The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen Review

One of Julie Klassen's most finely crafted Regency novels!
(c.) 2014 by Bethany House Publishers
Title: The Secret of Pembrooke Park*
Author: Julie Klassen
Published: 2014 by Bethany House Publishers
"Love without fear ..." Miss Foster murmured, considering the notion. "It doesn't sound very practical, I'm afraid.  For the more one loves, the more one has to fear losing."
He looked at her, a grin tugging at his mouth. "Impractical, maybe.  Difficult, yes.  But what a beautiful way to live ... You value practicality, I take it, Miss Foster?" (p.53)
Julie Klassen is one of my favorite Regency authors active today.  I've read and own every one of her novels (minus the previous year's, The Dancing Master).  That being said, I think The Secret of Pembrooke Park is one of her most finely crafted Regency romances, with an almost gothic-inspired mystery element that kept me reading until 3:00am to finish!

Historical details made me feel immersed in Abigail Foster's world and the romance was quite well done.  It was perfect for the CBA market but enough to keep readers' anticipation high for the payoff (first kiss!).  While practical, "plain jane" Abigail Foster's voice could have easily devolved into a pitying stereotype, instead Klassen's writing had me emphasizing with Abigail's insecurities, perhaps because they are similar to my own.  I was reminded, like Abigail, that we are treasured and valued in God's eyes.  Meanwhile, the hero is principled and charming (along with the rest of his family) though a couple other characters thrown into the mix made me briefly second guess who might end up together!

But one of the things I always enjoy about Julie Klassen's books is that they're never usually "just" a romance and they often have some sort of secret or mystery the protagonist is trying to figure out (or hide).  The Secret of Pembrooke Park is no exception.  From the manor itself, the suspicious disappearance of the Pembrooke family, to the reluctance of neighbors and the steward's family to speak of the past, there is so much going on in this story!  Astute readers may find their suspicions on what happened or who the mysterious letter sender is before the characters themselves, but that didn't stop me from turning the pages to see if I was correct!  The only thing I disliked was the conclusion to one character's story arc, though the character did attempt to make amends.

One interesting thing to note is that the different quotations I always enjoyed that began each chapter in many of Klassen's previous novels are absent.  (I'm not sure if The Dancing Master had this feature or not).  However, that doesn't detract from this wonderful tale as I didn't even realize it until I started to write this review!  Definitely a must-read for Julie Klassen fans and those who enjoy a good Regency!

About the Book: 
Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister.

Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play...

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem acquainted with the manor's past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.

This catches Abigail's attention. Hoping to restore her family's finances--and her dowry--Abigail looks for this supposed treasure. But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn't the only one secretly searching the house.

Then Abigail begins receiving anonymous letters, containing clues about the hidden room and startling discoveries about the past.

As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?
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 has won three Christy Awards in the Historical Romance category for The Silent Governess (2010), The Girl in the Gatehouse (2011), and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall (2012). Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. Learn more about Julie and her books on her website.

[Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in in exchange for an honest review, which I have done]

*Affiliate link, for more information, click here.

[Edit: Added a quote, summary, and author info]


  1. Now that is good quote my friend, like your review too, I enjoyed this story as well.
    Paula O

    1. Thanks, Paula! I loved the quote you chose to feature on your blog as well. =)

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful, wonderful review!

    1. Thank you for stopping by! I hope to get to "The Dancing Master" soon. =)

  3. I loved this book! It's definitely my favorite by Julie Klassen so far... I still have some of her earlier books to read :)

    1. You should definitely check out her earlier books! I think my favorite was the Apothecary's Daughter but they're all great. =)


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