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The Secret of Pembrooke Park Paperback – December 2, 2014
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From the Back Cover
Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister.
Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until 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 acquainted with the manor's past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.
This catches Abigail's attention. Hoping to restore her family's finances--and her dowry--Abigail looks for this supposed treasure. But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn't the only one secretly searching the house.
Then Abigail begins receiving anonymous letters, containing clues about the hidden room and startling discoveries about the past.
As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?
"Regency romance with awesome castles, secrets, hidden rooms and, of course, romance . . . . Julie Klassen has hit this one out of the ballpark."--RT Book Reviews Top Pick
"Klassen has combined all kinds of reader-favorite elements in this mystery romance, including a grand estate, inscrutable villagers, a family tragedy and the first sweet buds of a love story....The Secret of Pembrooke Park is a gem for Regency and inspirational readers alike."--Bookpage
"Jane Austen meets Victoria Holt in Christy Award-winning Klassen's latest deliciously spooky and sweetly romantic historical."--Booklist
About the Author
Three-time Christy Award winner 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. She and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota. Learn more at www.julieklassen.com.
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Top customer reviews
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I did appreciate how clean the romance was, as well as the Christian doctrine appropriately sprinkled throughout.
Ms. Klassen is one of my favorite authors - I have been disappointed by her last two books (this one and Dancing Master), but she is a great talent, and I hope her next effort will more resemble her earlier books. Having had these two recent, mediocre experiences, I think for her next book I will wait to get it at the library instead of buying.
My Review: 5/10
I had mixed feelings about this book. I really liked the setting, the nods to Jane Austen, and the mystery in general. The plot was very well done; I was very invested in unraveling it, and had no suspicions or theories as to true motives of any of the characters.
However, a lot of William's and Abigail's actions didn't sit well with me. I'm not an authority on 19th century propriety by any means, unless a solid love of Jane Austen's work and a tendency to immerse myself in regency period novels makes me an expert. But I just couldn't see a devoted man of the cloth or a well-bred lady doing the things that they did. I mean, Lydia Bennet would, but she brought shame down on anyone with a teaspoon's worth of sense. Frequently inviting a man into your bedchamber, being alone with said man in said bedchamber, coming upon a half naked man and then staying to chat, the super forward flirtatious remarks, the sensuous lingering touches- these are all commonplace and accepted today, but 200 years ago? Not so much. Definitely not without consequences. I was frequently disappointed in both of them. How often William risked her reputation. If he really cared for her and/or if he had integrity, he wouldn't have trifled with her, but would have taken the utmost care to treat her like a lady and preserve her good name.
The only real deviation that I see from the previous books is that usually the author has sort of a focus of Regency Era life, along with quotes from various source material before each chapter. I'm not really sure if she was attempting to paint the life of a local clergyman or steward, because it wasn't front and center as part of the novel. It was the profession of our male protagonist, but I don't feel like I necessarily learned something new about the profession from reading the book. With the previous novels, it feels like you come away with a history lesson as well as a happy ending. We still got our happy ending (duh), but I did miss that a bit from Klassen's previous novels. Still very enjoyable though, I read the book in one night, and I will definitely read again.
Writing is great. Flows well. Unexpected plot twists. Well-developed characters.
Some scenes, however, felt somewhat improper for this period. A woman generally isn't left alone with a man, and certain wouldn't allow him in her bedroom or in private parts of the house.
All in all, I did not feel that this book was one of Ms. Klassen's strongest works, but she did do a fair job tying up the loose ends. Would I read this book again? It's hard to say. I don't love it, but I don't hate it either.