An Ivy Hill Christmas
by Julie Klassen
I’m on a Christmas story binge, and this one happens to be our Online Historical Romance Book Club selection for December. Fans of Pride and Prejudice and Emma will find parallels to those beloved stories. Some scenes and lines felt like they were taken straight from those Jane Austen novels and placed into this story at just the right moments. It was a story of transformation but light on the romance. There were several scenes that were definitely on the *sigh, that was so sweet* moments, but I was left wishing more time had been spent on the romance.
This was not my favorite of Julie Klassen’s books, but I think I might have enjoyed it a bit more if I had read the other book(s) connected to Ivy Hill. There were lots of connections I felt sure had more meaning and left me wondering who they were. So if you dive into this book, I highly recommend reading the others first. If you do, let me know what I missed out on.
I would recommend this story to fans of Jane Austen, reformed rakes, and messy families.
Genre: Historical Romance, England, 1822
Richard Brockwell, the younger son of Ivy Hill’s most prominent family, hasn’t been home for Christmas in years. He prefers to live in the London townhouse, far away from Brockwell Court, the old family secret that haunts him, and the shadows of his past mistakes. But then his mother threatens to stop funding his carefree life–unless he comes home for Christmas. Out of options, he sets out for Ivy Hill, planning to be back on a coach bound for London and his unencumbered bachelor life as soon as the festivities are over.
But Christmas in the country presents unforeseen surprises, including encounters with an orphaned apprentice, the first love he disappointed years ago, and Arabella Awdry, a young lady who is far more appealing than he recalled . . . and determined to have nothing to do with him.
Will Christmastime in Ivy Hill, with its village charm, kissing boughs, joyous songs, and divine hope, work its magic in his heart . . . and hers as well?
What I loved: I loved all the nods to Pride and Prejudice, and watching Richard’s relationship with others change.
Favorite Character and Why: It’s a tie between Wally and Jamie Fletcher. I love how Richard dressed the dog to look like him, and Jamie was just a sweet kid.
Rating and Why: Three Stars. I struggled with the writing style this time, and I just couldn’t sink into the characters. I enjoyed the story, but there were chunks of details I skimmed over.
Amazon.com Baker Bookhouse Barnes and Noble Book Depository Christianbook.com
April 2018 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.
Pelican Point by Irene Hannon — After inheriting a crumbling lighthouse, ex-Army doctor Ben Garrison wants to sell it. But Hope Harbor Herald editor Marci Weber is determined to save the town landmark. Can these two romance-wary souls finds a meeting of the minds…and hearts? (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)
An Amish Heirloom by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, Kelly Irvin, and Beth Wiseman — From bestselling Amish authors come four novellas about the meaning and tradition found behind every family heirloom. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
This Wilderness Journey by Misty Beller — He’s been sent to retrieve the new missionary… But she’s not at all who he expects to find. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy — Deborah and her sister and two little children survive a wagon train massacre. Trace finds them and takes them home. He finds himself their accidental guardian. He must protect them all and gain justice. When he does, all these friendly visitors–especially Deborah–will leave him forever. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])
First Love Forever Romance Collection by Susanne Dietze, Marcia Gruver, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancette Pagels, Martha Rogers, Lorna Seilstad, Connie Stevens, Erica Vetsch, and Jennifer Uhlarik — Coming face to face with a lost love can be awkward when the heartstrings are still holding on to the “what ifs.” In settings from 1865 to 1910, nine couples are thrown back on the same path by life’s changes and challenges. Can love rekindle despite the separation of time and space? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
All Things Beautiful by Keely Brooke Keith — It’s 1868 in the settlement of Good Springs, and Hannah Vestal is passionate about writing fiction and keeping her stories to herself. When her father asks to read her work, she decides to have it printed secretly for his 50th birthday. Hannah tries to arrange the printing with the settlement’s pressman, but the witty and dapper Henry Roberts has better things to do with his ink. In order to secure settlement support for his printing press, the elder council says Henry must print an error-free copy of the New Testament before the settlement’s 8th anniversary celebration. He is determined to meet their challenge, but when the enigmatic Hannah proves to be a beguiling distraction, Henry longs for something more than a life at the letterpress. (Historical Romance from Edenbrooke Press)
