Returning after facing down the big C ogre with hubby ~ ta-da, more bites from the (huge) apple of my review backlog. Today, two offerings from three-time Christy Award winner, Julie Klassen.
Surely in her Minnesota hometown, Julie Klassen must spend time fishing ~ for in The Tutor’s Daughter she set the hook on page one and steadily reeled me deeper as the story unfurled. [Though, truly I was captured by the cover first. Isn’t it a delight?] I easily engaged with sweet, intelligent Emma Smallwood and empathized as she endured loss and navigated disconcerting changes to the predictable, comfortable life her father made for the two of them after Emma’s mother died.
When a changing economic situation forces her father to consider closing the small boarding school for boys, Emma grasps at any straw she can conceive of to save them. But when an offer comes, Mr. Smallwood closes the school and moves them to an estate in Cornwall where they will tutor two boys. And though she faces the change with trepidation, she does so with grace and a smile, hoping to encourage her melancholy father.
From the time the Smallwoods enter Cornwall and Ebbington Manor, the story’s twists and surprises continually ramp up the mystery. It seems everyone there harbors secrets, and Emma faces perils that kept me reading later than prudent.
I savored every bit of description, England being a location I enjoy, and Cornwall nearly above all others. Klassen uses the setting with great skill not only to draw the reader in but to advance the plot ~ always a nice touch. Not every author adds this bit of quality, and I appreciate being immersed in a pleasant locale.
If I can resist ripping off the cover to hang as a piece of art, this book will remain on my TBR shelf, as I will certainly enjoy another sojourn in Cornwall.
LADY MAYBE ~ Julie Klassen
Having read at least a half-dozen of Julie Klassen’s books, I am a fan. LADY MAYBE is chock full of the high-quality writing with well-developed, interesting characters and rich, historically accurate setting she does so well. The story is gripping from its creative and compelling inciting incident. The powerful consequences and possible losses that could result from each choice the heroine faces kept me eager to continue reading. Occasionally I thought I’d figured out the next turn of events, but nope. I was always surprised. Klassen is a gifted storyteller.
I do think LADY MAYBE fell a bit short in one aspect—the romantic plot thread. The content was more sexually-oriented than others I’ve read by Klassen. Also, the heroine waffled between love interests but, for me, her motivation to do so wasn’t clear. This left me with no particular hero to root for. I wondered if the marked difference between this novel and other Klassen offerings’ usual delightful mix of drama, mystery, and romance is the result of the new publisher.
Visit Julie at her blog and learn more about her fascinating stories rich in unique characters and unusual situations. You won’t be disappointed.