Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Christian Fiction Review: The Secret of Pembrooke Park

The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen, December 1, 2014. 460 pages. Published by Bethany House Publishers. Source: publisher.
Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her--a longtime friend--has fallen for her younger, prettier sister.
When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, 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 to know something about the manor's past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family's financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?
First Sentence:
I sat across the table from the man I most admired, feeling self-conscious.

Oddly enough I accidentally requested this one for review. I thought I had clicked on the link to learn more about the book...not the request button. Either way of how The Secret of Pembrooke Park came to be in my hands it was something of a read...

I'll tell you this straight, this was definitely not the type of book that I would normally have picked up for my reading. I don't usually go for adult books. Let alone adult romances as those can be quite dangerous for ones eyes and mind to fall into.
    Out of the norm read aside, I was really enjoying this book till about page 150. So much so that it was feeling like a four griffin read, yet, the longer the book dragged on the lower my rating dived as I felt like the book was unnecessarily long. Really, everything could have been resolved in 250 pages and not the staggering 460 that it took to bring the story to a close. There were times that I was ready to walkaway and call it quits but curiosity won out and I pushed through to the end.

So, with The Secret of Pembrooke Park being longer than it needed to be why did I continue on even when my interest began to wain. Well, that was because I was curious if my theories were correct concerning the characters, the mystery and the overall endgame to the book. My curiosity is my biggest weakness when it comes to books because I like knowing how things end and if it could have gotten back to being a pretty interesting read.
    While the end was really predictable, I was happy for Abigail and the happiness she achieved, of which she was most deserving. Mainly, my hope for dear Abigail was that she would see her self-worth and not let herself be pushed aside for her sister or anyone else. It pained me to watch her be unhappy and unsure of where her heart lied. While she was smart, she had the tendency to be quite dimwitted about certain things-like whom she held in esteem.

Writing-wise, I thought Julie Klassen did a good job weaving mystery into Regency-era England and with creating some memorable characters. Even though The Secret of Pembrooke Park's mystery was dragged out a little too long, I enjoyed the mystery aspect best because it added something to the story that kept it from being a straight up romance. If it were all romance and no mystery, I probably would not have gotten past fifty pages.

With The Secret of Pembrooke Park not being my usual type of book, I was willing to give it more of a chance than usual because I wanted to see what it had to offer. While it was definitely longer than need be, I found myself enjoying the setting and time period that Ms. Klassen set the book. I thought she did a wonderful job capturing the feel of Regency England, as well, as the way the people in the small area interacted with one another. Yet, in the end it was the thrill of the mystery and my need to solve it that really kept me reading on. I really enjoyed the way the mystery slowly unfolded throughout the book and how things were resolved. Even though I figured it out quite early on, maybe before the mid-way point, I thought it was well done.

Final Verdict: The Secret of Pembrooke Park- While a little on the long side, it was an interesting read with a beautiful setting. Definitely worth checking out if you like Regency-era England novels mixed with (clean) romance and mystery.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park earns

this book was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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