Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen


Do you like Jane Austen novels? What lover of romance can resist, right? If so, get ready for a treat with this regency.

Back cover copy:

Miss Mariah Aubrey, banished after a scandal, hides herself away in a long-abandoned gatehouse on the far edge of a distant relative's estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how--by writing novels in secret. Captain Matthew Bryant, returning to England successful and wealthy after the Napoleonic wars, leases an impressive estate from a cash-poor nobleman, determined to show the society beauty who once rejected him what a colossal mistake she made. 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. But the more he learns about her, the more he realizes he must distance himself. Falling in love with an outcast would ruin his well-laid plans. The old gatehouse holds secrets of its own. Can Mariah and Captain Bryant uncover them before the cunning heir to the estate buries them forever?

And now, my review:

Klassen weaves an intriguing story with a few surprises for readers. You get a taste of regency living as told through the eyes of an “authoress.” Loved that, but rather than this element simply being an occupation for the heroine, her career is woven intricately into the plot (and therefore more satisfyingly). As a writer, I enjoyed this.

Two of the themes which stand out are forgiveness and grace. The heroine has committed a nearly unforgivable sin, especially for her time. She’s been sent away to live with her attendant/governess. She writes under a pen name so she won’t further anger her father. Then, she meets a man who may be her future mate, but secrets aren’t a good way to begin a relationship, as she’ll eventually find out.

The romantic aspects of the story were enjoyable, as was the inclusion of dramas and tales. But where Klassen excels is in her ensemble cast. I came to care about all of her characters, who were all very unique and memorable.

This was the first book I’ve read by Julie, but it won’t be the last. Very enjoyable.

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