Monday, March 20, 2017

Julie Klassen Books

Occasionally I get in the mood for a historical romance. I discovered Julie Klassen's books a few years ago and although Christian romance wasn't really something I was looking to read, I really ended up liking these at lot. The religious aspect in these is usually done just right for me, not too preachy and overt. The historic Regency setting coupled with a little mystery is what really drew me to these books to begin with. Here are my reviews for six of Julie Klassen's books...



The Girl in the GatehouseThe Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult, Christian
Genre: Historical Romance



Mariah Aubrey, banished after a scandal, hides herself away in a gatehouse on the far edge of a distant relative's estate. There, she supports herself by writing novels in secret.

Captain Matthew Bryant returns to England after the Napoleonic wars and leases an estate from a nobleman. When he discovers an old gatehouse on the property, he is immediately intrigued by its striking young inhabitant and sets out to uncover her identity, and her past.

The Girl in the Gatehouse is the first book I read by Julie Klassen and I liked it enough to want to keep reading more of her books. I enjoy the theme she explores in this book about redemption. Mariah, the main character here has made her share of mistakes and has paid for them. I really liked Mariah a lot. I thought she was a lovely person and Matthew was an idiot for being so hesitant about the relationship.

I had a harder time liking Matthew at certain points in the book because he was too worried about social standing and what other people thought, and too quick to judge Mariah for her mistakes, but he eventually comes around

There were a few too many coincidences in the story, but it was still very enjoyable.




The Silent GovernessThe Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 
Category: Adult, Christian
Genre: Historical Romance, Mystery



Lord Bradley has just learned a terrible secret that could change his life forever. When he sees a person lurking around on the grounds of his estate, he's afraid a spy or thief has overheard this secret. But he soon learns the intruder is a woman who has been badly injured. Fearing the woman will tell his secret, he gives her a post and confines her to his estate.

There were several mysteries to figure out in The Silent Governess. It wouldn't have been half as good without them. The romance between Edward and Olivia was slow in developing, but I thought that made it all the more believable. I enjoyed seeing the slow change in Edward, and it ended very nicely.

 



The Painter's DaughterThe Painter's Daughter by Julie Klassen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Category: Adult, Christian
Genre: Historical Romance



Sophie Dupont assists her father in his art studio, while painting her own landscapes of the picturesque north Devon coast. When handsome artist Wesley Overtree, takes an interest in Sophie she quickly falls in love with him. Eventually the carefree Wesley ends up leaving Sophie and traveling to Italy, leaving her in a precarious position.  

Soon after, Wesley's brother, Captain Stephen Overtree, is on leave and comes to Devonshire in search of his brother to try to bring him home so that he can take care of his responsibilities there. He meets the lovely Sophie and feels duty bound to help her because of his brother's actions. Stephen ends up proposing to Sophie, offering to marry her in name only to save her from scandal. 

Sophie is desperate for a way to escape her predicament, but she finds herself torn between her feelings for Wesley and his brother whom she barely knows.

The Painter's Daughter is another great Julie Klassen book. I loved all the characters in the book, well except for one, but he wasn't meant to be all that likable. I do feel like things ended a bit too neatly wrapped up for everyone, especially with the situation concerning the child. Surely some complications would arise from the situation. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it's one of the only historical romance books I've added to my favorites list.




The Tutor's DaughterThe Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Category: Adult, Christian
Genre: Historical Romance, Mystery



Emma Smallwood agrees to travel with her father to the distant Cornwall coast when his academy fails. A baronet whose two older sons attended the academy has hired Emma's father to tutor his two younger sons at their manor there. But after they arrive at the manor some mysterious things begin to happen.
 

The baronet's two older sons, Phillip and Henry, who used to attend her father's academy, both remembered Emma as an awkward young girl, but she is very different now that she's all grown up and one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her. 

