“Sad, but true. She would have to procure a new favorite coffee mug.

Opening lines of The Inn at Hidden Run by Olivia Newport

The summary of The Inn at Hidden Run by Olivia Newport, and it’s cover, caught my attention but I wasn’t sure what to expect. I kept returning to it until, finally, picking up the 10% sample. From the first line, I was hooked (as anyone with a favourite mug would be), the writing is so comforting and warm, conversational but interesting. Curious, I had to keep going!

Meri’s journey is the centre piece of the story but genealogist, Jillian and family lawyer, Nolan are the narrators and the delightful father-daughter duo who lead us through the story. Amongst the present-day narrative are historical portions set in Memphis in the 1800s, a traumatic period in this city’s history, as it is ravaged by Yellow Fever, I didn’t anticipate this sad, but accurate, element. Lead by a team of nuns, a community of women gather to care for those suffering, relying on God and each other to get them through to this heart-wrenching time. The pain shared in these chapters have a purpose in the present day characters’ journey but it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Context has such impact on who we become and what we believe about ourselves. This is highlighted by this book as it traces the history of families and how it has brought them to where they are now. Family can so challenging, Nolan’s family counseling approach to reconciling Meri with her family shows how an outside perspective can diffuse tension and help bring unity.

Whilst I struggled with the parts focused on the Yellow Fever epidemic, I did enjoy the book and look forward to the next in this series. It’s a four out of five on the en-JOY-meant scale.

From the back cover

Meri’s family has been producing doctors for so many generations that no one remembers why, so when she flunks out of medical school, she runs as far from her parents as she can get. In the small mountain town of Canyon Mines, Colorado, she takes a job at the Inn at Hidden Run B&B. And waits. It’s only a matter of time.

What she doesn’t count on is genealogist Jillian Parisi-Duffy and her father, Nolan, having her back when it takes everything she has not to bolt again but to stay and face the truth that only unfolding her family’s history will reveal. While Nolan works on keeping Meri calm—and in town—Jillian pulls out of her gems of information she doesn’t know she has and arranges the puzzle pieces.

But none of that changes the fact that Meri’s family is closing in to haul her back to her “real” life. When their arrival inflames tensions and Meri finally does bolt, Nolan and Jillian may be out of time.

The Inn at Hidden Run is the first book in the Tree of Life series. Readers will come back to backdrop of a lovely mountain town of Canyon Mines again and again to explore and celebrate unforgettable family stories that inspire them to connect with their own family histories and unique faith journeys.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from Barbour Publishing through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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