Posted in Contemporary

Katherine Reay’s Dear Mr. Knightly


Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.

Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.

But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.

Reminding us all that our own true character is not meant to be hidden, Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.


Dear Ms. Reay,

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this book! When I first heard about it, I was so excited! How did you know I love epistolary novels? How did you know Daddy Long Legs is one of my favorite books (not the movie, per se, Fred Astaire came off as a bit creepy lol)? And that Emma was my favorite Jane Austen novel? Mr. Knightly far surpasses Darcy in my opinion. And then, to top if off, the novel took place in my hometown of Chicago! Amazing.

I will say, that at first, I was nervous, because to do a kind of remake might not have turned out so well. Let me just say, that Samantha is her own person and infuses the novel with her personality. I loved everything about her. Her insecurities, her love of reading, and her awkwardness.  I even liked her age and dealing with grad school and finding a job (yes, that might be about where I am in life). Her experiences felt real. I know people like that. And the guy? I loved him on so many different levels, even when he messed up. I thought the romance was beautifully done, real and raw. I did however wish that it wasn’t tied up so quickly. I wish there could be a book two. I want to see more of Sam and her guy together.

As an English major with a love for all things British, I felt like you got me. I recognized the quotes, I understood the references, I got it. None Austen-Bronte fans may not get every reference, but for those of us who do, the novel was very rich.

Spiritually, I loved how you showed God’s love through his people and how you can do things your way, but only God will bring you contentment and joy.*

Overall, Ms. Reay, this novel warmed my heart and made me want to immediately reread it again. Loved your novel, and I look forward to anything you write from here on!

Your new biggest fan,


*For my sensitive readers, there is a swear word in the novel that may or may not be jarring.

Romantic Scale: 9.5

**I received this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

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