Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
TYPE OF NOVEL: Historical Fiction, Regency Romance
SETTING: Devonshire, England 1819
- Hannah Rogers: a former companion to Lady Mayfield who has just returned after leaving mysteriously six months ago. But due to a tragic carriage accident she now finds herself in a very conflicted situation.
- Lady Marianna Mayfield: a flirtatious married socialite who despises her husband and practices no discretion as she carries on with another man.
- Sir John Mayfield: a dejected and desperate husband who attempts to save his marriage by removing his wife swiftly and secretively from Bath to one of his other estates.
- James Lowden: Sir John’s newly appointed solicitor whose presence has been requested in Devonshire to make some alterations to Sir John’s will.
WHY I WANTED TO READ THIS NOVEL:
- Easy question – it’s by Julie Klassen! An author whose tastes in literature and proclivities for suspenseful intrigue and tender romance are in such perfect harmony with my own!
WHAT I LOVED:
- So Much Intrigue/So Many Twists: Probably one of the elements I love most about Julie Klassen’s writing is that she never gives you the whole story right away. Readers are introduced to characters and become familiar with their situations, but they don’t know about their pasts and what motivates their actions. I love the slow unraveling of each characters’ past, I’m always trying to figure it out beforehand! I also love how this novel had lots of surprises in store for the reader, I didn’t find the plot predictable and some twists caught me unawares! Not your typical and formulaic romantic story-line!
- Darker Themes and Heightened Sensuality: As I indicated above, this story is definitely more Brontësque then Austenesque. Our heroine is downtrodden and in a desperate situation, and the story includes: adultery, infidelity, deception, children born out-of-wedlock, passionate embraces, and sensual descriptions. This may surprise readers who are accustomed to Julie Klassen’s books being classified as Inspriational Romance/Christian Fiction. Although it does have an inspiring message about grace and forgiveness, Lady Maybe would not fit under that description. I thoroughly enjoyed the bleaker storyline and passionate nature of this book. (Note: this book was published by Berkley Books and not Bethany House, a publisher of Christian Fiction)
- Heart-Wrenching and Poignant Writing: No matter what the she writes, Ms. Klassen’s stories always hold me captive. The writing is beautiful, descriptive, and enthralling. Similar to when I reread Jane Eyre, my sympathies are fully engaged and cannot help but feel all the despair, doubt, and disappointment experienced by these characters.
- Loveable and Kind Souls: Some of the supporting characters really won my heart in this tale. I loved the sunny and affable Dr. Parrish, the motherly Mrs. Turrill, and sweet and innocent Becky.
WHAT I AM FEELING AMBIVALENT ABOUT:
- Caught Between Two Men: Our heroine has two men offering her affection and protection, and it is often hard to decipher the leanings of her heart. While love triangles can be very gripping and diverting to read about, I find it harder to enjoy them when both men are likable and the heroine continually wavers about her feelings. It puts into question who the real hero of the story is and the strength of the heroine’s love for him.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Some Small Quibbles: It felt like some character’s feelings for each other were based on nothing more than attraction or sympathy. I typically prefer stories where the love grows over time and is based more on character. With our unfortunate hero and heroine there is a lot of focus on deception and misdeeds, and less on their good qualities. I am sort of sad that the hero was more flawed than I first initially thought – two wrongs don’t make a right!
I applaud Julie Klassen for taking a step in a different direction with her novels, her talent and skill shine in whatever she writes! It was interesting to see her write more on the Brontë side of the spectrum. I await with eager anticipation her next novel, The Painter’s Daughter, scheduled to be released December 2015!
OTHER JULIE KLASSEN BOOKS I’VE READ AND REVIEWED