Monday, December 7, 2020

Book Review: Aunt Ivy's Cottage

By Sara Steven

Clearing out the attic, Zoey opens the carved trunk and smiles as she picks up the small, leather-bound diary hiding inside. Curious, she leafs through the pages, and realises this will change everything…

All Zoey’s happiest childhood memories are of her great-aunt Ivy’s rickety cottage on Dune Island, snuggling up with hot chocolate and hearing Ivy’s stories about being married to a sea captain. Now, heartbroken from a breakup, Zoey escapes back to the island, but is shocked to find her elderly aunt’s spark fading. Worse, her cousin—next in line to inherit the house—is pushing Ivy to move into a nursing home.

With the family clashing over what’s best for Ivy, Zoey is surprised when Nick, a local carpenter and Ivy’s neighbor, takes her side. As Zoey finds comfort in his sea-blue eyes and warm laugh, the two grow close. Together, they make a discovery in the attic that links the family to the mysterious and reclusive local lighthouse keeper…

Now Zoey has a heartbreaking choice to make. Nick’s urging her to share the discovery, which could keep Ivy in the house she’s loved her whole life… but when Zoey learns that Nick and her cousin go way back, she questions if the man she‘s starting to have feelings for really has Ivy’s best interests at heart. Will dredging up this old secret destroy the peace and happiness of Ivy’s final years—and tear this family apart for good?

A stunning and emotional read about old secrets, new love and never forgetting the importance of family. Perfect for fans of Mary Ellen Taylor, Robyn Carr and Mary Alice Monroe.
(Courtesy of Bookouture.)

All isn’t what it seemed with Aunt Ivy’s Cottage. At first, we discover the bonds of family and how strong it is for Zoey, when it comes to her aunt Ivy. She works hard to be an advocate for her aunt, particularly against the greed that presents itself with her cousin, Mark. And when Zoey’s teenage niece needs a change of pace and scenery, Zoey welcomes her with open arms, despite past tragedies and hurts that are there for both characters. I figured this would be a transformative story about a woman who works to better her life, help her family, and potentially fall in love with the hunky carpenter in town, and all of that is true, for the most part. Yet, along the way we’re introduced to a scandalous family secret that could make or break nearly everyone involved.

It crept in gradually, which I really appreciated. I never felt like a bomb was dropped on me, yet it’s apparent that Zoey becomes haunted by what she’s discovered about the lighthouse keeper in town, and the connection that he might have to her family. It could be a total game changer, and I felt like I was sitting right next to Zoey as she sifts through old family secrets kept buried away in aunt Ivy’s home. Then there are moments of real uncertainty on who she can trust, at times questioning her cousin’s motives, and even the carpenter’s. Which only added to the suspense in trying to figure out the mystery, too. 

And speaking of Zoey’s cousin, Mark; he was so obnoxious! Kristin Harper created characters who are errantly flawed in only the best of ways. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it was so hard to do. Even Zoey, who I really liked, showed her character flaws where being assertive and standing up against Mark are concerned. I wanted to step in for her and tell her what to say or how to handle various situations. In fact, I think I might have yelled a few times out loud about it! It definitely felt like an interactive experience in that regard.

Eventually, we discover what’s really been going on in Dune Island, and it was well worth the wait. While I did feel the ending was a bit rushed and then buttoned up, it was still an enjoyable experience, and the way it ends and the outcome made perfect sense for the characters and for the reader.

Thanks to Bookouture for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase links:

Ever since she was a young girl, there were few things Kristin Harper liked more than creative writing and spending time on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with her family. Eventually (after a succession of jobs that bored her to tears), she found a way to combine those two passions by becoming a women’s fiction author whose stories occur in oceanside settings. While Kristin doesn’t live on the Cape year-round, she escapes to the beach whenever she can.

Visit Kristin at her website and on Twitter.

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