Review: Aunt Ivy’s Cottage (Book #2: Dune Island Series) by Kristin Harper

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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?

Source: NetGalley and Bookouture Rating: 3/5 stars

The Bottom Line: Aunt Ivy’s Cottage is an emotional roller coaster of a ride that traces the love, lives, loyalties, and betrayals of a family as one generation is coming to an end.  Aunt Ivy has spent her life in her home on Dune Island and until recently, she was quite happy to be there.  With the death of her beloved friend/sister-in-law, Aunt Ivy now faces her final years alone, rattling around in a home that now seems way too big and full of memories and shadows. 

With nothing but her aunt’s best interests at heart, Zoey has returned to Dune Island to care for her aunt.  Not realizing the mess she has stumbled into, Zoey finds herself fighting her cousin for her aunt’s health and happiness, caring for her somewhat troubled niece, and fighting her feelings for the local contractor.  As Zoey tries to navigate the complexities of her own life, she also unravels the complexities of her Aunt Ivy’s life.  Zoey uncovers lies and secrets, love and loyalties that have stood the test of time. 

While I generally like the story, I didn’t care for two of the main characters.  I know Zoey’s heart is in right place, however, she comes across as seriously naïve and more than a bit whiny and her cousin is scheming rat bastard with nothing but his own self-interest in mind.  I found it difficult to feel much of anything for these two as they vied for control of Aunt Ivy and her possessions.  The only real character I had any great affection or feeling for was Aunt Ivy.  Ivy brought humor, compassion, and love to the story and made it likeable. 

I found, throughout the book, lots of places were the story slowed to a snail’s pace, lots of Zoey’s whining was repetitive, and the ending was less than satisfyingly.  The last chapters of the book definitely picked up the pace, but the ending fell flat.  In the end, I’m on the fence with this read; I disliked some primary characters, but I did like the actual story and the addition of the past crashing into the present.

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