Beyond Ivy Walls

A Novel

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Pub Date Aug 13 2024 | Archive Date Sep 13 2024

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Reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast, a recluse and a young woman discover that the scars of life are no match against an act of love.

Iowa, 1903. All of Monticello believes Otis Taylor has been away fostering his musical genius. But the truth is that his father exiled him long ago, rejecting Otis's appearance and the scars that came with it. Now that he is the last living Taylor, Otis has covertly returned to settle his family's affairs and rid himself of his past for good. However, he soon discovers that he may not have been the only discarded Taylor and begins a tireless search for his missing niece.

At twenty-three years old, Sadie West left her family farm and found employment at the Hoag feather duster factory. It isn't a romantic job, but she's hardly had a glimmer of romance since her beau went off to college, leaving her with no promise of a future together. Desperate to save money and help her family make ends meet, she trespasses and finds shelter in an abandoned building--and is thrown in the path of the town's mysterious bachelor.

Otis's wounds are deep, but as Sadie's friendship with him grows, she begins to fall for the man beneath the mask. The mystery of his long-lost niece, however, is more complex than either could have imagined, and Sadie may be the key to Otis Taylor finally finding his way home.

Reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast, a recluse and a young woman discover that the scars of life are no match against an act of love.

Iowa, 1903. All of Monticello believes Otis Taylor has been away...

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ISBN 9780840718808
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Featured Reviews

BEYOND IVY WALLS by RACHEL FORDHAM is a most enjoyable and thought provoking novel. Set in Monticello, Iowa in 1903, the author tells the story of the mysterious Otis Tayler and his return to the family mansion in Monticello,mand Sadie West , who works at the Hoag feather duster factory and is living in squalor in the Taylor’s abandoned factory in order to save her family’s farm and care for her ailing father, brought together by a dog called Blue-Wolf. I like to see their growing friendship and the way they call each other Edward Rochester and Jane. Other interesting characters are Mildred and Leon, the caretakers of the Taylor property and Otis’ loyal friends.
Otis was thrown out as a child by his father because of a physical defect, and we see the results of his family’s abandonment in this scarred, angry, reclusive man, who does not know how to handle himself around people. He is particularly angry about his brother’s child Elizabeth, who was born out of wedlock and is determined to find her and bring her up as his own. He is sensitive of his hideous scars and is surprised at Sadie who, after her first gasp of shock, accepts him as he is.
Sadie is lonely and smells bad due to her job with stinking turkey feathers and lack of washing facilities but puts up with her fellow workers’ taunts in order to help her family.
When Sadie promises to help Otis find his niece their relationship becomes strained…….
I cannot recommend this beautifuly written book highly enough.
I was given a free copy of the book by NetGalley from Thomas Nelson. The opinions in this review are completely my own.

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As someone who has been incredibly frustrated by mainstream romance publishing's obession with Regency Romance, I want to give special thanks to Thomas Nelson for embracing other time periods! Beyond Ivy Walls is set just after the turn of the century, and its Beauty and the Beast air had me turning pages all day! I loved it, and would definitely read more by this author!

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This was my favorite book by this author!! The story drew me in from the beginning and I could barely do anything else but read this book! Otis and Sadie were such great characters and were so unique in their own ways. I loved how Leon and Mildred were like grandparents to Otis and Sadie as they go throughout the story. This may be one I reread because I loved it so much!!

Thanks so much to netgalley and the publisher for the arc. The opinions are my own.

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This was a great book. It is a beauty and the beast retelling. This story was so addictive. I could not put is down. The romance was so sweet.

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This book has it all!
There is a young man, burdened by the acts of a selfish parent. A man who has been in isolation for many years, scarred physically and emotionally.
And there is a young woman, a beauty, both inside and out, who is trying hard to help her family, to save the farm, and willing to sacrifice her comfort for them.
A chance meeting, and some wise helpers, assist these two on an adventure of healing, acceptance, and love.
The growth that is experienced, the selflessness shown, the letting go of pain, all this brings together a wonderful story.
This story touched my heart. I am sad to leave it!

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This was absolutely stunning. The plot was well-paced and captivating from start to finish. The characters were well-developed; complex, and intriguing. I highly recommend this beautiful telling of the power of love. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book.

