Tuesday, January 7, 2014
'The Dancing Master' by Julie Klassen
Leaving London, dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire--but is stunned to discover that dancing is prohibited! He finds an unlikely ally in Miss Julia Midwinter, but her questions about his past are becoming harder to evade. Together, can they bring new life to this quiet village--and heal long-kept-secret scars?
A scandal rocks Alec Valcourt's family. He and his mother and sister are forced to move in with his penny-pinching uncle. Alec expects to resume his occupation of dancing and fencing master in this new town, Beasworthy, but his efforts are doomed. The town noblewoman, Lady Amelia Midwinter, has prohibited dancing long ago, and there's enough of the feudal system left in eighteenth century country towns that others will go along with her.
Lady Amelia's daughter, Julia, is a lively girl and a bit of a flirt. She doesn't know that this year, she and Alec are going to discover the twenty-year-old secret which explains why dancing has fallen out of favour. It involves several members of her family, not to mention herself.
I've got to be honest and admit that, in spite of its fairy-tale sounding premise, this isn't my favourite Julie Klassen novel. I did like Alec, with his strong work ethic and sense of family responsibility. However, something about him seemed to be lacking for a hero. He didn't have the daring heroism of Henry in 'The Tutor's Daughter' or the cute smartness of Francis in 'The Apothecary's Daughter.' Even the heroine, Julia, kept thinking of him as a bit of a dandy, even after she fell for him.
Perhaps it's because, at heart, this book is more about the older generation than Alec and Julia's age group. Even though the snippets of their romance were promising, I did think Klassen could have revved it up another notch or two. Lots of potential seemed to go begging.
Still, it was a fun read just the same. For ballroom dancing enthusiasts, it would be great, often delving right into the intricacies of the steps and execution. I'm glad we have Julie Klassen. With Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters long gone, I appreciate it that someone has taken up their mantle and put in the meticulous research, to make these stories so authentic.
I received a copy from NetGalley and Bethany House in return for an honest review.
Dancing Master, The available from Amazon