The Tutor's Daughter is a Christian Regency romance with a bit of Jane Eyre (the large mysterious house with a family secret and odd noises in the middle of the night), a little of Jamaica Inn (the wreckers who profit off of ships sinking off the coast) and a dash of Sabrina (The 1954 Audry Hepburn movie) thrown in. I liked this combination a lot. I also really enjoyed the slow build of the romance.

I did feel like the book was kind of long and I usually prefer the religious aspects of these type books to be more subtly woven into the story. Unfortunately in this one it got a little heavy handed for me near the end, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.






The Secret of Pembrooke ParkThe Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult, Christian
Genre: Historical Romance, Mystery



Abigail Foster's family is forced to sell their London home because of financial problems. With next to no dowry Abigail is afraid that she will end up being a spinster. Soon the Foster's are visited by a solicitor who offers them something unexpected that they cannot refuse; the use of distant manor house, Pembrooke Park, that has been abandoned for eighteen years. 

The Fosters make the journey to Pembrooke Park and are surprised to find that it seems the previous occupants just vanished and left everything. There are tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, and a doll's house left mid-play. They also hear rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.

There is lots of mystery surrounding Pembrooke Park, and of course it was the mystery that really drew me in. It reminded me a lot of The Tutor's Daughter in that aspect. Although I wasn't sure about a few of my guesses until they were revealed, I did figure out all of the mysteries.

Though a bit long (this is Klassen's longest book to date), I found it hard to put down. I liked reading about all the characters. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the Parson being a love interest at first, but he was humble and not overly preachy which was nice. There was the irritating trope of characters thinking the one they love is in love with someone else that runs prevalent in these Regency romances, but I was able to overlook it.

Minor spoiler here...I did feel like the message of not seeking worldly treasures was a little heavy handed near the end with the way things end up for the character Miles. I was kind of sad and disappointed about that. I really thought he was going to come around and find happiness.




Lady MaybeLady Maybe by Julie Klassen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult, Christian
Genre: Historical Romance



Hannah is a ladies companion who has been in an accident and has lost some of her memories. After the accident she awakens in a room she has never seen before and she is tended to by unfamiliar faces. But she does remember fragments of the accident. She remembers a baby, and a ring on her finger reminds her of a lie. But most of all, she remembers a secret that she can trust no one but herself to keep.

I've read several books by Julie Klassen and usually know what to expect. She writes Christian romance that is usually not too preachy, which I like. They are sweet, completely clean romances. Lady Maybe actually surprised me because it is unlike anything else I've read by the author.

There have been several reviewers who disliked this book for one reason or another. Some because they felt like the romance or "sexual" scenes got too descriptive, or because the main character was too tempted and made too many wrong choices throughout the book. Personally I didn't have a problem with this book at all. I like my romances to be clean and I honestly didn't feel like this one wasn't. There is a flash back scene with more description than usual for a Julie Klassen book, that leads up to an act between an unmarried woman and a man, but it was still fade to black with no detail written about the act itself.

This isn't the first Klassen book that I've read that has a character who has done something in their past that they are ashamed of. I like to read about characters that struggle and learn from their mistakes. The difference in this book is that the main character is still struggling with honesty and is tempted morally, and she has several choices to make about her present and future which could lead her down the right path or the wrong path. In the end she does her best to right the wrongs in her life which I think makes the book worth reading.

The point of the book was that there is redemption for all and I thought that point was very well drawn without being preachy. The part where the main character stops the boy from throwing the apple at the woman in the stocks and quotes "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" was a nice touch and helped to drive home the whole message of the book. It was interesting that she went and sat beside the woman in the stocks, and that she forgave her for the things she had done to her. How many of us would do that?

At times I struggled to like the main character or either of the two love interests in the book, but that somehow made the story better and the characters more real to me. Also the fact that there is a love triangle in a Klassen book surprised me as I don't remember any of her other books containing one. But this was a love triangle done right and it made a lot of sense to the story.

I thought one of the best things about this book were all of the twists and secrets involved. It really kept me reading and wondering and hoping I was guessing right about things. In the end I was happy with the way things turned out.




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