Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: January 7, 2014
About the Book: Leaving London, dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire--but is stunned to discover that dancing is prohibited! He finds an unlikely ally in Miss Julia Midwinter, but her questions about his past are becoming harder to evade. Together, can they bring new life to this quiet village--and heal long-kept-secret scars?
Wanda's Thoughts: I eagerly await for all of Julie Klassen's new books - she never disappoints, but I must say this was not one of my favorites. There is an entourage of characters, making the plot lengthy, with stretches where not much is happening and unfortunately I lost interest in spots.
That being said - there is much to like about this book. There is a richness in the writing with so much historical detail, which I absolutely soaked up. The author certainly has a writing flair for the Regency era, setting an ambience that is somewhat similar to Jane Austen. A bit of romance is included, that is decent and modest, and there are, just ever so slight, religious overtones. It is a story of family secrets, romance, uncertainties, scandal, forgiveness and grace.
Nineteen year old Julia Midwinter was headstrong, manipulative, and very outspoken. She would one day be heiress to Buckleigh Manor. Julia's father never wanted a young girl in his domain and her mother seemed to find her charitable organizations more important than Julia. Julia is filled with restlessness and anger and has no interest in becoming the matriarch of Buckleigh Manor. Alex Vancourt was forbidden, but that only made him more interesting to Julia.
Alec Vancourt is a dancing and fencing master and carrying secrets from the past. He was well spoken and educated from a young age by his grandfather. Alec was forewarned to have little to do, as possible, with Julia. He was told that Julia was not his social equal and Julia was destined for greater things. And the story unfolds ---
The well developed characters are cleverly crafted with genuine personalities. Julia was hard to like, but I found her to be quite interesting with her feistiness and desire for adventure. There were a few hidden secrets and surprises revealed throughout, and secondary characters that certainly added interest. The storyline had a satisfying, but rather predictable and lukewarm conclusion. The book still had many redeeming qualities and I found it to be a light and enjoyable read. You can't go wrong with a Julie Klassen book. 4 stars.
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. She has been an advertising manager, fiction editor, and now works as a full-time novelist. Her 3rd book, The Silent Governess, won the Christy Award for Historical Romance, and was also a finalist in the Minnesota Book Awards, ForeWord ReviewsBook of the Year Awards, and the RITA Awards. Her latest books, The Maid of Fairbourne Halland The Girl in the Gatehouse, have also won Christy Awards. Julie is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She and her husband have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota.