Friday, December 26, 2014

"the secret of pembrooke park" by julie klassen

Intriguing mystery with a healthy dose of romance make The Secret of Pembrooke Park a novel that regency romance fans will embrace.

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?

For several years now, I've eagerly anticipated each of Julie Klassen's releases. I truly believe that no one writes better regency romance for the inspirational market than Klassen.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park is less focused on romance than I expected—it's mainly about Abigail's search for the truth regarding Pembrooke Park. The mystery is the driving force of the novel, and it's quite intriguing. Several of the revelations about Pembrooke Park took me completely by surprise, yet they made absolute sense.

The romance, while understated, is incredibly sweet. I especially liked that, rather than the typical love triangle where the heroine has to choose between the man who is obviously right for her and the man who is obviously wrong, Klassen gave Abigail two legitimate choices. While I was pulling for one man over the other, neither man was clearly better than the other—except that Abigail felt more strongly about one!

Now that I've finished reading this book, I see how the long setup enhanced the events in the last half of the book. As I was reading, however, I struggled to really engage with the story for the first 200 pages or so. (It clocks in at 456 pages, so it took me roughly half of the book to really get into it.) I'm very glad that I kept going, and my lack of interest in the beginning may have had nothing to do with the novel and more with the business of the season and my lack of concentration!

Overall, I greatly enjoyed The Secret of Pembrooke Park, and I'm sure regency lovers will, as well. 4 stars.

Buy the book.
Read an excerpt.
See my reviews of Klassen's The Dancing Master, The Tutor's Daughter, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, and The Apothecary's Daughter.

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 is a three-time Christy Award winner and a 2010 Midwest Book Award winner for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Learn more about Julie at

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Bethany House Publishers through its book reviewer program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. I do love a Julie Klassen novel. I like how you said it's not a typical love triangle. Sounds interesting. :)

    Ally @ The Scribbling Sprite

    1. I hope you get the chance to read it, Ally! It's really quite good--and yeah, the love triangle was refreshing :-)

  2. 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. I have some catching up to do as well--I didn't discover her until about three years ago. While The Tutor's Daughter is my favorite of the ones I've read, this one is right up there! Thanks for stopping by!


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