Sunday, February 23, 2014

REVIEW: The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

The Tutor's DaughterThe Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Original Publication Year: 2013
Genre(s): Romance
Series: NA
Awards: None
Format: In Print
Narrated By: NA

Recommended subtitle: Gothic Adventures in Cornwall

Emma Smallwood is a “bluestocking”, an intellectual woman in a society that doesn’t value this trait in a female. She grew up in her father’s boarding school for boys and learned to value knowledge but when her mother dies both she and her Father lose direction. An invitation arrives, from longtime patrons the Westons, with an invitation to come to their seaside home to serve as tutor to their two teenage boys and Emma’s father surprises her by readily accepting. The Weston’s two older sons had spent three years in the Smallwood boarding school and Emma is torn between a feeling of excitement to see the younger brother Philip and dread at being under the same roof with older brother Henry.

Thus begins a Gothic tale of romance, family dysfunction and stormy seas, regency era style. When the Smallwood’s arrive at the Weston estate they are greeted by surprise and a distinct lack of welcome particularly by the Baronet’s second wife, Philip and Henry’s stepmother. It seems clear that the family has a secret and Emma is drawn into the mystery when it becomes clear that someone is sneaking into her room at night and some of her things start to go missing. All the while, Emma is trying to sort out her feelings towards the charming Philip and the brooding Henry.

Overall I really enjoyed this plot driven romance. Plot isn’t always at the center of a lot of romances; they include just enough to set up the romantic chemistry and conflict between the central characters. Not so in a Tutor’s Daughter which includes a host of characters and a multifaceted plot. It’s not that it is all that complex, it was easy to see what was coming from a few miles away, but it’s a fun Gothic mystery. As a suck-you-in comfort read it worked pretty well.

I liked it but I didn’t love it. It borrows a lot from other books, none of the story elements or characters are terribly original. The protagonists were a little too good and the other characters a little too not-good. It is classified as Christian Fiction which was a first for me and I was curious what this would actually mean. I am not religious (neither am I anti-religion) and would not have enjoyed it if the book was too overtly preachy. Mostly it wasn’t, though it has a few moments. I didn’t miss the explicit sex scenes which are the norm in most modern romance novels, and appreciated the focus on building chemistry through more “old-fashioned” means. Hmmm. Okay, well, it doesn’t really get more old fashioned than sex but hopefully you know what I mean. :-)

Final Verdict: I liked this plot driven regency era romance and plan on picking up others by Julie Klassen.

P.S. Thanks to Lovely Literature for bringing this author to my attention!

So this is likely a silly question but do other belief systems have their own genre?  For example, is there Buddhist or Jewish Fiction?  I may have to investigate.  If you know of any, let me know.  


  1. Thanks for the shout-out! I love to support this author because she is local (MN) and she always finds a new taboo topic in the regency era to center her novels around. I'm not particularly interested in Christian Fiction, either, but I think she is a solid writer. My favorites are The Maid of Fairbourne Hall and The Girl in the Gatehouse. I'm glad you enjoyed your first encounter with Julie Klassen!

    1. Knowing she's an Upper Midwesterner makes me like her even more (I currently reside just south in Iowa)! I have a special place in my reading heart for Lois McMaster Bujold because of her being a Minnesotan. I mean it doesn't hurt that she's an amazing and award winning author but the fact she chooses to live in the great middle north shows pluck. And down to earthness. Not that MN isn't a highly desirable place to live, it's just that it's so cold. I've been traumatized by Iowa winters - I can't imagine moving any further north. I do not have pluck.
      Thanks for recommending your two faves - they are on the TBR.

  2. "Okay, well, it doesn’t really get more old fashioned than sex"

    Dying over here.

    1. That was kind of a situation where you write something and then realize "nope, that makes no sense at all. Better clarify."