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?



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.

When I first began writing, I believed it was all about the writing technique.  Perhaps you still think the same thing.  I’ve now come to realize that, yes, the writing must stand on its own, but it’s my job to find it the legs to stand on.  I have read and reread many books on the subject.  I suggest starting here.

The Sell Your Novel Took Kit:
Everything You Need to Know About Queries, Synopses, Marketing, and Breaking In
By Elizabeth Lyon

         If you haven’t read any books yet on these topics, THIS is the book to read.  Although I have a 1997 edition, the information regarding these topics is the same then as now.  Obviously technology has advanced as is evidenced by her comments concerning going to the library to have them print information off the Internet for you.  That part made me smile!

          From the first chapter, Elizabeth Lyon hands you the tools you need to succeed, starting with “How Novels Get Sold”

                            1.   Insider Connections
                            2.   Celebrity Status
                            3.   Contest Winners
                            4.   Short Stories
                            5.   Writers’ conferences
                            6.   Self-Publication
                            7.   Slush-Pile Success
                            8.   Query Letters

From there, she takes the aspiring author through “Dissecting the Synopses”, “Studying the Synopses”, “Dissecting the Query”, “Successful Queries”, and “Researching Publishers and Agents”.  Many other chapters deal with other aspects of writing and publishing.  Get this book!