"Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.
Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch’s daughter. Though he’s initially wary of Julia Midwinter’s reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul–and hidden sorrows of her own.
Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master–a man her mother would never approve of–but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec’s help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village…and to her mother’s tattered heart?
Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a 'good match' in Regency England."
The Dancing Master is an intriguing dance from beginning to end, with spins and flourishes and a few dips. I love that each of Klassen's books that I've read so far has been unique, drawing off of her passion for Jane Eyre and Jane Austen books, but sharing characters and themes that are very much her own. Her latest is a bit quirkier in some regards than her others, but the overall rhythm is enjoyable.
The hero and heroine - Alec and Julia - brought to mind Mr. Knightley and Emma from Jane Austen's Emma. (Well, at least the movie version with Gwyneth Paltrow, as I confess I haven't read the book.) Alec is very much an upstanding man, with a devotion to his family and a fondness for Julia, despite the need to correct her on occasion. Julia is often self-centered, craving attention and lacking a Mr. Woodhouse to shower her with a father's love. But she does have a dear friend who has quiet lessons to impart (with an apt name, I might add), and a vulnerable soul waiting to be understood and to come to terms with her need to give understanding in return. Just like with Emma, I confess to getting frustrated with Julia and loving Alec all the more for being such a dear and devoted gentleman.
Yet Klassen's unique twists make the story very different, as well. There's a large cast of characters, a good dose of mystery to lend a somber mood, and some perspective from Julia's mother to add more heart. Alec's fight to find a way to do what he loves, as well as the mother-daughter lessons, resonated with me.
I confess the quirkiness of the premise was at times off-putting or just a little strange to experience. And the ending... This is possibly spoiler-y, so beware, but the ending felt a bit like How the Grinch Stole Christmas to me. It's certainly cute (and goes along with the ending of the Emma movie, in the sense of wrapping up everything thoroughly), but it's also sort of jarring with its "dahoo dores," "everyone's happy now" sort of feel. It is clever, though, and fun, if a bit more whimsical like a storybook.
While perhaps not my favorite of Klassen's books that I've read with its village inhabitants and their interesting behaviors, The Dancing Master is still another great Austen-esque read.
*With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion, to be shared during the Litfuse Publicity blog tour.*
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane–Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She is a three-time Christy Award winner and a 2010 Midwest Book Award winner for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. Find out more about Julie at www.julieklassen.com.
To Buy the Book: click HERE
Blog Tour: Check out the reviews from other blog tour participants HERE. (My apologies for being a day late in posting my review!)
My Reviews of Other Klassen Books: The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, The Tutor's Daughter
Best-selling author Julie Klassen will be hosting a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway and a live webcast event (1/23) to celebrate the release of her latest novel, The Dancing Master. Enter and RSVP today!
One winner will receive:
- A Kindle Fire HDX
- The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen
So grab your copy of The Dancing Master and join Julie and friends on the evening of January 23rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)
Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!