EXCERPT: She had told her great-aunts she’d been laid off from her job as librarian when the city closed the branch where she worked, but how had Sylvia found out that she’d lost her savings and was on the brink of losing her townhome? Zoey hadn’t wanted to burden her aunts by telling them that the guy she’d been seeing for the past year, a financial planner, had risked – and blown – all of her savings in a series of investments that turned out to be just shy of illegal. And she was too ashamed to admit she hadn’t even realised what he’d done until she tried to withdraw money from her depleted retirement funds to pay her mortgage.
ABOUT ‘AUNT IVY’S COTTAGE’: All Zoey’s happiest childhood memories are of her great-aunt Ivy’s rickety cottage on Dune Island, being spoiled with cranberry ice cream and watching the tides change from the rooftop. Now, heartbroken from a recent breakup, Zoey can see her elderly aunt’s spark is fading, and decides to move to the island so they can care for each other.
When she arrives to find her cousin, Mark, sitting at the solid oak kitchen table, she knows why Aunt Ivy hasn’t been herself. Because Mark—next in line to inherit the house—is pushing Ivy to move into a nursing home.
With the cousins clashing over what’s best for Ivy, Zoey is surprised when the local carpenter who’s working on Ivy’s cottage takes her side. As he offers Zoey comfort, the two grow close. Together, they make a discovery in the attic that links the family to the mysterious and reclusive local lighthouse keeper, and throws doubt on Mark’s claim…
Now Zoey has a heartbreaking choice to make. The discovery could keep Ivy in the house she’s loved her whole life… but can Zoey trust that the carpenter really has Ivy’s best interests at heart? And will dredging up an old secret destroy the peace and happiness of Ivy’s final years—and tear this family apart for good?
MY THOUGHTS: I was looking forward to ‘a stunning and emotional read about old secrets, new love and never forgetting the importance of family.’ I didn’t get it.
In spite of the absolutely gorgeous cover, the contents of this book are mediocre in comparison. There were several things that I actively did not like about this book. The first is that the description of the contents bears little resemblance to what actually happens. It is misleading, especially the lead in to the blurb, ‘Up in the attic, with views across the sparkling bay, she opens the lid of the carved trunk. Carefully moving aside the delicate linen wedding dress once worn by her great-aunt, she unpacks all the smaller boxes inside until she finds the leather-bound diary. She knows this will change everything…’ This is wrong! This is not what happens!
The characters are mostly inconsistent. I loved Aunt Ivy and Gabi, they were the highlight of the book for me. Zoey is emotionally labile, or mercurial, Nick not much better. Mark is the biggest disappointment of all. He suddenly changes character at the end, which could have provided some real fireworks but instead fizzled out. I found the dialogue patchy, sometimes well done, but mostly stilted and unnatural.
The premise is good, and could have been made much more of. The ‘mystery’ is almost nonexistent. A little more continuity throughout the book focusing on the mystery itself instead of Zoey’s emotional highs and lows would have greatly improved it. The ending felt rushed and, as I previously mentioned, fizzled out.
A barely average read. ⭐⭐.5
THE AUTHOR: Ever since she was a young girl, there were few things Kristin 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. (Bookouture)
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by Kristin Harper for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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