STARRED REVIEW
December 02, 2014

An estate of disorder

By Julie Klassen
There’s nothing like a Regency romance novel when you’re in need of proper manners, steaming cups of tea and English village intrigue. Julie Klassen delivers just that with The Secret of Pembrooke Park, a thought-provoking novel that explores the definition of treasure—in God’s eyes and in man’s.
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There is nothing like a Regency romance novel when you are in need of proper manners, steaming cups of tea and English village intrigue. Julie Klassen delivers just that with The Secret of Pembrooke Park, a thought-provoking novel that explores the definition of treasure—in God’s eyes and in man’s. Klassen has combined all kinds of reader-favorite elements in this mystery romance, including a grand estate, inscrutable villagers, a family tragedy and the first sweet buds of a love story.

Abigail Foster is partly to blame for her father’s investment misfortune, but she is determined to salvage something of a normal life for her parents and sister, Louisa, even if it means selling their home and moving elsewhere. A letter about a distant relative’s estate, Pembrooke Park, seems like a godsend, but it comes with several strange stipulations.

Abigail is the older sister, as well as the plain, practical one, and she is willing to face any challenge to keep her family happy. While her mother takes Louisa off to London for her first season, Abigail is left to organize the move to Pembrooke Park, where they must stay for at least a year with an already hired staff. It is an uncommon offer, but Abigail convinces her father to take it—even after learning the house has been left completely untouched for 18 years.

The mystery deepens upon arrival. Rumors of a hidden treasure in the house abound, and Abigail begins to receive strange letters from a woman recounting her own experience at the Park years before. Ominous noises, secretive staff and fleeting, hooded figures all add to the mystery and keep Abigail on her toes as she tries to uncover the truth behind her new home.

Complicating matters further is the presence of Will Chapman, the local curate and the son of a man who worked faithfully for Robert Pembrooke. Will is friendly and helpful, and he is just as interested in Abigail as she is in him. In the first weeks of the Fosters’ residence at Pembrooke Park, Abigail is drawn to the intriguing young man time and again. Yet Abigail remains focused on not only solving the mystery surrounding the house and its former residents, but also proving her worth to her family by finding the hidden treasure.

The result is a satisfying story that unfolds at a mild pace, giving Abigail plenty of time to reflect on the Bible lessons that Will imparts each week. Klassen’s message of the meaning of treasure is both sweet and valuable, especially for modern readers, and romance abounds among the many characters. The Secret of Pembrooke Park is a gem for Regency and inspirational readers alike.            

 

Amy Garvey is a freelance editor and the author of several romances and two novels for young adults. 

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The Secret of Pembrooke Park

The Secret of Pembrooke Park

By Julie Klassen
Bethany House
ISBN 9780764210716

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