Be Swept Away to a World of Ballrooms and Dancing

The moment we’ve all been waiting for (or at least all the fans of Kristi Ann Hunter’s Regency-era “Hawthorne House” series have been waiting for) finally arrived in the autumn of 2017! From Bethany House comes “An Inconvenient Beauty”, the story of the last, unmarried Hawthorne sibling: Griffith, Duke of Riverton. Because Griffith was a character we all came to adore in the previous books, I’m certain I wasn’t the only reader waiting with baited breath to finally encounter the lady who would win his heart. Continue reading

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Julie Klassen’s First Series

289895_innkeeperofivyhill_slider“Welcome to the English village of Ivy Hill, where friendships thrive, romance blossoms, and mysteries await. . . .” With these words, celebrated Inspirational Regency Romance author Julie Klassen invites us to step into the world of her first-ever series entitled “Tales from Ivy Hill”. The first book of this much-anticipated new series, “The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill”, released in December of 2016 from Bethany House, with sequels to follow in December of 2017 and 2018. If you have previously enjoyed such memorable Klassen novels as “The Dancing Master” and “The Secret of Pembrooke Park”, let me just say this series is one you won’t want to miss… Continue reading

A Fascinating Sequel

13327472_792729517493676_1234031124058448960_nAn Elegant Facade imageIt isn’t very often that the second story in a series outshines the first, but that is exactly what has happened with the “Hawthorne House” series by Kristi Ann Hunter! “An Elegant Facade” is the new 2016 sequel to “A Noble Masquerade”, both published by Bethany House. According to Ms. Hunter’s website, the series will carry on for at least two more books, meaning that each of the four Hawthorne siblings will have their own story. Who is “An Elegant Facade” about, you ask? Well, it reveals the secrets of Georgina Hawthorne, and what a story it turns out to be! Continue reading

A Disappointing Story from a Favorite Author

The Painter's Daughter imageJulie Klassen’s newest novel, The Painter’s Daughter, was released from Bethany House in December of 2015. Seeing this talented storyteller’s name on a new book, I automatically assumed I would enjoy it as much as her previous work, namely The Dancing Master and The Secret of Pembrooke Park. After reading the synopsis for this new story, however, I was slightly hesitant to request a review copy. A young women in serious trouble, a hasty marriage of convenience between strangers, and a too-late reunion of love lost – that sounded like a possible recipe for inappropriate content! Ultimately, I decided to trust Miss Klassen and request the title anyway, hoping the main storyline did not focus primarily on these details. Continue reading

An Unconventional Regency Tale

A Noble Masquerade header imageFrom the back cover:

Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, the Duke of Marshington. Since she’s never actually met the man she has no intention of ever sending the letters and is mortified when her brother’s mysterious new valet, Marlow, mistakenly mails one of the letters to the unsuspecting duke.

Shockingly, this breach of etiquette results in a reply from the duke that soon leads to a lively correspondence. Insecurity about her previous lack of suitors soon becomes confusion as Miranda finds herself equally intrigued by Marlow, a man she has come to depend upon but whose behavior grows more suspicious by the day. As the secret goings-on at her family’s estate come to light, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love. Continue reading

The Secret of Pembrooke Park review

SecretofPembrookePark_mck.inddMany fans of historical fiction enjoy the Regency setting of Jane Austen’s era – a period of elegance and etiquette, when young ladies spent their days preparing for ‘the season’, and personal success was measured by the mastery of social graces. On the other hand, some readers prefer more intrigue, suspense, and action in their historical novels, even though it may be unorthodox for the time period. In either case, bestselling author Julie Klassen delivers a tale that is sure to appeal to both ends of the spectrum in her newest release from Bethany House, The Secret of Pembrooke Park. To fans of her previous works, including The Dancing Master, Ms. Klassen suggests that this novel may be her best work yet. Does her untypically strong focus on the mystery woven throughout the romance prove her right, Continue reading

The Dancing Master review

The Dancing Master imageDo you enjoy Christian Historical Fiction, but also love the elegance of ballroom dancing, beautiful gowns, and oh-so-proper courtships of Jane Austen’s Regency-era stories?  Well, award-winning author Julie Klassen has combined the best of both genres into a masterful tale you won’t want to miss.  The Dancing Master, published by Bethany House early in 2014, is an extremely well-written Regency novel filled with mystery, romance, drama, and enough plot twists to keep you guessing until the end.

Although The Dancing Master is longer than most novels of its kind, the intricate storyline and vast amount of historical details help it move along quickly.  Clearly Ms. Klassen has taken painstaking care to ensure historical accuracy, but only includes information relevant to the circumstances,  and does not overwhelm readers with unnecessary descriptions.  Many aspects of 19th century dancing are woven into the story, giving readers a taste of the grace and art required to master the often-complicated steps required in a ballroom.

Certainly one of the most enjoyable features of the book are the various quotes at the beginning of each chapter hinting at upcoming story events, but written by real people of the time period.  Advertisements for actual dancing masters, excerpts from diaries, and quotations from Jane Austen are just a few of the interesting historical samples chosen to open each chapter.

Although the in-depth historical depictions play a vital role in The Dancing Master, they do not in any way detract from the intriguing storyline and colorful characters, but rather intensify the feeling of reality for the reader.  Told from several perspectives, we see the story unfold through the eyes of two primary characters who, by the story’s end, we are certain to relate to in some way, big or small.  Woven into the story are the timeless themes, and truths, of love and grace portrayed in many different ways.

In short, The Dancing Master was a delight to read, both for its page-turning plot and fascinating attention to historical detail.  Although a few portions of the story were somewhat objectionable, including several interwoven scandals, they were treated and reacted to appropriately – as scandalous!   Ultimately, if you are looking for a longer, masterfully written novel set in the classic Regency time period and filled with truths of God’s design, look no further than The Dancing Master.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.