A complimentary review copy was provided to me.One of the joys of the holidays is not only having time to spend with family and to relax, but it also means time for extra reading (and watching sappy holiday movies - but that seems to be more limited as my kids get older and don't want to watch with me and don't go to bed as early).
Julie Klassen. I have previous read The Dancing Master (you can see my review here), also by Julie Klassen and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I had high hopes for The Secret of Pembrooke Park (it did not disappoint!). As I began to read the book, I discovered that not only was this period literature with some tales of romance, but also a mystery! I have long been a fan of mysteries and to have one set against the background of England in the early 1800s was awesome.
The characters were wonderfully developed in this story. Of course, there were some facts about the characters that were not fully disclosed and others that were revealed in time, by design since the story was in part a mystery. I quickly found myself worrying about Abigail's safety and second guessing whether she could trust those that were around her. What was their history and what did they want with Abigail and her family? I worried about whether she would find love and more importantly, the right love for her.
The mystery and the intrigue that the author developed really pulled me in to the story. I found myself wanting to read "just one more chapter" (and they weren't short) before calling it a night. I even took the book to the gym with me and walked on the treadmill, instead of running, so that I wouldn't lose that time and could continue to read the book. My son was impressed that I managed to read the over 450 page book over the course of a few days, but with as good as the story was, I simply didn't want to put it down.
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.
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?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it if you enjoy period literature, romance and mystery. I look forward to reading more books my Julie Klassen.
No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.