Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Dancing Master

The Dancing Master
Julie Klassen
Bethany House Publisher
January 7, 2014
Fiction, Historical, Romance

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.

Klassen is typically one of my very favorite authors and her books always go right to the top of my list. I'm sad to say I was disappointed in this book. It did not grab my attention right away and left me lagging through much of it. As characters both Julia and Alex were annoying to the point of ridiculousness. Alec lacked leadership and Julia was shallow. Yes, they did grow throughout, but unfortunately that growth couldn't recover a rocky start for both of them as characters. 

The whole dancing master thing may have been a bit of a weak platform for a main plot. I could see it doing well as a subplot but as a main plot it lacked intrigue. I typically appreciate Klassen's ability to bring to light lesser known occupations from the regency era but in this case the book was needing a bit less dancing and a little more story. 

There were bright spots in the book but they were few and far between. A disappointing performance from Klassen for the first time in her writing career. She has remained strong throughout and I'll eagerly jump for her next book as well with high hopes for a much less clunky read. 

My thanks to Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

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