The Secret of Pembrooke Park
by Julie Klassen (Goodreads Author)Julie Klassen Is the Top Name in Inspirational regency Romance
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?
My Review: 5/10
I had mixed feelings about this book. I really liked the setting, the nods to Jane Austen, and the mystery in general. The plot was very well done; I was very invested in unraveling it, and had no suspicions or theories as to true motives of any of the characters.
However, a lot of William's and Abigail's actions didn't sit well with me. I'm not an authority on 19th century propriety by any means, unless a solid love of Jane Austen's work and a tendency to immerse myself in regency period novels makes me an expert. But I just couldn't see a devoted man of the cloth or a well-bred lady doing the things that they did. I mean, Lydia Bennet would, but she brought shame down on anyone with a teaspoon's worth of sense. Frequently inviting a man into your bedchamber, being alone with said man in said bedchamber, coming upon a half naked man and then staying to chat, the super forward flirtatious remarks, the sensuous lingering touches- these are all commonplace and accepted today, but 200 years ago? Not so much. Definitely not without consequences. I was frequently disappointed in both of them. How often William risked her reputation. If he really cared for her and/or if he had integrity, he wouldn't have trifled with her, but would have taken the utmost care to treat her like a lady and preserve her good name.