Back in the days when I was much younger and probably before there was a distinct genre known as Christian Fiction, I loved what was then called Gothic Romance novels. As the general market became filled with more and more content that I found offensive, I began to limit my reading to Christian fiction only and pretty much forgot how much I enjoyed those old Gothic novels. During the past year or so, I have been delighted to find a few authors who are writing books with that Gothic atmosphere but with clean plots and usually even a strong message of faith. “The Secret of Pembrooke Park” is one of those books and it surpassed all my expectations.
When Abigail Foster’s family suffers a financial setback, they are offered the opportunity to move to the manor of a distant family member. Feeling somewhat responsible for the financial loss, Abigail moves in to set things in order while her father takes care of business and her mother and sister remain in London to prepare for the season, hoping her sister will find a well-to-do husband. The mysterious manor has been abandoned for eighteen years and it appears that its residents left it suddenly, however no one in the area will even discuss what might have happened. Rumors of a secret room filled with treasures plus warnings about the former owner reach Abigail but most of her questions remain unanswered.
“The Secret of Pembrooke Park” is filled with mystery, suspense, secrets, a romantic triangle, and several surprises. The abandoned manor was the perfect setting for all the mysterious happenings. Although there were quite a few clues dropped during the course of the narrative, many of them could have pointed to more than one suspect so I was never quite certain who it was – at least until the actual revelation. I loved finding out what the true “treasure” was!
I enthusiastically recommend “The Secret of Pembrooke Park”, especially to those like me who enjoy Gothic romance. Julie Klassen is on my top 10 list and her books like this one have kept her there.
This book was provided for review by the Readers Only Group of the Book Club Network.
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 worked in publishing for sixteen years (first in advertising, then as a fiction editor) and now writes full time. Three of her books, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Silent Governess have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Maid of Fairbourne Hall and The Girl in the Gatehouse also won a Midwest Book Award and The Silent Governess was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s RITA awards.
She graduated from the University of Illinois and enjoys travel, research, BBC period dramas, long hikes, short naps, and coffee with friends. She and her husband have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota.