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Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

Warm Up Your Winter With ‘Aunt Ivy’s Cottage’

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Aunt Ivy’s Cottage (BookoutureDecember, 2020)

By Kristin Harper

Romance/Woman’s Fiction

Romance and mystery collide in this cozy ‘beach novel’ about loss, love, second chances, and family secrets.

Thirty eight year-old Zoey Winslow arrives at her aunts’ home on Dune Island at a loss. Several losses, in fact. First her parents divorced. Then they both died.  Then she lost her beloved sister Jess to cancer.

Nearly bankrupted by bad investments made by her ex-boyfriend, a “financial planner,” Zoey’s also recently lost her job as a librarian. She comes to Dune Island and Hope Haven to care for her ailing Aunt Sylvia and Sylvia’s dearest friend, Zoey’s elderly Aunt Ivy.


But Aunt Sylvia’s cryptic deathbed message to Zoey about her cousin Mark leaves Zoey wondering. As the only surviving “blood relative” of the Winslow family, Mark is set to inherit Aunt Ivy’s magnificent house when she passes away, as stipulated by her father’s iron clad will. Eager to renovate the house (on Aunt Sylvia’s dime) and lease it out to cover his mounting debts, Mark is maneuvering to get Aunt Sylvia out of the picture and into an assisted living facility, pronto. But something doesn’t smell right to Zoey.

Is He or Isn’t He?

Is Mark’s claim to the house – or “Winslow” – legitimate, or something else? And what about the enigmatic retired lighthouse keeper, Mr. Witherell? What did he witness all those years ago that so effected Aunt Sylvia? Why did she refuse his letters? How come Aunt Ivy chased him away? And what about the handsome carpenter/contractor Aunt Ivy hired to renovate her kitchen? Zoey has sworn off men for at least six months after her last creep of a boyfriend. But there’s something about Nick…


Meanwhile, Zoey has a choice to make when she discovers a sixty-plus year old family secret: Does she spill the beans and nix Mark’s plans to lease out her aunt’s house to strangers, at the risk of losing not only her beloved aunt’s house but her aunts’ legacy of love, too? Or does she keep quiet and let the chips falls where they may? How far will Zoey go to honor her aunt’s wishes? How hard will she fight to do what’s in her family’s best interest? And just what, exactly, is that interest?

Tracking & Timelines

There’s a lot to keep track of in this novel. The timeline spans several decades and goes back and forth between past and present. Ditto the family tree and who’s related to whom. There’s an “aunt” who’s not really an aunt. Multiple “Marcuses.” A cousin “Mark” who makes conniving and manipulating his favorite indoor sport. Also Ivy’s sister, Jess.  Jess’s alcoholic husband, Scott. Their taciturn daughter, Gabi. Scott’s second wife, Kathleen. And cribbage. Apparently you can learn a lot about couples by watching them play cribbage. Who knew?

Sometimes, these things have a way of working out for best for everyone.

Bottom Line

A gentle, uplifting romance/mystery full of hope, memory, and the sounds of the sea, Aunt Ivy’s Cottage is a clean, cozy read sure to warm your winter – or any season.

Our Rating: 3.5


Author Kristin Harper.

About the author

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:


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Beach photo credit: Maria Naas

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