Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Dancing Master

Book Review

Julie Klassen has written another appealing historical romance called The Dancing Master, a novel set in 19th century rural England. Klassen is well educated in the art of ballroom dancing and her story documented the struggle of Alec Valcourt, the master of dancing. He had to begin a new life after losing his dance academy in London. The female protagonist is Julia Midwinter, a beautiful heiress who has coped with feelings of rejection.

In the beginning, I felt that this book moved slowly. The novel has 419 pages. However, soon I was caught up in trying to piece together a puzzle of loose ends, trying to guess how this tale would play out and I enjoyed that aspect of the book. The author has crafted an appealing cast of characters and in spite of Julia’s dislike of her rural home, I found myself thinking that the village of Beaworthy sounded like a wonderful place to live.

I respected Alec and was impressed with his perseverance as he carried on in spite of impossible odds. It was enjoyable to watch Julia mature into a caring young woman who realized that her heavenly father cared deeply for her. There were secondary characters that fleshed the story out and added much to the book. My heart went out to Julia’s adopted mother, Lady Amelia. The neighboring Allen family was delightful and the brother/sister duo, Aurora and Ben Thorne were a good addition. It felt good to see the community of Beaworthy join back together and function as a vibrant community.

The Dancing Master followed the format of a historical romance. The author has laid out a complicated plot that kept me reading. I enjoyed many things about the book – the setting, the characters, the mystery – and I do recommend it. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the book

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.

About the author

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. She is a three-time Christy Award winner and a 2010 Midwest Book Award winner for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

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