“The Dancing Master” by Julie Klassen



 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.

I have loved every Julie Klassen book to this date, which is why I was disappointed when the beginning of this one didn’t hold my attention.  There is mystery and drama from the very first page, so I’m not sure of the problem.  Was it the headache I was fighting?  Possibly, but after the initial swirl of suspense, the action slowed to a dribble while we became acquainted with each character and their story.
By the middle of the book, however, I was enthralled.  By this point you knew that there was far more to each character than meets the eye, and I couldn’t wait to figure out who did what.  I was cheering for Alec and his family and was flying through the pages to find out how this crazy situation would reach resolution.
Unlike most of my favorite books, I didn’t love Julia.  I thought I would, at first, but her manipulative ways didn’t endear her to me.  I’m not sure that I wouldn’t behave differently if put into the same situation, but, still … there you go.  Her maturation at the very end of the book helped, and I was definitely fascinated with her situation. 
It was the strength and determination of the other characters that made this book for me, character-wise, and the suspenseful way that Klassen played out the twenty-year-old mystery.  She completely nailed it in this one.  I’ve never seen an author delicately pluck mysterious threads in a way quite like this before – one that masterfully shows the hidden backstory of several major characters and of the area overall in distinct, slow, suspenseful ways.  
So while I enjoyed this story, and the suspense even more, Klassen revealed herself to be the true master here:  The Mystery Master.
Read other reviews in this bloggy hop here or purchase your own copy now.
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: http://julieklassen.com

I received a free copy of The Dancing Master from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review. 

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