The Ladies of Ivy Cottage By Julie Klassen

I was well into this book before I realized it was a continuation of the previous one, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. To me this shows it can absolutely be read as a standalone! I had trouble getting into the story, it was a slow start, but I am so glad I continued! It was a rewarding read!
There are a lot of characters but Ms. Klassen did a stellar job of making it easy to keep them straight by her detailed personalization of their individual emotions, thoughts, and characteristics. She flawlessly wove in and out of each one’s experiences giving the story depth.
The 1800’s was not an easy time for a single woman, especially in providing for themselves. The book shares the lives of three such women. Jane is a widow who has the blessing of being proprietor deceased husband’s family. Rachel is alone due to the death of her father, but lost her inheritance and her only source of income. Mercy has given up finding love and resigned herself to spinsterhood. While each lady faces difficult challenges they have the strong support of one another. Romance blooms for each, but not without difficulty and heartache.
Even though Jane had a source of income, handling the stress and responsibility alone was challenging to say the least. It was no walk in the park! Though she was cheerful and caring, she carried a heavy load of grief in the loss of many children by miscarriage.
Of the three, Rachel had the least and solely relied on the kindness of her friends. Her story saddened me. She had lived in wealth and comfort before she lost her father. I feel her situation was the hardest to go from having everything to being homeless and penniless. I admired her spunk and determination to provide for herself and earn a living with what meager means there were.
Mercy, poor homely Mercy. She had such a sweet and loving spirit. Though her outside was plain her inside was beautiful. She ran a girl’s school and lived with her Aunt Matilda. I loved Aunt Matilda, she was such a hoot. Not only did she make me laugh but I enjoyed the spirit in which she shared her wisdom with the girls. Mercy was so dedicated to her students. Her home actually belonged to her brother who was living overseas. After he marries her meddling (and irritating) parents give her an ultimatum to marry a suitor they have introduced her to or lose everything. Her situation reminded me of how few choices women, especially from wealthy families, had during this time. Mercy wants to marry for love. But with her looks her parents feel she will be lucky if ANYONE will have her.
Each of the characters were inspiring in their faith, growth, and in spiritual lessons
Their lives taught. A wonderful read!
I received this book from Bethany House Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

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A Borrowed Dream By Amanda Cabot

Catherine Whitfield is a school teacher in the Texas town of Cimarron City, in the late 1800’s. She cared deeply for all her students and was concerned about their welfare as well as their education. A new student, Hannah Goddard comes to school with her strikingly handsome widowed father. They had recently purchased a ranch and moved from Pennsylvania. His daughter is very unhappy and struggling to adjust. Unbeknownst to the town, he is not a rancher, but a doctor, attempting to hide and protect his daughter from a criminal. Catherine having just lost her mother due to the local doctor’s primitive medical treatment, has more on her mind that the attractive new man. Hilariously he is all the mothers in town with single daughters of a marriageable can think of. Although I laughed, I felt sorry for poor Austin trying to politely dodge all of them.
I found the story very entertaining and suspenseful but there were also some surprising parts. The first being Austin wasn’t just any doctor but a plastic surgeon! I didn’t even know there were any back then! My first thoughts were, “There weren’t face lifts, breast plants or liposuction, and so what did they do?” After some research I found they did reconstructive surgery on severe injuries. Many of their patients were soldiers injured in battle. Conniving and hardened criminals were just as much present then as now. Just such a one was in pursuit of Austin to force him to use his skills evil plans.
I naively have pictured the era that this was written in as far simpler than our society today. It surprised me that the same problems and corruptions existed in this era too! One of Catherine’s students’ is severely abused and neglected by his father. A young girl is raped and becomes pregnant. There were no government agencies or special law enforcements to help the victims or bring their perpetrators to justice. The care and protection of the innocent came from loving, kindhearted and caring people. It was a reminder that individuals were much more personally involved in the lives of their neighbors, especially in times of need. Ms. Cabot beautifully illustrates true forgiveness and godly character in the face of horrible circumstances and offenses. A wonderful book!
I received this book from Revell Publications in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

1, 2, 3 GOD MADE ME By Pamela Kennedy

When I am reviewing a children’s book I always like to read it to one of my grandchildren if I can and to get their reaction. The closest one to this age is my 2 week old grandson! While know there would not be much of a response, I look forward to reading it to him many times as he grows older.
One thing that impressed me about this board book is that the cover is bound like a regular book. Talk about sturdy! The brightness of the illustrations and pages are dynamic. Sure to keep a small child’s attention.
Each page is written in rhyme. This is not only entertaining but also helps a youngster remember what was read. I see this book growing right along as little ones delight in learning to count, pointing to the pictures as the do. I especially like that while they enjoy all these wonderful things about the book, they are also being introduced to God and how he created us. Paraphrased scriptures appear at the bottom of some pages, yet another plus. A book worth getting for those special little folks in your life!
I received this book from B & H Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.