Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister.
Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll’s house left mid-play…
The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem acquainted with the manor’s past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.
This catches Abigail’s attention. Hoping to restore her family’s finances–and her dowry–Abigail looks for this supposed treasure. But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn’t the only one secretly searching the house.
Then Abigail begins receiving anonymous letters, containing clues about the hidden room and startling discoveries about the past.
As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?
I’m always excited to get my hands on a Julie Klassen novel because I know that she knows her time period so well and she write such terrific romances. Well, I wasn’t disappointed with this one! Here’s why:
What I liked:
The eerie gothic feel to this novel. To be considered a gothic (in my book) is to have not only creepy characters and a creepy mystery, but to have a creepy house. Yes to all three. There was someone running around in a cape, villagers who kept secrets, and a house with a story it didn’t want to tell. Loved it!
Abigail. She’s a terrific heroine because she’s smart. She starts off in the book a bit humbled by her circumstances, but it never really keeps her down. She manages to come across as brave instead of stupid and wise instead of frustrating. Abigail has a few insecurities I thought that are almost universal and really made me root for her as a person.
The romance. It was done slowly, but believably for those times, and by the time that Abigail and her guy got together, I had confidence that they were good together, that they loved and respected each other, and that there romance would last.
The secondary characters. They kept me guessing the whole time. Are they lying? Are they telling the truth? Are they who they really say they are?
Spiritually, there’s a beautiful theme of grace and forgiveness and starting over that reverberates throughout the tale.
What I didn’t like:
I enjoyed it all!
Romantic Scale: 8.8
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. It had a great heroine, that lovely gothic feel, a swoony romance, and it managed to stay true to its time.
**I received a copy of this book from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**