Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen

Happy Wednesday everyone! I am so excited to be reviewing this book for you, as I am a huge fan of Julie Klassen's books! I have read several of her books including The Tutor's Daughter, The Girl In The Gatehouse, The Apothecary's Daughter, and Lady of Milkweed Manor and loved them all. I was pleased when I was selected to review The Dancing Master by Bethany House Publishers, as you can well imagine! 

OverviewFinding 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 Review: It is very rare to read a book of this type from the man's point of view. Most of The Dancing Master is written from Alec's point of view, and I like it that way. Alec Valcourt is trying to all he can to provide for his family.  Upon arriving in Beaworthy, he discovers his dreams for starting over as a dancing master in a new town are not going to be easily fulfilled   Throughout the story, we witness his struggle to feel worthy and accept the help of the One who created him.  Julia Midwinter is the beautiful daughter of Lady Amelia Midwinter. She is reckless  flirtatious, and vulnerable. At the beginning of the story, I didn't like her. As I dove into the book, however, I began to understand her actions (though I didn't agree with them) and could relate to her feelings.
The plot wasn't exciting or adventurous  but it was interesting all the same. The mystery surrounding Lady Amelia and Julia's past was very well written. I didn't have any clue what the outcome would be until later in the book.  The romance between Julia and Alec was also very well written. I didn't feel like it was rushed, as the book's plot takes place over several months, so I felt proper time was given for the romance to develop.  
The message of the story was clear, and aimed at Julia.  All of us are searching for something to fill the void in our lives left by whatever tragic (or not tragic) circumstances we find ourselves in. The only one who can fill that void is the Heavenly Father who vows to love you and never leave your side. It was so neat to read Julia's progression from disbelief to final acceptance.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It was exactly the type of story I've come to expect from Ms. Klassen.
**I received this book for free as part of Bethany House Publisher's blogger program in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.**
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