The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen Blog Tour + GIVEAWAY

tsoppjkAs you may have noticed by now, I’m a huge Julie Klassen fan. I’ve reviewed five of her works thus far, and her wit and immersive writing have kept me coming back for more each time. It was a no-brainer then that I decided to be part of the blog tour for The Secret of Pembrooke Park. Matching Klassen’s lively writing style with a dash of mystery was bound to create an adventure that I couldn’t pass up.

From Goodreads:

Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her–a longtime friend–has fallen for her younger, prettier sister.
When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, 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 to know something about the manor’s past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family’s financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?

One of my favorite things about Klassen as an author is seeing the influence that both Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters have in her works. The themes and spirit of her writing borrow from their famous works, and it always makes me happy to see, being such a fan of these authors myself. For example, reading Abigail’s search for the secret treasure room had many parallels to when Catherine Morland was attempting to find out if Henry Tilney’s mother was murdered in Northanger Abbey. Just like in Jane Eyre, there is a serious undertone of Gothic mystery to the plot as a whole, and you get a sense that there is a bigger picture hiding behind all the clues that one comes across during the course of events. I felt this way as clues began piling up while Abigail searches for the secret room and tries to uncover the mysteries of Pembrooke Park. I knew that the anonymous letters, warnings, and other seemingly independent events would weave together in a larger picture, much like Jane’s dealings with Mr. Rochester belie his true intentions until much later.

In addition to these overall themes, I felt that the plot moved well, with the revelations coming quickly enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. Of special note are the twists at the end, which had me actually gasping out loud (much to my husband’s amusement from the other room.) Not only did the plot and themes hook me, but the characters did as well. Abigail, Leah, William, and even Miles were the cause of my ability to read the entire book in one sitting. Overall, Klassen has produced yet another gem in her lineup. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was everything I thought it would be, and if you’ve never had the pleasure of reading any of Klassen’s works, this is a great one to start with.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen
Bethany House Publishing (2014)
Paperback: 464 pages
ISBN: 9780764210716

Special thanks to Bethany House for my review copy!

Author Julie Klassen 2015 x 200AUTHOR BIO:

Julie 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. Three of her books have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota. Learn more about Julie and her books at her website, follower her on Twitter, and visit her on Facebook and Goodreads.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

Grand Giveaway Contest

Win One of Four Fabulous Prizes

Secret Pembrook Park Blog Tour Prizes x 350

In celebration of the release of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, four chances to win copies of Julie’s books and other Jane Austen-inspired items are being offered.

Three lucky winners will receive one trade paperback or eBook copy of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, and one grand prize winner will receive one copy of all eight of Julie’s novels: Lady of Milkweed Manor, The Apothecary’s Daughter, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, The Tutor’s Daughter, The Dancing Master, and The Secret of Pembrooke Park, one DVD of Northanger Abbey (2007) and a Jane Austen Action Figure.

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on The Secret of Pembrooke Park Blog Tour starting February 16, 2015 through 11:59 pm PT, March 9, 2015. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Julie Klassen’s website on March 16, 2015. Winners have until March 22, 2015 to claim their prize. The giveaway contest is open to residents of the US, UK, and Canada. Digital books will be sent through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Good luck to all!

Secret of Pembrooke blog tour horizontal bannerClick here for more details of the blog tour!

 

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Kim’s Review of A Match Made in Texas by Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Carol Cox

ammitSeveral months ago I read a book entitled Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer, the second book in her Archer Brothers series. (The first book was entitled Short-Straw Bride). I chatted back and forth via email with Witemeyer about how much I loved the Archer Brothers and that I hoped she had ideas for future stories about them. Imagine my glee when she responded that a short story about one of the brothers would be appearing in the anthology A Match Made in Texas. 

From Goodreads:

In the small town of Dry Gulch, Texas, a good-hearted busybody just can’t keep herself from surreptitiously trying to match up women in dire straits with men of good character she hopes can help them. How is she to know she’s also giving each couple a little nudge toward love?

A Cowboy Unmatched
Neill isn’t sure who hired him to repair Clara’s roof–he only knows Clara desperately needs his help. Can he convince this stubborn widow to let down her guard and take another chance on love?

An Unforeseen Match
Hoping to earn an honest wage on his way to the land rush, Clayton ends up on Grace’s doorstep, lured by a classified ad. He may have signed on for more than he expected though–and he may have found the one woman who can keep him from moving on.

No Match for Love
Andrew can’t fathom how refined Lucy ended up as the caretaker to his dotty aunt, and somehow her arrival has prompted even more bizarre occurrences around the ranch. When they join forces to unearth the truth, will the attraction between Andrew and Lucy develop into more?

Meeting Her Match
When the tables are turned and a tender-hearted meddler becomes the beneficiary of a matchmaking scheme, her world is turned upside down. As her entire life changes, will she finally be able to tell the banker’s son how much she cares for him?

I initially read this anthology JUST for Karen Witemeyer’s short story. In the end I was pleasantly introduced to three authors I’ve since added to my to-read list.

My favorite kind of anthology is one where all the stories are connected somehow. It creates the feeling that you’re reading a larger story, rather than several disconnected short stories. In the case of A Match Made in Texas, each author wrote about a character living in Dry Gulch, Texas. One of the four characters is a matchmaker who attempts to bring joy, happiness, and love to several of the women living in Dry Gulch. One woman is a pregnant widow who is being threatened by her former father-in-law over who will be raising her child. Another is a newly blind woman, struggling to face her new future. The final woman whom the matchmaker helps is a woman who is tricked into being the caretaker of an older woman many believe is going crazy in her old age. And our matchmaker? She longs for a man who is too shy to make a move.

The writing across the four authors is flawless; the stories flow effortlessly together while remaining individualized just enough to allow each author her moment in the spotlight. While I was initially drawn to this anthology to read Karen Witemeyer’s story A Cowboy Unmatched, I have to say it was Regina Jennings’ An Unforeseen Match that wound up being my favorite. A curmudgeonly hero and blind (!!!!!) heroine? Love it. If you’ve read any of my reviews of Tessa Dare’s books, you’ll know that flawed heroines are my absolute favorite because they are the types of women who don’t usually get a voice. How many romances are written around the flawless beauty? The smart successful woman who uses her hot body to get any man she wants? Where are the overweight women? The women that struggle to make ends meet? The women who most men would look past? Regina Jennings gets a huge high-five from me for writing Grace’s story, AND for writing a hero who was man enough to choose to love a blind woman. That cannot be an easy road for a sighted person to walk down.

The last two stories in the anthology, No Match for Love & Meeting Her Match, were a bit off the wall plot wise and definitely could have used a bit more story. Their plots could have worked (I think) if they were full length novels rather than novellas. In all, even though half of the stories were amazing and half were mediocre, I’d still recommend reading the entire book.

Fun characters, awesome authors, and intense loves make A Match Made in Texas an anthology you won’t want to miss.

4 out of 5 Stars

A Match Made in Texas by Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Carol Cox
Bethany House (2014)
Paperback: 384 pages
ISBN: 9780764211768

Special thanks to Bethany House for my review copy via Netgalley!