The Valcourt family has had to flee London in the wake of a tremendous scandal. With nowhere else to go, Alec Valcourt brings his mother and sister, Aurora, to the small village of Beaworthy to live with their Uncle Ramsey. Alec is a dancing and fencing master, like his father and grandfather before him, but only after they arrive does Alec then discovers that dancing has been banned by the local village matriarch.
Ok, I know I’m going to be in the minority here, but I have to say, in my opinion, this is not Julie Klassen’s best work.
There were several things in this book that I had problems and the two main characters being the biggest of them. Alex Valcourt just wasn’t any kind of hero. With no money and needing to support his sister and mother, he refuses to do any work that will get his hands dirty. He insists that the only way he will earn any money is teaching dancing and fencing. For lack of a better tem, this guy needed to “man up” and do what was necessary to feed his family. By refusing to do anything except what he wanted to do, made him come across as selfish and cold.
Julie Midwinter, the village matriarch’s daughter, entered onto the scene as a spoiled rebellious girl with little respect for anyone and unfortunately she stays that way throughout most of the book. Oh there was a bit of a change in her by the end, but I’m sorry to say by then it was just too late for me.
I do have to say that the only character that really caught my interest was the blacksmith’s son. For spoiler reasons, I won’t name him, but I thought he was fascinating. I wish he had had a bigger part in the overall story.
The story itself was interesting. There was wonderful detail in the description of the characters and giving us an overall picture of the village and surrounding landscape, but I would have like have seen the plot move faster. It seemed to plod and drag in to many places and there didn’t seem to be too much that caught my attention enough to keep reading. In fact I was able to put the book down several times to read other things and I had a hard to picking it back up again.
There was one thing that I kept questioning in the story. Although dancing was forbidden, fencing was not, yet Alec insisted that it be a fencing and dancing school. So why not just teach fencing? To me it seemed a logical solution to Alec problems.
At the end of day, this book is not for everyone. Some will love it, others will like it, but to be honest, this particular book just really isn’t my cup of tea and after reading the back cover if this was written by any other author but Julie Klassen, I would have passed it up.
I loved the story but, I have only one criticism of the font(print or type) being so small that it was extremely difficult to read. It would have been better if the book was published as two books or more and the font(print or type) was bigger. Keep writing the books!
Wonderfully told story of not one, but two dancing masters in the small town of Beauworthy, As the story opens, all gaiety and life has disappeared from the town upon the decree of the town's patroness, Lady Amelia Midwinter. Due to hidden issues from her past, she has forbidden dancing and anyone who violates that order suffers socially and economically. Enter Alec Valcourt and his mother and sister, who have come from London. Alec's one ability and skill lies in being a dancing master along with the fencing skills that accompany that profession.He and his family are ostracized by the townspeople until Lady Amelia takes Alec under her employ, with the hope of keeping him away from his learned profession. Unfortunately for Lady Amelia's plans, this brings Alec in close proximity with her daughter, Julia, who is quite headstrong and flirtatious.
A couple of songs come to mind as I read this book. One applies to Julia. "Looking for love in all the wrong places." Desperate for a father's love, when she cannot attain that, she will accept male attention wherever she can find it. Will she ever find the true love of the only Father who can satisfy? Then there is the song with the line, "Honesty, is all I ever asked of You." How that apples to Amelia and her relationship with Julia. It also could apply to Alec, to Amelia's sister, and maybe one or two others. What a different course the story would have taken with some characters exhibiting this much needed trait!
Do we, the readers, see where the story is going? Of course. But the fun is in the reading and seeing how the author gets us there, what scenery we pass. And the "scenery" in this book is fantastic!!
One last question: to whom does the title of the book REALLY refer? I love it!
I have never read a book by Julie Klassen, but I enjoyed this first read. I found the history of dancing to be quite interesting and felt that Klassen did an excellent job researching and detailing each step of each dance. I am sure that was not easy to detail, and I appreciated her attempt to make the dances come alive.
