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Carly: The Women of Ivy Manor    by Lyn Cote order for
by Lyn Cote
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Carly Sinclair was raised by her single mother, Leigh. But Carly always felt stifled by Leigh's controlling influence. Eager to test her independence, Carly enlists in the army in May of 1990. Although Leigh is adamant that Carly not take this rash step, Carly's stepfather Nate reminds Leigh that she too had been independent. Leigh is hiding the identity of Carly's biological father and will go to any lengths to keep her daughter from knowing the truth.

Carly does join the military, and must learn how to cope in a world that isn't quite used to female soldiers. She deals with sexual harassment and even issues with other women who resent her privileged life. Then the United States becomes involved in Operation Desert Shield, and Carly must test the boundaries of her inner strength when she goes to Kuwait.

This is the fourth book in The Women of Ivy Manor series. Although, in my opinion, Carly improves on Leigh, it still falls short of an ideal read. Carly herself is an admirable young woman. The steps she takes to achieve independence from the controlling influence of her mother will resonate with readers who have had the same issues. The plot is interesting and moves quickly. The wealth of situations Carly finds herself in and resolves will keep the reader engaged.

However, the dialogue doesn't ring true. Many conversations feel forced and read like highly dramatic acting. This pulls the reader's attention from the story. And the ending - which brings together the main characters from the previous novels to air all of their hidden secrets and get things out in the open - also seems contrived. Readers should read all the series episodes to fully understand the interplay of characters. There is a light Christian message, but it is never preachy or overpowering.

If you enjoy sweeping family sagas, The Women of Ivy Manor may hit the right spot with its coverage of history and attention to detail. Carly brings the whole thing to a pleasant conclusion and wraps up the series nicely.

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