Thursday, 30 January 2014

Book Review: The Dancing Master

Cover Art
ISBN #9780764210709

Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he's initially wary of Julia Midwinter's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul--and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master--a man her mother would never approve of--but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec's help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village...and to her mother's tattered heart?

Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a "good match" in Regency England.

My Reflections:

To start off I am a big fan of Julie Klassen, her books are some of my favorites, so when I had the opportunity to review her newest book "The Dancing Master" it was with anticipation.

Unfortunately the storyline stepped on my toes a few too many times, I was left standing without a suitable strong character to lead me through the difficult choreography of this hefty book.

This book is told in the third person point of view between Alec Valcourt, the dance master, Julia the rich, pitiful daughter to Amelia Midwinter who has started this ridiculous no dancing law. Which by the way is an unofficial law.

Let's start with Alec, His character just got under my skin. After his family arrive to the remote village of Devonshire, he discovers there is a unofficial law prohibiting dancing. The problem being that Alec is a dance master. Unfortunately this gentleman is the epitome of lazy. When offered a honest laborers position he doesn't even show up at the interview. A man who is afraid of a little hard work is no man at all in my opinion, and certainly not one to fill the hero's dance shoes. I must add that I did find Alec to be witty and a perfect gentleman throughout the book, so this helps with the task of sidestepping through the 424 pages.

Julia Midwinter is really no better, her selfish, manipulative, I am rich and you will bow attitude is so true to character you will have no problem disliking this society gal. Klassen expertly paints a picture of what a person could look like if given everything on a sliver spoon. You do gain some sympathy for this character towards the end of the book when it is revealed that she is like everyone else and in need of grace and forgiveness. She eventually comes around, it just takes a while for her to grow up.

Now for Mother dearest, (Amelia Midwinter), Yikes, talk about ruling with an iron fist! This character will do what it takes to control every one around her, to the point of giving a job to a man she wants to keep away from her daughter. The saying keep your friends close and your enemies closer must be her mantra. The reasons for her "law" seem a little flat, and are not revealed quickly. Frankly, I was expecting a little more drama.

OK here I am picking everything apart, from one of my favorite authors. I am sorry, but I must be honest in my opinion..

Now what I enjoyed, the front cover of this book caught my eye it is "pretty" and begs you to pick it up. The writing is just what you would expect from Klassen, well researched, clear, and perfectly penned. This author knows how to write, and still remains on my favorite list, in spite of this book.


"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".

Julie Klassen

Julie KlassenJulie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She has won the Christy Award: Historical Romance for The Silent...

Continue reading about Julie Klassen
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