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A wonderful story that I was unable to put down. It is a huge reminder of God's grace and courage in facing life's challenges. Such depth and delightful characters that shows new meaning of family and community.

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Beyond Ivy Walls
Rachel Fordham
This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. The setting is the early 1900s. Sadie’s family was destitute; she had no choice but to leave her beloved home to work in the Hoag duster factory. There is no money for a place for her to stay because she sends all her money home to her family. She is forced to take shelter in an abandoned building.
Otis Taylor is back but determined to keep it a secret. He finds Sadie hiding in a building belonging to his family. He rashly decides to hire her but makes her promise not to tell anyone. The home he grew up in brings back memories deep dark memories where he wants them to stay. Sadie becomes his salvation, the bright light in his dark existence.
This is a squeaky-clean romance. The characters are captivating. The relationship between Sadie and Otis was charming. This is a Christian novel, but it is not preachy.
Thank you NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book for review;

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In 1903 Sadie West had to leave her family farm and go to work at a feather duster factory in a small Iowa town. She was paid a small amount, which covered her rent and paid her fathers' mortgage as he had gotten injured falling from a horse and could not work. Her sisters worked the family farm and tried to bring in the crops to help.

But Sadie lost her home to a higher paying renter, so she searched for new lodgings and found an abandoned building next to a mansion. Sadie had heard about a rich musician named Otis Taylor who was coming back to Monticello to settle his affairs.

Sadie had taken a dip in the creek near the house and she was chased home by a big dog with a fancy collar who followed her into the building and slept with her.

A few nights later Otis Taylor, who owned the mansion went looking for his dog Wolf and found Sadie!

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This was a delightfully enjoyable story. I love Fordham's easy to read style, and she always has some of the sweetest characters.

Otis definitely had some beast from Beauty and the Beast vibes which is a slightly overused trope, but thankfully it was well done and didn't take away from the story. He was generally a really likeable character. And really had a soft heart which I loved. I also felt genuine sympathy for his past.

I loved Sadie and her bond that she had with her sisters. The West sisters definitely gave me some Little Women vibes, which was so fun and well done. The parents were also great.

The plot and mystery kept me intrigued and turning pages while not causing stress.

There weren't really any Christian themes, but it was a heartwarming, sweet, and clean historical read.

* I received this book free from the publisher/author. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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I really enjoyed reading this book and had a hard time putting it down. I especially loved how the author shares her love for adoption in this book and doing the best for the child even when it hurts.
Thank you NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book for review

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So this book is another look at the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, but Rachel Fordham has done a masterful job in bringing all the bits and pieces of the tale to life. She put the characters in the early 1900s, so while it is historical, it is also a bit more modern.

Sadie West has been working at the feather duster factory in Monticello, Iowa, when she is turned out of her boarding house for someone who will pay more. She finds an abandoned factory to shelter in, and bathes in a freezing cold creek, but it is the only water available to her. She is found out and then given a position at the Taylor mansion to help clean it up and get it ready to sell. This is in addition to her job at the duster factory. She is sending money home to pay for her father's doctor bills after he had an accident on the farm. She is also paying the mortgage on the farm so that her family doesn't lose their home.

Otis Taylor is the only remaining Taylor alive and comes back to Monticello to settle his brother's estate. He'd been sent away because he was scarred and disfigured and his father didn't want to look at him. Otis has quite a chip on his shoulder for the way his family treated him, but he eventually finds that his chip is too heavy to carry.

Alta is one of the lesser characters but she plays an important part in the movement of the plot. She so wants to be the one that Otis courts when he returns to town. She's a little bit of a gold digger and a bit entitled, and plays the parts well. When she finds that Sadie has been working for Otis for a while, she throws a temper tantrum worthy of a two year old.

Beyond Ivy Walls has everything a reader could desire--a little bit of romance, a little bit of mystery, hard decisions, and a coming to terms with circumstances. I love the Beauty and the Beast type stories I've read and other than one written by Robin McKinley, this is the best one I've read. Robin's is an extremely well-done rendition of the tale, while Rachel's is a more modern retelling. It is still a five star book with two thumbs up and a beast who cares about family troubles.

Thomas Nelson Fiction provided the copy I read for this review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

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“You are so much more than your scars and what happened within these walls. You have heart.”