I think it was probably a typical Christian romance novel, but it did seem like there were more possible connections than simply Alec and Julia. In many novels, it seems like there are a lack of potential suitors or interesting women. I appreciated the author creating more appealing characters.
I was a little disappointed in the abrupt ending, though. It seemed as though the author just got tired of writing and decided to wrap up the story in a neat package. I would have liked to see a little more development of the ending.
Overall, I felt like this was a decent read, and I look forward to reading some more of this author's work.
*This book was provided to me by Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinion.
This was one of those books that had me from the start. I seriously couldn’t put it down, and kept going till I had finished all 419 pages! (It’s a long book, but it’s seriously THAT good!)
The story is about a dancing master, Alec Valcourt, who moved from London to Devonshire with his mother and sister to “start over”. Problem is that the town he moved to had prohibited all dancing because of the town matriarch, Lady Amelia Midwinter. That was definitely not a good day for him, when he learned about the prohibition! Fortunately for Alec, the feeling doesn’t run in the family, and he finds both a friend and a somewhat unlikely ally in Lady Midwinter’s daughter, Julia (who enjoys things that are daring and against the way her mother wants them to be!). Together, they build a friendship, and change a lot about the ways things are done in their community. Not just the “rules” everyone observes, but the relationships people have with each other too.
The book is filled with unexpected things, unlikely friendships, and connections that you never saw coming, but the ending was somewhat predictable. While the ending may have been expected, the way they got there definitely wasn’t. I appreciated that the book wasn’t just a work of fiction that could be considered “mindless reading”, but it really, really made you think. It wasn’t just about dancing, rules, and traditions… it also included two different stories of redemption, and they were beautifully written.
Completely not related to anything in the book, but related to the cover – the back cover gives the normal description of the story, and underneath that, it gives praise for the book. That may sound normal, but what struck me as strange was how the praise wasn’t for this book – it was for another one of the author’s books. I actually thought I might be going crazy as I read that, so I pulled a few books off my bookshelf to make sure, but I was right – books do typically have praise for that book… not another one. I’m not sure if the praise is for this book and just lists the wrong book, but it does fit. Still, I thought that was strange.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.
Julia Midwinter's youth and vitality often stand in opposition to her mother's rules. As village matriarch, Julia's mother has prohibited all forms of dancing. This seemingly harsh rule is shrouded in family secrets, including the deaths of Julia's aunt and uncle. By natural curiosity and rebellion, Julia is drawn to Alec Valcourt, the newly arrived dancing master from London. However, Alec's past also proves dark and messy and he's certainly not the type of man Julia's mother would approve of. Will Alec and Julia both discover the truths about their pasts so that they can embrace the future with hope? Read more in The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen.
The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen is a stand-alone novel set in early nineteenth century England. The mystery of Julia's past hooked my attention and kept me wondering how all the people and events fit together. For me, this is what kept the story flowing as I didn't find the characters as captivating as I expected. By the author's intention, I suspect, Julia's character was hard to like in the beginning. However, even after Julia's internal motivations became more clear and she began to develop as a character, I still found it difficult to like her. Lastly, someone mentioned to me that it sounds like a take-off of Footloose. However, I've never seen the movie, so I can't really speak that. I don't discourage anyone from reading the book, but I do recommend borrowing from the library before purchasing.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
This is another wonderful novel by Julie Klassen and I haven't found one yet that hasn't been delightful! She has written another classic, one I am sure you will want to keep and read again. Filled with all the drama and insights of character, love, pride, relationships, forgiveness, faith and more.
