The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

THE SECRET OF PEMBROOKE PARK By Julie Klassen

Publisher:  Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: December 1, 2014

Pages:  460
Genre:  Christian Historical Fiction

Book Description: 
Julie Klassen Is the Top Name in Inspirational regency Romance

Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her--a longtime friend--has fallen for her younger, prettier sister.
When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play.


The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor's past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family's financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?


Wanda's Thoughts:  1817 - England - Regency Era - The Foster family was facing financial difficulties and needed a more affordable place to live. Pembrooke Park was offered to them, but the house had been vacated and boarded up for eighteen years. The terms were easy - they were to inhabit the old manor house for twelve months, with a staff of five servants to keep them comfortable. And the story unfolds with a mystery, romance, and many twists and turns.

The writing is what you would expect from Julie Klassen. It is well researched, and perfectly penned in her signature style. I always look forward to a new release from this author. I've read all of her books and always have high expectations. However, I'm sorry to say, this book was not for me. There were a few bright spots in the book, but few and far between. I was drawn into the storyline early, but soon lost interest. I found myself caring very little about the characters and eventually I began skimming - I wasn't able to stay motivated. It was difficult to keep track of the many characters, and the story should've been wrapped up at a quicker pace - too long.

Ending on a positive note, the story had a beautiful setting, and the conclusion was good, although rather predictable. The early books written by this author are still my favorites and had more of an impact on me. This one was just lukewarm. My rating is 3 stars.

About the Author:  Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also won the Midwest Book Award, Christian Retailing’s BEST Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards, Minnesota Book Awards, and ACFW’s Carol Awards. She blogs at http://www.inspiredbylifeandfiction.com.
Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.