This sweet story, set in 1903, features Sadie West, 23, who has been forced to leave her family farm in rural Iowa and seek employment at the Hoag Feather Duster Co., a factory in Monticello. Her father’s riding accident left him bedridden and Sadie has to work to support her parents and younger siblings.

After a few unplanned disappointments, she’s discovered by Otis Taylor, Monticello’s musical genius and eligible bachelor. Otis and Sadie overcome insurmountable odds because they each realize that they are different and gather inner strength to work through their insecurities together, hoping to love and be loved in return.

Fordham asks readers to consider our definition of ‘normal’ and how we care for one another - are we looking beyond the surface and at each other’s hearts? She reminds us that we are all unique and all have moments when we are not as we appear. We shouldn’t let what people say limit us as to what we’re capable of doing. We are all our own definitions of normal.

Although this Beauty and the Beast inspired novel is about love’s transformative power, it’s also about:

✔️Sacrificial love
✔️Freedom; from physical captivity/exile (manor) and social expectations
✔️Dangers of judging on appearances
✔️Warning about the value of character over appearance
✔️Pain we cause when we are quick to judge
✔️Desire to be a complete and true version of ourselves
✔️Acceptance and compassion
✔️Supporting each other through adversity; pushing to the edge of fear

“Why can’t it be normal to be varied and different? In a world full of colors and shapes and backgrounds, who decided we were all supposed to be the same?”

It was good to be reminded:

1) to stretch to accept something different about ourselves and others. We should all strive to have eyes like Sadie, eyes that look deep inside and see the best in people.
2) to be the hero of our own story. Dare to think differently and show compassion.
3) We are all scarred and flawed in different ways - different kinds of ‘normal’.

This slow, gently probing story has a BIG impact even days later. Allow it room to impact you.

I was gifted this copy by Thomas Nelson Fiction and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.

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Rachel Fordham is one of those authors that reaches down deep and delves into the heart of an issue exposing all of its flaws. When she is finished the reader feels led to take up that cause. Beyond Ivy Walls was an inspiring, emotional roller coaster. The story opens with the return of Otis Taylor to his ancestral home to settle affairs left after the deaths of his father and brother. We are given glimpses of his life's story, of his exile due to him losing his hair, to scars that he bares, and his musical genius. We also meet Sadie West, a young lady sent to Monticello to work to help pay for her father's medical bills. Sadie is found living in the abandoned factory belonging to Otis Taylor. Though Otis wants to go back into his exile, he offers Sadie a job and a place to live. As I read this story many things came to mind. Mrs. Fordham is a Christian author and you can see that in her writing, but the theme that was most prevalent to me in this book was the theme of bullying. Often times people get bullied by others for the way they look, the things they lack, or just for meanness. If you can't stand up to a bully, tell someone and let them help you. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It is one of those books that you want to read over again.

I would like to thank Netgalley and Thomas Nelson Publishing for allowing me to read an advanced reader copy. The review I gave is entirely my own opinion.

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This is the first book I have read by Rachel Fordham and it will not be my last. Her writing style kept me engaged. I fell in love with Sadie and enjoyed her interaction with Otis. The similarities to Beauty & the Beast made it such an enjoyable read.

Thank you to NetGalley & the publisher for allowing me to read this book.

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"Beyond Ivy Walls" is a sweet romance set in 1903 in Monticello, Iowa. Otis has no hair and has scars on his scalp from his father's attempts to make his hair regrow. Sent away from his family to live in an isolated cottage, he feels deeply rejected by his family. He's convinced his former friends will view him as a beast, a monster to be rejected. He returns after his father and brother died and discovers that his brother had a child out of wedlock. He's determine to find her and give her all of the love and acceptance he lacked. Sadie sees his scars and doesn't reject him. She's hired to help clean up the house and teach him social skills. She helps him find the courage to face the community.

Sadie and Otis became friends as they spent time together. They learned to work through misunderstanding and conflict. The historical details were woven into the story and didn't slow the pacing. Sadie prays for her father's healing and trusts that God will see her family through this hard time. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable romance.

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This was a sweet read by Rachel Fordham! I really enjoyed the relationship between Sadie and her sisters as it reminded me of my own sisters. This book was a twist on Beauty and the Beast and it was neat to see how Sadies and Otis' relationship grew throughout the story as well as their character. They had strong points as well as weak and I feel like Sadie was just the encouragement that Otis needed to heal from his past hurts. Overall it was an enjoyable read and I feel like there was a lot to apply to my own life.

