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From the back cover
Miss Mariah Aubrey, banished after a scandal, hides herself away in a long-abandoned gatehouse on the far edge of a distant relative's estate. There, she supports herself and her loyal servant the only way she knows how--by writing novels in secret. Captain Matthew Bryant, returning to England successful and wealthy after the Napoleonic wars, leases an impressive estate from a cash-poor nobleman, determined to show the society beauty who once rejected him what a colossal mistake she made. When he discovers an old gatehouse on the property, he is immediately intrigued by its striking young inhabitant and sets out to uncover her identity, and her past. But the more he learns about her, the more he realizes he must distance himself. Falling in love with an outcast would ruin his well-laid plans. The old gatehouse holds secrets of its own. Can Mariah and Captain Bryant uncover them before the cunning heir to the estate buries them forever?

I’ve read two of Julie’s other books and enjoyed them. So when I saw this new release, I added it to my book club order list. It came last week, but with my schedule I wasn’t sure when I was going to get a chance to start reading. My chance came when we were hit with an unexpected snowstorm and received the day off from school. Although a to-do list a mile long screamed for attention, I decided to take some time off to read just for fun. And it was fun!

What struck you the best about the book?

Julie’s style of writing is relaxing and sophisticated. Her descriptions of setting, character, or clothing is just enough to paint a mental picture without boring the reader with incessant details.  For example: “Mariah descended in her aunt’s old riding habit of voluminous skirt, trim-fitting jacket with velvet collar, plumed hat, and short leather gloves.” The reader receives the necessary information without needing to know how many buttons are on the jacket, the kind of stitching on the hem of the skirt, or the texture of the hat.

What struck you the worst about the book?

I’m being picky about this, because I couldn’t find anything that struck me as bad. So I’ll go with something that is mildly annoying. In addition to the main plot, there are several subplots which necessitate secondary characters. Although I enjoyed the subplots, I found it confusing at times to keep all the minor characters straight. By the end of the book all the subplots are neatly woven into the main plot, so this is just a minor ripple.

How did the story make you feel?

From the very beginning, Mariah’s plight pulled on the heartstrings. Since I am a writer struggling to break into the world of novel writing, I easily relate to Mariah’s struggles with her writing. I sympathized with Captain Bryant as he struggles with plans to win back the woman he desires. Overall, the story comes to a very satisfying conclusion, leaving the reader content to know all the subplots have been satisfied.

What one biggest lesson, discovery, or new idea did you take away from the book?

Everyone needs to learn that God forgives and puts it behind Him. We are the ones who hang onto the guilt. God never intended us to cling to the past once we have made it right with Him. In the case of each of the major characters, they learned to forgive themselves and others.

This is an enjoyable read, woven together into a wonderful tapestry of life-lessons hidden in fiction.

What is your opinion? Have you read it? Does this sound like a book you will pick up to read?


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Biography

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. She is a fiction editor and novelist. Her book, The Silent Governess, won a 2010 Christy Award and was also a finalist in the Minnesota Book Awards, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards, and Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards. Julie is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She and her husband have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota. Visit www.julieklassen.com for more information.

 
 
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  The Convenient Groom by Denise Hunter is a contemporary tale of choices, mistakes, forgiveness, and love.  Kate Lawrence is a published author, a talk-show guest, and a highly sought-after marriage counselor.  Engaged to her perfect match as described by her book, she anticipates her wedding day which coincides with a boost to her career.  On that special day, her groom-to-be calls to back out.  Devastated at being jilted but more horrified at what it will do to her career, she reluctantly agrees to her handyman Lucas Wright's proposal to be the stand-in groom.
     With her career just barely glued together, Kate deals with the fact that she is in a fake marriage to someone who doesn't love her and who she doesn't love.  But if she can last just one year, she might be able to keep her career in tact. But with each passing day, the doubts of all she once believed to be true about love and marriage begin to crumble her resolve.  How can she keep going?
      Read The Convenient Groom to see how Denise weaves two lives together with threads from a torn-apart love.

 
 
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If you are looking for a good read this summer, pick up Colleen Coble’s Cry in the Night.  Although it is a continuation of her Rock Harbor series, it easily stands alone as a great Christian novel. Once again Colleen draws in the reader to become a part of the lives of her characters. Each character is real and believable.  By the time you finish the book, you feel as if you know these characters as next door neighbors.

      The storyline is well-crafted with a balance between just enough mystery to lure the reader into turning the page to see what happens next and finding answers to some questions. Bree Matthews is a search-and-rescue worker along with her dog Samson. Due to a plane crash, she was widowed. (Read more about what happened in the first book in the series Without A Trace.)  Her son Davy from her first marriage has accepted her new husband Kade, but begins to have nightmares about his biological father. When Bree finds an infant in the snow, she is drawn into what appears to be a kidnapping ring. Her longing for another child of her own is accentuated by her caring for the infant. The twists and turns of the plot come to an amazing conclusion for each of the main characters.

      I highly recommend Cry in the Night. It will make you want to read more from this fabulous author!