Monday, January 20, 2014

Litfuse Blog Tour: The Dancing Master

The Dancing MasterAuthor: Julie Klassen
Publication Date: January 1, 2014
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

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.

“No, not only on Sabbath,” Uncle Ramsay said, “Dancing is not allowed here in general.”

On his first full day in Devonshire, Alec Valcourt left the village church still seeing Julia Midwinter’s lovely face in his mind. She was beautiful, yes. And she knew it. She reminded him of too many spoiled young ladies he had met who enjoyed flirting – practicing both their seduction and dance skills with him, but only in hopes of snaring a more suitable gentleman in future.

Time to gird up your loins, Valcourt, he told himself. You can do this.

Julie Klassen is on my must read list; she is just one of those authors that when I find she has written and released a new book I am all over it! This book did not let me down. It will be placed right alongside her other books on my shelf. This story is told from the point of view of three different characters: Alec Valcourt, the dancing master, Julia Midwinter, and her mother Amelia Midwinter. When Alec moves to the small town of Devonshire, in hopes of finding new employment, he is shocked and completely dismayed to learn that dancing, his profession, is outlawed in this small town. Alec is soon hired on, to work in their lovely estate, by Mrs. Amelia Midwinter, the woman who is responsible for the outlawing of dancing. Alec quickly becomes introduced to Julia, and together these two break the rules and devise a plan to bring life and magic back to the lonely little town.

I was so glad that Klassen incorporated so much of Alec’s life, background, and point of view in the story. I did appreciate him more as a character than Julia. I found myself thinking how selfish she came off at times, but I knew that Alec would be just the person to soften her. The way that Alec was written made me cling to his character and root for his ambitions and dreams all throughout the book. I liked seeing him interact with the Midwinters and I especially loved his reaction to the law of “No Dancing.” I thought he was a noble man for taking such good care of his mother and sister. Small actions like these say more for a character than words do.

Do not worry. Change came over Julia and her mother, Amelia in more ways than one. From the start of the book I was hoping for a change for both of their hearts, and of course Klassen doesn’t disappoint. Julia did a lot of maturing and growing up by the end of the book and that was very refreshing to see. Amelia Midwinter is full of hurt and anguish and this is apparent very early on in the book. It was so nice to see the thick layer of ice around her heart melted away!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Bethany House and Litfuse in exchange for my honest review***

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