Mr. Valcourt, handsome, once successful dancing master with secrets to hide meets spirited and willful Julia Midwinter whose mother strikes fear into every townsperson who dares dance - because of tragedy and loss twenty years in the past that she won't forgive and forget. I will say that this is a story that lures you in, giving you hints at the mysterious past of several characters and how these secrets affect many in the now. By chapter seven, you should be hooked and have enough hints that you are starting to piece parts of the puzzle together. This only brings the story more to life and lends excitement, as you eagerly anticipate seeing how things will unfold and work out. This book still contained the mystery and well-thought out plots, like the other Klassen books. It is like Julie Klassen gently pulls a shoe string and reveals just what we need to know when we need to know it. It is never a hurried or rushed pace, but leaves the reader wanting to know more with each page read. The story is well written with delightful characters. Julia somewhat reminds me of Scarlett O'Hara. She is willful, selfish, spoiled and quiet the flirt. However, there is more to her than that; she is also a loyal, brave young woman, who longs for approval and love. She definitely keeps the story interesting!
For fans of Julie Klassen this is sure to be a delight and for those that have never read one of Julie Klassen's novels, this is a good one to start with. If you like Jane Austen novels, then you should pick this one up!
I received a copy of The Dancing Master from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.
Delightfully packed with mystery and romance! And one of the best things is that all of this is set in a place reminiscent of Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte. And one special little touch…I checked on the back cover and there was Pemberley, from the 1995 Pride and Prejudice! That may or may not have made my day just a little bit. So cool. Anyway, the heroine was sweet yet spicy – a delightful combination. And I mentioned that it’s packed with mystery – you will have trouble putting this book down! The words that Julie chose to use are perfect for the setting – I was impressed. This book is all-around a delightful read that I recommend for Regency lovers! **Bethany House Publishers sent me this book in return for my honest review. All opinions and thoughts are my own. I was not recompensed for this review, or forced to post positively.**
I had high hopes for this novel and perhaps high expectations. I enjoyed the plot and there was some mystery involving the ban on dancing that was revealed in bits and pieces throughout. I had a hard time relating to Julia, and I found myself wanting to know more about several of the secondary characters who had the potential to be more interesting than the main characters- their friends and peers who seemed to be there for convenience, but not developed. I didn't feel any romantic chemistry between Alec and Julia- they made better friends in my opinion.
The Dancing Master is a historical romance based in late 1800's England. A small town no longer allows dancing and its history as to why is quite mysterious to the new Dance Master that has just moved into town. As he tries to make a new life for himself he finds new friendships and perhaps love along the way. I enjoyed the excerpts from real Newspaper clippings that were at the head of each chapter. I love the true historical perspective is woven throughout the novel. This is a good historical fiction novel and I enjoyed reading it.
I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in Exchange for my review.
When Alec Valcourt moves his Mother and Sister from London to Beaworthy England there are more surprises in store than he would have thought. Being a Dancing Master he runs into trouble when he finds out the village matriarch had prohibited dancing years ago. But determined to care for his Mother and Sister he must figure something out. And he finds a unlikely ally Julia, the matriarch's daughter. At first he is wary of her reckless flirtation, but finds her bold way of acting may be to hide her own sorrows and vulnerable soul. Julia Midwinter has grown up in a world without dancing or going to London like other girls her age. And is tried of being trapped in the little village of Beaworthy. When she meets the new family who has moved to Beaworthy she is quickly attracted to Alec. But with him not being in the same upper class as her family, and a Dancing Master no less, her Mother would not approve of someone like him. But will secrets from his past catch up with him and mess up his future? And what other things may be revealed that have been hidden in Beaworthy history for years. The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen is a wonderful book! I love Historical Fiction and this was another great one. It took place back in the early 1800's and sounded very real. It has a great story and had a lot of mystery! I was happily surprised with how much mystery was in the story, I was not expecting so much and really enjoyed it. Julie Klassen did a wonderful job on this book and I would love to read some of her other books as well!
I received this book free from Bethany House for my honest review. The opinions are my own.