Thank you Rachel Fordham, NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Fiction for allowing me to read this ARC!
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Rachel Fordham delivers a poignant story with "Beyond Ivy Walls". Set in 1903 Iowa, this book chronicles the emotional journey of Otis Taylor, whose alopecia was unsuccessfully "treated" by his cruel father, resulting in further disfigurement. Sadie West sees beyond his physical appearance to the person he really is.

While there is a decided "Beauty and the Beast" theme, this read is not a fairytale. It is not a Disney movie. In a way, this book reminded me of Fordham's first novel, "The Hope of Azure Springs". The heroine Em was unkindly rejected due to her appearance, as is Otis and to a lesser extent, Sadie (due to her living conditions). Human nature being what it is, sadly some people judge others by the figurative book cover, and a few are featured here. Our protagonists conclude there are "different kinds of normal".

The fate of niece Elisabeth provides an interesting and unexpected twist. This heartwarming side plot is thought-provoking. Is family defined solely by blood, or by those who raised you? As an adopted child myself, I'm of the firm belief that blood does not determine family.

I greatly enjoy Rachel Fordham's lovely prose. Her characters are wonderfully rendered. This novel is clean. I've read all of her novels, and they are all incredibly appealing.

Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Fiction for an ARC of this compelling read.

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Beyond Ivy Walls by author Rachel Fordham is a Christian historical romance. It reminded me of an interpretation of Beauty and the Beast. It was a beautiful story.

Set in early 1900s Monticello, Iowa this is the story of Sadie West. Due to a family tragedy, she has left her home and gone to work in a feather duster factory. It is also the story of Otis Taylor. He is returning home to handle the estate after the death of his brother. The way the two meet is so imaginative.

The author has such an inviting style of writing. I became invested in the lives of the characters as well as the book. The characters were crafted with great care. They had depth, issues, and were believable. Some of them were absolutely lovable while others were despicable. The secondary characters were lovely, too. There were a few twists, a sweet romance, and history that provided knowledge on feather dusters.

I highly recommend this exquisite tale. It will give you all kinds of feels. This would make a nice choice for a reading group to dissect. I plan on buying a few copies as gifts. It gets a 5 star rating from this reader. A copy was provided by NetGalley but these are my honest thoughts.

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This story is a wonderful, gentle style historical tale. I enjoyed the characters and the historical setting. I have read many of Rachel Fordham's other stories, and I always appreciate the details she adds on the historical setting.

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Oh, my, what a touching story! A profound story. I loved it and captivated me from the very beginning. Amazing, as always, Ms. Rachel!
I love Otis and Sadie. The author created beautiful characters. Very relatable characters facing fear and struggles, but also success as they overcome their own monsters within.
A story of love for the best of a child triumphing in spite of life long dreams and desires. How true love is sacrificial for the good of others, putting aside our own wants. This story truly touched my heart. I love how the author put it, “a different right way to love a child.”
Perhaps this excerpt will say it better than my own words…
“It would take time to grieve what might have been, but beside the grief was happiness. Somehow, pain and joy were walking side by side. He did not understand it, but he felt it.”

And oh, how much I enjoyed the West family home with all the sisters having fun and standing for each other. It gave me some LW vibes and some of my own family since we’re three sisters, and are the best of friends besides being sisters.

I love all the Jane Eyre references, it had me chuckling more than once…
“I wouldn’t want to be in company with a vagrant, but a man who has read Charlotte Brontë cannot be all bad.” 😀

Leon and Mildred are the best friends anyone could ask for, loved them!

And as always, I love sharing excerpts and quotes that find touching in the story, so here are some…

“Unwanted. It was a label no child, no person, should have.”

“It’s a shame, the way we shun when we should rally around those who struggle.”

“One cannot understand sorrow if one has no heart.”

“…sometimes we only have to go to the edge of our fear… if you could only take a step toward being braver.”

“The world needs both the timid and the bold.”

“What is normal?”
“Why can’t it be normal to be varied and different? In a world full of colors and shapes and backgrounds, who decided we were all supposed to be the same?”

