Friday, January 25, 2013

"The Tutor's Daughter" Review

Following the death of her mother, Emma Smallwood has spent the past few years watching her father – and his academy for boys – decline to the point of not being able to recover. When her father receives an opportunity to personally tutor the two younger sons of a baronet in Cornwall, she is surprised to discover that her father is interested – and even more surprised when he asks her to accompany him for the year.

But almost the moment Emma and her father arrive, mysterious things begin happening in the grand manor house. Who plays the pianoforte at night, and is there actually someone who is sneaking in Emma’s room and leaving threatening messages?

The two oldest sons of the baronet, Henry and Phillip, remember Emma from the days when they attended Mr. Smallwood’s academy, but one of them is not prepared to discover that he is still drawn to her.

As the days go by, Emma must try to figure out what is happening in the strange house and who to trust with her heart.

After reading and enjoying Julie Klassen’s The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, I was excited to get this latest book from her for review.

The things that I liked most about this novel were things that felt similar to other books/authors that I like. The suspense – that was sometimes downright chilling – brought to mind the mysteriousness of Jane Eyre, especially relating to all of the strange things that are happening at this old manor house. Another thing was that the mystery and sheer conspiracy that seemed to be going on felt very much like an Agatha Christie novel. Both of these elements made the storyline have so much more depth than your average historical romance.

Something else that added depth to the novel was the setting. The descriptions of Cornwall and the coast where this manor was located were excellent and made me feel as if I was right there with Emma. The historical detail in this novel was very rich, and the writing was excellent, which also lent to my overall enjoyment of the story.

The spiritual aspect to this story, however, was somewhat disappointing to me. There was some mention of God and faith, but it almost seemed to be an afterthought to the rest of the story. Too many times it seemed as if the spiritual discussions missed the element of Christ dying for our sins. More mature and deeper elements of spiritual growth and faith in Christ would have added much more to the story for me.

As for the romance side of things, I enjoyed it from Henry’s point of view as well as the romantic notions of some of the secondary characters. From Emma’s side, I had a harder time believing in her journey to love. This could be because I didn’t really connect with Emma as a main character overall, so her side of the romance was a bit lacking. Emma was so presumptuous of how she thought Henry felt, and I get tired of this happening in romance books, especially from the female perspective.

Even though I didn’t completely connect with Emma as a character, I did enjoy the secondary characters in this book. They were very well done and gave this novel depth and made it more enjoyable overall. While I felt that the novel dragged somewhat towards the middle, the ending of this book was very exciting and satisfactory.

Julie Klassen stays true to the Regency Period of historical fiction and once again delivers an excellent novel to the genre.

I will give The Tutor's Daughter ... 4 BookWorms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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