Unfortunate circumstances prompt dancing master Alex Valcourt to move from London to Beaworthy in the fall of 1816. After moving, Alex learns there is a ban on dancing in the small village. To support his mother and sister, he reluctantly secures a position as clerk for Lady Amelia Midwinter.
Julia Midwinter is restless. She prefers horseback riding and flirting with young men to fitting into polite society. Lady Amelia has high expectations for her, as Julia is the sole heir to the Midwinter estate.
Alex’s and Julia’s paths intersect more than Lady Amelia would like and the two become friends. As they both wrestle with new discoveries, Alex learns his past may affect his future. Julia finds her heritage contains unexpected fragments.
The Dancing Master is a tale of friendships and secrets that held my attention from the start. I found myself nestled within the story, enjoying the characters while trying to solve the mysteries within.
This story is a masterful example, in my opinion, of what good historical fiction should be. From a reader’s standpoint, I enjoyed it tremendously. From a writer’s perspective, I learned from and appreciated the depth of characters and the flow and layers of the plot.
Klassen’s flair for realistic characters, engaging storyline, and rich detail rests on every page. The Dancing Master is a dance, an exquisite, perfectly timed tale of mystery, love, redemption, and forgiveness. It is one of the few books that I’d consider reading again someday.
Solid Five Stars on this beautifully written story by Julie Klassen who already has a number of awards under her belt, including a few Christy awards. I normally read my books by listening to audiobooks but that frequently means that I have to wait several months until a book has released. I began reading this book as a NetGalley download, because I didn't want to wait. But when there were too many errors for me to be able to easily read the book on Kindle (a Net Galley problem that should get resolved) I let the author know about the problem and she assisted me in obtaining a paperback copy from the publisher, in advance of release. I am not required to give a positive review and my opinions are my own.
Julia is an impetuous young woman, in Regency England immediately after the War of 1812, being raised as Lady Amelia's daughter. When a handsome young dance master, Alec, arrives in the small village, Julia's world changes. Nice character arc for Julia as she transforms, over the course of the book, from a rebellious bratty young woman (she's adopted and this is part of her issue) into a young lady comfortable in her own skin. Just when I was wondering where Ms. Klassen was going with the spiritual arc, if anywhere, she zoomed in with a lovely resolution. This is a Christian historical romance and readers should know that it is. In particular, the very end of the book has a lovely resolution to all the faith issues in the book.
I read this 400 page book in about 2 1/2 days because I couldn't put it down, it was so good!
I don't know if I've said before, but I do not read historical fiction. I do not read Regency romance. I do not read Christian historical fiction or Regency romance. It is just not my thing. But there is just something about Julie Klassen and her books. I've read every. single. one. of her books, and I've loved every single one of them. The Dancing Master was no exception.
Julia is the daughter of the town's matriarch. She finds her mother to be strict, oppressive, and hiding way too many secrets for Julia's liking. Julia lashes out by being rebellious and reckless, and flirting with any man she can, trying to find someone who will take her away from this horrid place. Alec has moved to the tiny town of Beaworthy with his mother and sister when they were driven out of London by scandal. Except, he is a dancing master...and dancing is forbidden. Forbidden by none other than Julia Midwinter's mother, twenty years ago.
I will say, Julia is probably one of my least favorite main characters, out of all Klassen's novels. She was immature, reckless, spoiled, and bratty. She refused to listen to anyone, belittled her mother for petty reasons, and was all-around pretty selfish. She complains about how her life wasn't as perfect as it seemed, but it mainly seemed so because she made it that way, because she wanted people's attention. She seemed like a petulant child for most of the novel, even though she's older than most characters you might usually see in this position (19). That said, she wasn't a deal breaker for the book. I suppose all of it was necessary to show just how much she changes by the end of the book. (In my opinion, not much.)
Because of this, I couldn't ever really figure out why Alec liked her so much. Alec himself wasn't too bad. I'll admit, he wasn't the most swoonworthy of Klassen's male lead characters, but he was noble. He was sweet and charming, although he could be a bit stuck-up, when it came to manual labor and such. (He's a gentleman after all.)