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Fiction through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.*

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When Otis Taylor returns to his family mansion after being banished since a teen, his lonely life and medical condition collide to a depth of hurt and anger. Sadie West comes from a loving family that has fallen on hard times and she is only in his area in order to help provide for her family. I loved how two such lonely souls connect in friendship but are left wanting for more. The community likely won’t be kind to these two, as they are oceans apart in societal status. There is a tender depth of emotion in both characters that comes shining through. I follow the Ms. Fordham pretty closely and can clearly see how her experience with fostering and adoption surfaces with another cute little character. She always puts a little bit of her experiences into her novels. The warmth and compassion of her characters is something that really attracts me to her writing. I have no qualms about highly recommending this newest offering!
Rachel Fordham is an auto buy for me and I have read and thoroughly enjoyed everything she has published. My favorite was The Hope of Azure Springs, but I think this newest release has eclipsed even that. She has a five more books to catch up on, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of her titles.
I received an early e -copy of this book from Net Galley and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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This was beautifully done and I enjoyed the idea of the use of Beauty and Beast element. The characters felt like they were supposed to and enjoyed the overall concept of this book. It had everything that I wanted and enjoyed the overall feel of the book. I really enjoyed the overall feel of the romance element and thought it was realistically done.

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I breezed through this book in just one day. It's far from your typical Beauty and the Beast tale. The banter between Sadie and Otis, or should I say Jane the Squatter and Mr. Rochester (an inside joke; if you want to know more, read the book 😉). I also loved the secondary characters, Leon and Mildred, and the family dynamic between Sadie and her family. I really hope there'll be a sequel, as I would love to read more about the West sisters and the loving town of Monticello.

It's a great book and I look forward to reading more words by Rachel Fordham.

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In "Beyond Ivy Walls" by Rachel Fordham, sacrificial love is honored to the utmost, to the point where it hurts the most, when life leaves you with excruciatingly painful experiences that leave permanent scars upon your heart. This poignant, deeply moving book is about healing, acceptance and forgiveness. Rachel Fordham dives deep into the human experience to write heartmoving stories with warmth and grace, involving memorable, unforgettable characters, who become an integral part of our hearts and lives, appealing to our intellects and emotions in a way that causes us to think about everything that is praiseworthy, honorable and good. "Beyond Ivy Walls" has a compelling, captivating title that captured my attention instantly, making me want to know urgently what went on behind the scenes. When I received a complimentary review copy from the publishers, I excitedly hung onto every single word and I could not put it down. Readers, you won't be disappointed. Get your own copy right away and step into a fascinating world that will keep you there forever!

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This was such a beautiful book. I loved both Otis' and Sadie's characters. The deep pain both physically and emotionally that Otis had to go through was enough to break anyone's heart and to watch Sadie try to help him through it was simply beautiful. Leon and Mildred were just perfect supporting characters. The love and laughter they bring to the story add so much and they are just the cutest little fill in grandparents. Definitely book a greatly enjoyed.

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Rachel Fordham's books always hit the right spot for me, and Beyond Ivy Walls is no different!

The heartfelt Beauty and the Beast inspired retelling is set in the early 1900s Midwest, and futures a cast of unique and fresh characters. I loved Otis and Sadie, obviously, but Leon and Mildred were just as sweet a couple!

There are some deeper themes touched on during the story, but they are all handled with tact and thoughtfulness, as I've come to expect from Fordham.

This is a book that will touch readers hearts—speaking from experience 🥰💕

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There isn’t a book this author writes that I don’t love. The character gets are always so developed. The historical details are always so interesting and the storyline always keeps me interested.
Really an enjoyable read. Thanks NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy.

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Beyond Ivy Walls is a beautiful historical romance with Beauty and the Beast vibes!

Rachel Fordham’s writing has a way of pulling you in and making you feel like you are a part of the story. Filled with themes of love, healing, and acceptance, this book deeply touched my heart!

There is no doubt that Sadie West’s life is difficult. She is working hard in a feather duster factory to help support her family when her father gets hurt. Sadie’s life takes a turn for the worse when she is forced to live in an abandoned factory as her only means of shelter. Otis Taylor's life has been a mystery to a lot of people. When he returns home in secret to sell the family property, he stumbles across Sadie living in his factory. Otis unexpectedly offers Sadie a place to live and a job, which is an answer to her prayers. As the two spend time together they start to share details about their lives. I think for Otis this is the most challenging part because he has the physical and mental scares to contend with. Sadie looks beyond Otis's appearance which takes him by surprise. Sadie’s outlook on her life makes Otis examine his own life and what he’s been through. It is lovely to see how much growth and healing takes place for both characters. As their friendship blooms into something more there is a real possibility of a happy future for them if only, they can get past a few obstacles first.

