This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Historical Romance, Inspirational Romance
Published by Bethany House
Released on December 4, 2018
The third and final installment in the Tales From Ivy Hill bring things to a head for Mercy, Jane, and other residents of Ivy Hill Village. I’ve been with this story since the beginning and was eager to see how things wrapped up for several favorite characters. So much was going on that it got off to a sluggish start, but by the end I was flipping pages quickly to a satisfying end.
The Bride of Ivy Green is the conclusion of a gently-paced ongoing saga that stretched out over three books so it does not make a good place to jump in. I’m pretty sure new readers would be dreadfully lost because a continuing reader like myself struggled at times to remember who was was who and where things were left off with certain plot threads.
The focus of the book was on three ladies with a few other side plots as well. Mercy Grove seems to have hit rock bottom, but then a few surprising twists bring interesting prospects for her with a new chance at love and her dreams of teaching. Jane Bell can’t let fear and bitterness rule and has to take the gamble of her life while dealing with a bitter past once and for all. A newcomer makes the biggest gamble of all when she sets up a dressmaking shop in the village and fends off questions about her past while desperate to make a go at a new life.
This was a bulky story. It had a big job to do wrapping up not one, but a handful of story threads. And, if that wasn’t enough, the author introduced a few new ones for good measure. I’m conflicted about this. I loved those new threads- the surprise from Jane’s past and the new mysterious dressmaker and her past ties to Ivy Hill life. The side romance for the losing rival to Rachel’s affections from the last book and James Drake’s family. That said, I wish there had been a fourth book. There was so much going on in this one that its pace was ponderous at times and all the viewpoint shifts leaving off one thread to pick up another could get distracting. A few spots felt under-developed as a result. Nothing about the book fell into dislike for me whether characters or their stories.
I don’t wish to give the impression that I didn’t enjoy this book. I did and was deeply vested in the outcome for all my favorite Ivy Hill residents and the new ones. I confess that I’ve been impatient with Jane over Gabriel for some time so I was glad circumstances pushed her along and got her off the fence in spite of her fear. I found the confrontation Jane finally had to have with her past was an interesting and realistic layer to add to her life. Mercy’s situation was rather complicated and I felt so badly for her. She gives up her school and refuses probably her last big opportunity to marry well in her parents’ eyes because she couldn’t countenance a marriage of convenience. She is choosing the life of a poor, spinster sister living in her brother’s home and at the mercy of his social-climbing, avaricious wife who makes it difficult for Mercy and Aunt Matty so they are not welcome in their own home (ala Fanny Dashwood of Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility). She wants to marry for love, but the man she is interested in has given her no sign and seems to put her on a pedestal out of his own reach because she is scholarly and he works with his hands. I happily appreciated seeing couples I was rooting for find their way to happiness.
But, this wasn’t just a good historical romance. This book also addresses historical stigmas about illegitimacy, class differences, and views on mixed marriages which I enjoyed seeing teased out in thought-provoking ways. Then, there is the religious themes running through the book of God’s goodness through times of trial, people who made mistakes and seek forgiveness, and people overcoming their pasts and changing for the better.
All in all, it was a satisfying- if bulky- wrap up to a great series. I can see where there is room left for more at a future date while still bringing all major storylines to a fabulous finish. I am sad to be leaving Ivy Hill for the last time and loved how the author made me fall in love with the setting and people there. Fans of sweet historical romance and inspirational romances should definitely give this series a try.
I rec’d this book from Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.
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