I did love the secondary characters a lot. Patience, James, and Walter Allen were among my favorites. (I want a book about one of them. I don't care which, just one of the Allen's.) I loved the friendship between them and Alec and Julia. I also loved how they were as a family, their parents included. I liked Ben and Tess Thorne and all the other townspeople. And of course, Alec's mother, and sister Aurora. Some of them weren't the most developed secondary characters I've ever read, but they were a lot of fun and kept a smile on my face.
Lady Amelia, Julia's mother, was one of my favorites. I very much enjoyed the small scenes from her POV, as well as the flashbacks. They taught us so much more about the story. They also showed us that she isn't some overbearing, crazy strict mother as Julia would have us believe. She's been hurt by Julia nearly as much as Julia's been hurt by her. Not to mention, all the other hurt she's experienced in her life. Her and Julia may not act in the best way about their feelings, which is partially responsible for all the hurt that keeps piling up, but they eventually see the error of their ways and start fixing things between them.
The plot itself was also very much well-written. The book is slightly long, and in places seemed to drag, but other than that, it was great. The secrets and mysteries surrounding the characters will keep you guessing. Although some of the "twists" were predictable, that didn't take away (much) when you actually found out the truth. And there are some twists that you won't see coming, that will not go as you thought it would.
I will say, the religious aspect of this was sort of non-existent most of the way through, and then it was just...there. Slightly awkward placing, almost randomly. I feel that for it to have been more effective, it should have been immersed throughout the entire book.
Even with its few faults, I loved this book just like all her other ones, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is loves historical or Regency romances, clean romance, or Christian romances.
One of my favorite authors is Julie Klassen. I love watching movies and reading books about this time period so I eagerly awaited the release of this book. Sadly, it was not my favorite. Unlike other novels by Julie Klassen, this book I could easily put down. She does a wonderful job painting the environment of the time period and is a seasoned writer; I was just unable to get attached to the characters. I would recommend starting with this book and then reading her other books. The cover art is beautiful and the book is a great read for Jane Austin fans.
I give this book a score of 3 out of 5 stars.
I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.
This is the fourth book by Julie Klassen that I have read. I consider her one of my favorite authors and I have high expectations for her novels because I know how good they can be. Unfortunately, this novel was a disappointment. It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t as good as the others I have read. I would give this book 3.5 stars, but because she is a favorite author of mine I rounded up and gave the book a 4. The title is “The Dancing Master” and that’s who I felt the book was about. The impression that I had from the book is that it was mostly about Alec and his struggles moving into the new town. The book was also from Julia’s perspective and we read about her problems as well, but I felt that it wasn’t the main point of the book. I also thought it would be more of a romance novel, but it wasn’t. There was a love story in the book, but it wasn’t the main theme in the book. That is ok and some readers may prefer to read a novel with a little less romance, but I wish it had a bit more. There were a few twists in the book, which is one of the things I love about Klassen’s writing. The dancing issues weren’t as interesting to me, which is probably another reason why I didn’t give the book 5 stars. Everyone has his or her own preferences and likes and dislikes. This book just didn’t do it for me. I would still recommend it to Julie Klassen fans. If you are a new Julie Klassen reader I would recommend reading one of her other novels first. Again, this isn’t a bad book; it just isn’t one of Klassen’s best in my opinion.
I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.