What I loved:
-Small town
-Dual POV
-Wounded hero
-Letter exchanges
-Themes of love, healing, & acceptance
-Roller skating
-The mystery elements
-The romance
-The epilogue

This story and these characters have captured my heart. I love the sweet romance that formed between Sadie and Otis. There were a couple of moments throughout the book that just warmed my heart and had me reaching for the tissues. The epilogue is one of them and is just absolute perfection! With wonderful side characters and a little bit of mystery this was the most enjoyable book!

Thank you Netgalley for the advance readers copy of Beyond Ivy Walls in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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When hope lives alongside heartache, life is tangled, just like the ivy that grows on the walls around the property. Rachel Fordham has written an enchanting book that delves deep into the lives of Sadie and Otis, two characters that have each known heartache of a deep and abiding kind. This heartache can become all encompassing unless someone steps into that grief and exposes it to hope. This is what makes this story such and enchanting and exciting read.

Sadie is striving to hold onto her positive outlook while living in complete squalor and dejection but working hard at providing for her mother, her sisters, and her severely injured father. Hope is hard to find sometimes but Sadie looks to her family for purpose. Pushing ever onward, she is discovered by Otis living in the abandoned factory on his property. His aching for something worthwhile causes him to push past what his father or brother might have done and to offer his own version of hope to Sadie. Little does he realize that by doing so, he also reached for the hope she offers him.

As Sadie and Otis' friendship grows, we see the depth of the characters Fordham writes. They are courageous in the face of fear, stepping just to the edge of it each time, pushing slightly further toward it each time. This touching the edge of fear and pushing just into it each time was something I loved the imagery of. This image really brings to life the highlight of the story. Each push forward brought more hope and less heartache.

It was a joy to read Beyond Ivy Walls. It contains a depth of character not often seen in historical fiction and I found myself drawn into the story more and more with each passing paragraph. "I couldn't put it down" is a somewhat cliche statement but it was true of this story for me. I read late into the night, drawn more and more into finding out how Sadie and Otis would handle the hope and heartache, love and longing that were living next to each other in their daily lives.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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What an absolutely beautiful book! This is my second read for Rachel Fordham and I'm definitely hooked on her writing.
This novel was a different take on the Beauty and the Beast story and was packed with warmth and heart.

Sadie and Otis are a lovely set of characters and I could absolutely see their love grow throughout the book like they were perfectly matched. I enjoyed their banter and their letters and the 'less than polite, bordering on awkward' conversations that came from not spending too much time with others before.

I loved Leon and Mildred and thought they were the perfect parental figures in the story and I want to be a surrogate sister and a West woman for sure. The sisterly love and comradeship was lovely.

My favourite scene in the book which had me grinning like a loon was the family evening at the West's where they read a story of Daphne and Mr Darling. So so sweet and perfect for this pairing.

Rachel Fordham always does the research soundly for the time periods she writes in and creates such lovable, feisty characters, and I'm always sad when it comes to the end of the book.

A fantastic read and one I will definitely do a reread of again.
Thanks to Netgalley and the author and publisher for a temporary copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Great Beauty and the Beast retelling. The characters weee easy to like and very relatable. The plot was easy to follow along with and captures your interest right away. A read from Fordham is always going to be an enjoyable one.
Thank you to Fordham and NetGalley for my advanced copy. These words are my own.

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"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."
Beyond Ivy Walls is one of the best Beauty and the Beast retellings I’ve ever had the pleasure to read! The emotional depth Rachel Fordham managed with Otis and Sadie’s characters is exactly what I look for first in a novel. The backstory given about Otis is naturally woven into the story and does not feel like a brain dump of information. I felt every bit of his pain and hurt and my heart wept for him. Sadie is a girl I could see myself wanting to be best friends with. She has a heart of gold and such an encouraging nature, even during her own struggles.
The way their friendship grew and they leaned on each other was so refreshing. I laughed, shouted, and cried while reading this book. The ending was so beautiful and endearing, there are no words for the love I felt in that moment for both of these characters. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time!

