
The publisher’s blurb:
First Series from Bestselling Author Julie Klassen!
The lifeblood of the Wiltshire village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. But when the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant owner. Jane has no notion of how to run a business. However, with the town’s livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must find a way to bring new life to 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 find her place in the world. As she and Jane work together, they form a measure of trust, and Thora’s wounded heart begins to heal. When she encounters two men from her past, she sees them–and her future–in a different light.
With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane employs innovative methods to turn the inn around, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place. Will her efforts be enough to save The Bell? And will Thora embrace the possibility of a second chance at love?
What I thought of the book:
First off, I was thrilled to find out Julie Klassen is embarking on a series. Opening a book and meeting with characters who feel like old friends is great. In this book, Klassen has already introduced a number of people we’re sure to learn more about as time goes on.
This story was a little on the slow side, but that wasn’t a problem where I was concerned – it was like taking your time to get to know people. The village of Ivy Hill came alive with her words, and Klassen made it so you would want to seek out this inn if you were of a mind to do so.
The romance isn’t quite what I had expected, which made it all the more wonderful. And so many possibilities for future unions, too! Jane Bell, the young widow whose late husband surprised everyone by leaving the family inn to her, is a likable character – though there are a few times I wanted to bop her on the head for something or other. Her mother-in-law, Thora Bell, whose family originally owned the inn, comes across at first as a thoroughly unlikeable woman – but only for a small bit. The reader begins to know her better and understand her and her strengths… and weaknesses. Is her younger son as wonderful as he seems? Or is he a complete cad? And why does he want Jane to pass the ownership of the failing Bell Inn over to him so badly?
It’s an interesting ride to see how these people deal with a bank threatening to foreclose on the inn, money and items mysteriously disappearing, and mistakes from the past that come back to haunt.
**I was sent this copy from Bethany House in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.**