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Friday, January 31, 2014

The Dancing Master, Julie Klassen ~ A Review

I should post a photo of the book after I was done with it. I’d put it up there on the shelf with the ‘most tattered’ review books I have. It’s been through a lot the last couple of weeks.

I started with an electronic copy on my Kindle, but the download didn’t go well and Bethany sent me a physical book. I brought the book on our 11 day Surf Camp this month. With the difficulties on the Kindle, I confess I wasn’t too excited about the story at first. Starting over with the physical product changed my mind.

Set in 1816 in Devonshire, England, this historical mystery reads like a Jane Austin story. So much rich detail with the town and countryside. An abundant supply of rich characters keeps your mind full as you travel page to page. There are three main families, and you get to know their homes and family members well. You also get to know the folks in town that they interact with in detail. I really like that about a story. I don’t like the setting were it feels like the two main characters are the only people alive at that moment.

This is a Romantic Mystery – you can pretty much assume who will end up together from the start of the story – however, you have no idea how or why until the last page. Don’t make any assumptions about any of the characters until the last chapter.

I spent many nights with my flashlight flipping pages in my tent snuggled in my sleeping bag being transported to their world. Their struggle  of living in an area where much if not all of the income came directly from one family. What if your profession or values clashed with that one person? Would you stand for your passion no matter what adversary came your way? Would you cave to work in a manual labor job if that wasn’t your heart? Although it was the 1800’s, many of the cultural expectations cross over to every generation.

I also enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter from real sources. They would give you a teasing peek into the pages ahead. Which meant less midnight sleep for me.

There is a reader’s guide included as well. 

I am less inclined to read romantic fiction any more, it is not my first choice. I was worried that this book would be that alone. With the characters, town, history, profession, horses, families – the relationship between the two romantic characters took a back seat. For that, I was glad. You spend most of the book hoping that young Alec and his family get a fair shake, that the mystery be revealed, and that you’ll find out who is behind it, rather than spending all the pages wishing the two people will just realize they like each other and the book will end.

This was the perfect book to keep me entertained while on the Surf Camp!



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.

The Dancing Master

I received a free physical copy of The Dancing Master in exchange for linking a review with Bethany House Publishers, A Division of Baker Publishing Group. All opinions are my own. About is given by the publisher.