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Beyond Ivy Walls is so much more than a Beauty and the Beast story. It has dealing with one's past, sacrifices made for family, friendships, forgiveness, acceptance, and so much more. Such a poignant story with powerful characters.

Releases Aug. 13th. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Beyond Ivy Walls has the feel of Beauty and the Beast, set in 1903 Iowa. Sadie, a vibrant young woman finds herself working at a feather duster company to help support her family. I love her honest, upbeat nature despite the hardships she is facing. Her letters home to her sisters were touching and comical and demonstrate the beauty of her character. Otis is drawn to this beauty, having been an outcast and in seclusion most of his life. He bears scars, internal and external, and Sadie’s ability to see past all of them brings Otis back to life. I love the nuances of their friendship as it is uniquely theirs. They grow in their respect and admiration for one another in a fiercely loyal, yet humorous, companionship. The writing is well paced and drew me in from start to finish. There are layers of depth that deliver nuggets of wisdom throughout in addition to just great storytelling.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley and opinions expressed are solely my own, freely given.

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Beyond Ivy Walls has been such a pleasure to read! It's been one of those late-into-the night, page-turning reads for me. Such good, clean fun and amusing comedy coupleD with feathers and letters and mysteriousness, kindness and compassion. Oh, and wrapped in an envelope of unconditional love and romance that crept up and slowly burst into unsuspecting flame, without being cringy.

I believe that the Discussion Questions at story's end will help a reader or readers' group sort through some of the issues that presented themselves along the way.

A very satisfying read for me, thus I give the author a 5-Star rating. I hope to read more from Rachel Fordham in time to come.

~Eunice C., Reviewer/Blogger~

May 2024

Disclaimer: This is my honest opinion based on the complimentary review copy sent by NetGalley and the publisher.

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A poignantly touching novel with a "Beauty and The Beast" feel. Set in the early 1900's, this novel of family, heartbreak, healing and hope drew me in and kept my attention throughout. After her father has a crippling accident, Sadie West leaves the family farm to work in the city to help ease the financial struggles they are facing. But in order to save as much as possible, she finds she can't afford a boardinghouse. Thus she "lives" in an abandoned factory. Otis Taylor, exiled as a child, has returned to the family home after the death of his brother. He intends to settle and sell the estate then move on. But after seeing the state of affairs, he realizes there isn't a quick fix. Dealing with the mess his brother left and uncovering a well-kept secret, Otis finds himself having to come to terms with long held hurt and mistrust. When he discovers Sadie "living" in his family's abandoned factory, he offers to hire her for a better wage with the stipulation she keeps his return a secret. Can the two of them press on with what is needful, form a working relationship and find friendship in unlikely places? Rachel Fordham once again weaves a tale with wonderful character development and plot filled with twists and turn. A definite must-read for 2024!

I was gifted a copy of this novel by the publisher through NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are soley my own.

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This was such a good book! I am such a fan of Rachel Fordhams books so I was excited for this one. It didn’t disappoint, I loved the storyline and the characters! Highly recommend!

I just reviewed Beyond Ivy Walls by Rachel Fordham. #BeyondIvyWalls #NetGalley

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There are so many facets of this story to admire! The setting is unique and fresh and charming. The characters are flawed, scarred, and endearing. The nods to Beauty and the Beast left me smiling. The themes of self reliance, selfless love, and self confidence amid ridicule left me with desire and inspiration to be a better person. I enjoyed this book!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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I was completely captivated by this narrative. Among all of Rachel Fordham's works I've read so far, this one stands out as my ultimate favorite. It's a brilliantly crafted retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale, using a fresh twist of this timeless classic. Every element, from the storytelling to the characters, and especially the romance, had me utterly enchanted.

Throughout the tale, my heart fluttered with delight at this fresh take on a classic fairytale. The early twentieth-century setting, along with the unique locations and events, added a delightful charm to the narrative. The writing was so immersive and meticulously detailed that it transported me effortlessly to the early 1900s, allowing me to experience the story alongside the characters. What's more, I appreciated the author's skill in avoiding excessive descriptive passages, ensuring a seamless journey back in time.

