STORY: 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?
REVIEW: Ivy Hill, Wiltshire England – 1820
Jane Fairmont Bell has been widowed for a year. She is the owner of The Bell Inn, a coaching inn. Her late husband, John, had owned and run the inn and had been only 31 when he died.
Jane’s mother-in-law, Thora Stonehouse Bell, is returning to the Bell after staying with her sister for the better part of a year. The Bell, formerly called The Angel, had been in her family for a long time, but now it has been left to Jane. At the age of 51, Thora cannot get used to being idle. Therefore, she hopes to be a part of running the Inn.
Thora and Jane have not been close. Jane was raised in a wealthy family and socially, it was a step-down for Jane to marry an Innkeeper. During her marriage to John, Jane has spent most of her time in the keeper’s lodge and not being involved in the running of the Inn. But now, there are financial problems and Jane is forcing herself to step forward and take on her responsibilities.
Jane finds that there is a bank loan coming due and is trying to get an extension on the loan. The condescending banker treats her with disdain encouraging her to sell the Inn. But Jane is determined to do all she can to learn the trade and find ways to improve things.
Readers meet the different employees of the Inn and friends in the surrounding area. There are a lot of descriptions about the jobs and how they are carried out. Jane cannot help but feel intimidated by Thora and works hard to show her that she is capable of running the Inn and making it profitable again. She meets with many problems along the way. Can she make a success of the Inn?
The plot here is good but I found the storyline to be flat. There aren’t the ups and downs of a story that makes the reader keep turning the pages. I am a huge fan of the author and have read many of her books. I was really looking forward to reading this novel but it just is not one of my favorites.
Complimentary copy provided by the publisher
Connie for b2b