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

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Book Review: All Things Hidden

All Things Hidden  -     By: Tracie Peterson & Kimberley Woodhouse
ISBN #9780764211195
 From the Back:

Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse Team Up to Deliver a Stunning Depression-Era Drama

Gwyn Hillerman loves being a nurse at her father's clinic on the beautiful Alaskan frontier. But family life has been rough ever since her mother left them, disdaining the uncivilized country and taking Gwyn's younger sister with her.

In Chicago, Dr. Jeremiah Vaughan finds his life suddenly turned upside down when his medical license is stripped away after an affluent patient dies. In a snowball effect, his fiance breaks their engagement. In an attempt to bury the past, Jeremiah accepts Dr. Hillerman's invitation to join his growing practice in the isolated Alaska Territory.

Gwyn and Jeremiah soon recognize a growing attraction to each other. But when rumors of Jeremiah's past begin to surface, they'll need more than love to face the threat of an uncertain future.

My Reflections: 

The well developed characters, the slow steady build all work together to deliver a tidy little package where mystery and history entwine.

I loved the idea of a story centering on the decision, Franklyn Roosevelt devised to help people destroyed by the depression of 1935. His idea was to send families to a remote area of Alaska to colonies and grow the Matanuska Valley. The really superb thing about this book is these two authors use real and fictional characters to develop their narrative.

Dr Jeremiah Vaughan's life is destroyed by allegations of abuse. When he uses a ground-breaking IV sedation technique with an influential patient, and the patient dies, the authorities are out for blood. This causes his license to be stripped away. Because of this, his intended and her mother want nothing to do with the shame. A has-been doctor is not what a high society woman wants on her arm. Fleeing from the hurt and rejection, from not only his fiance but also his own parents Jeremiah jumps at the chance to work alongside his mentor in a remote Alaskan village, far away from danger and pain...or so he thought.

Gwyn is struggling with fear, rejection, and trust as she tends to her beloved village as a nurse. Her father (who is also the town's only doctor) is ecstatic at the prospect of seeing his village grow with the new colonization. As they race to ready the settlement for the new families, Gwyn must come to a place where she is able to accept the change and uncertainties of her future.

This book was so surprising with it's villainous character and the twists and turns that ensued. It certainly was not the predictable book I imagined it to be.

If you love fiction, history, romance, suspense you will probably enjoy this one. There are a few slow spots where the author is developing you knowledge of the characters, but by no means does it continue through the book. I will be keeping my eyes open for the sequel to this one.

 "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".

 See the trailer here:

About the Authors:

 Tracie Peterson

Tracie Peterson

Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over ninety novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in...
Continue reading about Tracie Peterson 

  Kimberley Woodhouse

Kimberley Woodhouse

Kimberley Woodhouse is a multipublished author of fiction and nonfiction. A popular speaker/teacher, she's shared her theme of Joy Through Trials with over 150,000 people at more than a thousand venues across the country. She lives, writes, and...

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Monday 13 January 2014

Book Review: No One To Trust

From the Back:

Hidden Identity – Book 1

Summer Abernathy wakes up one morning to find her husband missing, three men in her home intent on finding him, and the life she’s been living based on a lie. Which Kyle Abernathy did she marry? The computer programmer she met in line at the bank? Or the one who was apparently using that image as a cover story?
The search for her husband–and answers–takes Summer ever deeper into a world of organized crime where people are used one moment and discarded the next. And with her deepest relationship of trust already shattered, Summer doesn’t know who to believe.
Always thrilling, Lynette Eason outdoes herself in this taut, breakneck story of lies, loyalties, and love that will have readers up all night to discover the truth hidden in the shadows.

My Reflections:

This book reminded me why I love to read!

No One to Trust is a spine tingling, roller-coaster, exhilarating read.  You will not find this book to be boring or predictable. The plot is complex and contains enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes. I simply could not put this book down.

The characters are genuine and spunky to say the least. I did however wonder how Summer stayed so calm, and collected when her very life was on the line. I am sure I would have froze with fear, but not our main character, Summer she held her own on several occasions.

I also enjoyed the character of David aka Kyle. He was sensitive yet dangerous and mysterious at the same time. You knew all the way through that he truly cared for his wife, even though his past was less than honest. Loved the ending, but that's all I am going to say about that!

If you are searching for a book that hits all the right marks, keeps you engaged and holds you hostage, this one is for you! A remarkable job by writer Lynette Eason. I will certainly be keeping my eyes open for this author.

  "Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

 Download the study guide here:

About the Author: 

Lynette Eason Lynette Eason - Author

Lynette Eason is the best selling, award winning author of the Women of Justice Series, the Deadly Reunions series and the soon to be released Hidden Identity Series. She writes for Revell and Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line. Her books have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists. She has won several awards including the 2013 Carol Award for WHEN A HEART STOPS in the Romantic Suspense category. Lynette teaches at writing conferences all over the country. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Lynette can be found online at and and @lynetteeason on Twitter.
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