Otis and Sadie quickly became endearing protagonists, earning my unwavering support as their story unfolded. Exploring their personalities was a joy, witnessing the gradual blossoming of their romance. This love story delves far beyond superficiality; it's enriched with profound emotional layers and intricately woven backstories, drawing me even closer to the characters. Witnessing their growth and transformation was deeply gratifying, underscoring their remarkable strength. Their impact lingers in my thoughts even weeks later, a testament to their enduring presence. I also appreciated that this is a clean romance without any spice or foul language.

The book also delves into some profound themes, offering valuable insights on confronting past traumas, making sacrifices for family, forgiveness, acceptance, and love. It was one of those reads that I just couldn't tear myself away from; I finished it in just a couple of days. I laughed, cried, and swooned along with the characters on their journey. This touching story truly resonated with me, leaving a lasting impact. There are some very sweet scenes and emotional moments, as well as some wonderful life lessons to learn. It's exceptionally well-written, charming, and heartfelt—a narrative that will linger in my thoughts for a long time to come.

Highly, highly recommend!!

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. These are my own thoughts and opinions.

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The title of Rachel Fordham’s newest book, Beyond the Ivy Walls, gives the eager reader wonderful hints of a clever, unique, and intriguing story. The gorgeous cover accompanying this story allows the reader to immediately become immersed in the setting and imagine what might happen between Sadie and Otis. The title and cover of the story help to emulate warm feelings of a timeless fairytale that will hold the promise of a story filled with love, everlasting.

As Fordham develops her characters, you meet Sadie and Otis, as well as other characters in the story. I was drawn to Sadie’s determination to help her family by working in a strange city by herself. Sadie is a true heroine. I admired her grit and gumption to stay in the abandoned building overnight in order to continue to work at the factory. I was a bit nervous for Sadie, thinking of the bugs and other critters of the night that could attack her, but Fordham anticipates this and adds in the warm loving, yet humorous introduction of Wolf and his devotion to Sadie.

As the story progresses, Fordham sprinkles the story with precious gems of truth (“a different kind of normal”) and pearls of wisdom when dealing with personal fears. She offers life changing platitudes, which can evoke deep and personal meanings for each of the readers. I was personally touched by several scenes in the story, especially dealing with Sadie and her family.

This story is filled with old-fashioned fun, a “ Nellie Olsen'' type villain and Jane Austin style humor (“ I don’t expect a suitor to come walking through that door”). Also, I did not miss the witty humor when Sadie chuckled about the “dusting masks”! Brilliant writing!

This story has everything! Romance, suspense, adventure, plus fun times with roller skating, which all add to the whimsical charm of the story. This story is so satisfying and wonderful that I will purchase a copy for my middle school classroom and family members as gifts! I assure you, dear readers, that this book is not to be missed! You will enjoy every moment of Beyond the Ivy Walls by Rachel Fordham.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Wow. Wow. Wow.
This retelling of Beauty and the Beast was fabulous. Perhaps one of my favourite stories of 2024 so far! Rachel Fordham brought the classic tale to life in 1903 Iowa, through Sadie West and Otis Taylor’s tale.
Sadie is working hard to help her family keep their farm after an accident renders her father unable to walk. But her life is difficult and what little money she has, she sends home, sacrificing her own comforts. She finds shelter in an abandoned factory, with only a curious dog for a friend.
Otis Taylor reluctantly returns home after he learns of his inheritance, but is chased by the past as he steps foot back in his childhood home. Scarred from treatments for an ailment as a child, he avoids stepping out in public and covers his face from prying eyes.
Emotions run deep in this story, tugging at the reader’s heartstrings with every turn of the page. Self-sacrifices, grand gestures, and heartwarming moments pepper the pages of this turn-of-the-century story.
Readers will fall in love with Otis Taylor – seeing past his physical scars – as he learns to trust and love someone who cares deeply for him in return.
The faith aspect of the story sticks to brief mentions of faith, but still, hope is woven through the text.
Yeah. This was a fantastic read. One I’ll read again.
I received an ecopy from the publisher through Net Galley. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Rachel Fordham is one of the best historical romance authors out there right now. I always enjoy her books so much! I felt such a strong pull towards a happy ending in this book, and weathering all the twists and turns to get there was so emotional. In a time when most romance readers prefer explicit content on the pages, the way Fordham weaves a tale of love and longing is so much more effective at invoking the strongest of feelings with her writing. I fell in love again with these characters and this story!

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