Alex Valcourt, dancing master by profession, arrives in a small town that prohibits dancing. He must find a way to support his family, but what other profession is he trained for? Julia Midwinter fancies the new dancing master, but is it because she is lonely, trying to fill a void left by her unloving father, or something else? Julia unearths some disturbing information about her past and confronts her mother, questioning whether this information is true or not. Julia is met with evasions and continues to dig deeper, but will she like what she discovers? I didn’t really like the main female character as she seemed vain, selfish and manipulative. She never seemed to realize that she wasn’t the focus of the world. Her mother in the story also seemed cold and distant. The story could have been shortened by 50 pages or so by eliminating all the waiting to find out the answers to Julia’s questions. The long wait between questions and answers didn’t serve as a tension builder for me, but rather as an irritation. With the negatives out of the way, I did like the lead male characters. He was willing to give up his dreams to take a job he didn’t want in order to support his mother and sister. He honorably took the blame for his father’s ruinous deeds in order to spare his mother further humiliation. I also liked the supporting characters of the Allen brothers and Desmond and their willingness to stand up for their friend at the potential cost of injury to themselves. Mrs. Tickle’s generosity, Mr. and Mrs. Desmond’s cheekiness and Barlow’s affection for Julia helped to make the story more interesting.
Another great book by Julie Klassen! I've read a few of her books now and this is her newest one.
I loved how when the book starts out the main character, Julia, is protrayed as a spoiled rich girl. However, as you read more and more you find out some much more about her. Alec comes to town to start a dancing and fencing school, only to discover that dancing has been outlawed in this town for some time! But why??? That question slowly gets answered throughout the story. There is a character introduced early on that has an air of mystery about him. Who is? What is doing in the town? Does he have anything to do with why dancing is outlawed?
I enjoyed how Ms. Klassen introduced each of her characters and then slowly throughout the story let you know a little more about them. The mystery going on through the story keeps you wanting to read for me and leaves you routing for some of the main characters! I also enjoyed the romance in the story between not just one set of characters and the complications that there can be between two people who are of different social standings.
I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers for purpose of this review, I was not required to write a positive review, the opinions I have expressed are my own.
The Dancing Master is the first book by Julie Klassen that I have read. I thoroughly enjoyed this peek into Regency England. I love historical fiction and this is one of the eras that I especially enjoy reading about.
The setting is a quaint, little town named Beaworthy. Julia Midwinter and Alec Valcourt are the main characters. Alec has relocated to Beaworthy with his mother and sister after some sort of scandal has obviously forced them out of London. He plans to open a dancing and fencing school in Beaworthy. But therein lies a problem. Dancing is no longer tolerated in this little town.
Julia could be viewed as a spoiled little rich girl at the beginning of the novel. I suppose this would be accurate, however, I actually still liked Julia, even when she was acting out. I felt so sorry for the hurt she internalized from a father who didn’t want anything to do with her. Her acting out and flirting made sense to me when looked upon with the knowledge of this insecurity she carried around with her.
The author did such a wonderful job of creating deep and interesting characters. I really enjoyed the flashbacks in the book. In these scenes, we have the opportunity to see the past through Julia’s mother’s eyes as it is happening. It opens little windows into the story and hints at the underlying scandals that rocked their family.
The Dancing Master is a well-written novel. The romance is sweet and light, yet definitely grows throughout the story. Main characters and side characters are all very interesting. I really enjoyed the way the author was able to unfurl the mysteries one little bit at a time throughout the story, letting me know just enough to keep me wondering and reading on. The descriptions of the dances were beautiful and I felt that I could really see them dancing. After reading this book, I am looking forward to reading more of Julie Klassen’s novels.
I received a complimentary copy of The Dancing Master from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.
Set in Jane Austen’s England, “The Dancing Master” is about much more than reviving a lapsed tradition in an out of the way hamlet. It delves deeply into the struggles of individual characters: their motives and their foibles. It explores the importance of the truth, and highlights the peace that can be found in God’s Love and Grace. A moving and well-told tale, this romance deals with so much more than love. The healing that it brings to its characters may very well bring healing to its readers also.
An excellent plot development and realistic characters give this book its double-edged ability to pierce to the heart of the matter. It is not a quick read, but it is a good one.
I would like to thank Net Galley (https://www.netgalley.com/) and Bethany House for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.