Adoration by Olivia Rae — Sir Darrin de Longue is desperate to get his lands back from Lady Faith de Sainte-Marie, the woman who betrayed him and may have had a hand in his father’s murder. But King Richard discloses on his deathbed that Lady Faith is the king’s daughter and then issues an ultimatum Darrin must obey. In order to reclaim his lands, he must marry Lady Faith and get her with child in a year’s time. Lady Faith has loved the rowdy and bold Sir Darrin since childhood, but cannot be a true wife to the bitter, angry man whom she has wed. In order to gain his trust and love, she vows to find the truth about his father’s murder. But when she stumbles upon deadly secrets, will she be able to prove her innocence–and his–to erase the past and win Darrin’s heart? (Historical Romance from HopeKnight Press)
Under Prairie Skies by Cynthia Roemer — Illinois prairie, 1855. Unsettled by the news that her estranged cousin and uncle are returning home after a year away, Charlotte Stanton goes to ready their cabin and finds a handsome stranger has taken up residence. Convinced he’s a squatter, she throws him off the property before learning his full identity. Little does she know, their paths are destined to cross again. Quiet and ruggedly handsome, Chad Avery’s uncanny ability to see through Charlotte’s feisty exterior and expose her inner weaknesses both infuriates and intrigues her. When a tragic accident incites her family to move east, Charlotte stays behind in hopes of becoming better acquainted with the elusive cattleman. Yet Chad’s unwillingness to divulge his hidden past, along with his vow not to love again, threatens to keep them apart forever. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo — The last time New Orleans attorney Jean-Luc Valmont saw Maribel Cordoba, a Spanish nobleman’s daughter, she was an eleven-year-old orphan perched in the riggings of his privateering vessel proving herself as the best lookout on his crew. Until the day his infamy caught up with them all and innocent lives were lost. Unsure why he survived but vowing to make something of the chance he was given, Jean-Luc has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it—until a very much alive and very grown up Maribel Cordoba arrives on his doorstep and threatens all he now holds dear. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels — Crisis pregnancy worker Marissa Moreau suspects her husband is cheating, but little does she know how close to home her husband’s infidelity hits. College student Kaitlyn Farrows is floundering after a relationship with her professor leaves her pregnant. Soon she lands a job and a support system at the local pregnancy resource center and things seem to be turning around. But when Marissa and Kaitlyn become friends, neither one knows they share a connection—Colin, Marissa’s husband and Kaitlyn’s former professor. When their private lives collide, the two women must face the ultimate test of their faith and choose how to move forward as they live in the shadows of hope. (General Contemporary from Barbour Publishing)
Secret Past by Sharee Stover — With gunmen at her doorstep, Katie Tribani learns her true identity. She’s been in witness protection since childhood, and now her crime-lord father has found her. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Chase by Glenn Haggerty — Tyler, a middle school newbie, shadows drug runners to rat out the methamphetamine dealer before his friend turns into a brain-dead druggie. (Young Adult, Independently Published)
The Widow’s Captive by Lucette Nel
Alright, so this is a “Christmas” novella and I am reviewing it in March. Despite the fact I think Christmas should be celebrated year-round, this book is not so wholly centered around Christmas as to be a Christmas season only read.
The Widow’s Captive is the story of a mother doing anything to survive being pursued by a dangerous man while being mere weeks away from childbirth and caring for her other two children. Help comes at the unlikeliest of times, during a blizzard, from a sheriff bearing gifts for the town drunkard.
This novella is a quick read with a focus on romance and an element of danger. Readers who enjoy stories with children, humor, and innocent love will enjoy this novella. The sheriff does get some time being a traditional hero, but most of the time he is a hero through the sweet acts of kindness and protection of this vulnerable family.
I recommend this story no matter the time of year. The warm cozy feeling you feel as you read it never goes out of season.
Purchase your own copy at:
“On the run with two small children and a third due within weeks, Adeline Spencer fears the approaching blizzard will seal their fate. An abandoned cabin is an answer to her prayers. She hopes it will shield them from both the storm and the enraged brother-in-law hot on her tail. But when a stranger knocks at the door, she is convinced they have been found by one of Ward’s lackeys.Blamed for the death of his friend, Sheriff Jonah Hale is determined to prove himself worthy of his badge, even if it means riding into a blizzard to check on a crazy miner. When Jonah reaches the cabin, he’s caught off guard by a pretty and very pregnant young woman wielding a skillet. Bound to a chair while the storm rages, and as Christmas settles in around them, he must find a way to earn Adeline’s trust…and perhaps her heart.”
– Blurb from Amazon