cover image The Dancing Master

The Dancing Master

Julie Klassen. Bethany House, $14.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-7642-1070-9

British village life in Beaworthy, Devonshire, in the early 19th century revolves around tradition for both the haves and the have-nots in Klassen’s (The Tutor’s Daughter) latest Regency historical. Lady Julia Midwinter is the young, headstrong daughter of the manor. Despite a wealth of friends and diversions, single Julia latches on to the town’s newly-arrived dancing master, a young, attractive man named Alec Valcourt, who came to Beaworthy under somewhat mysterious circumstances with his mother and sister. Unfortunately for Alec, Julia’s mother, Lady Amelia Midwinter, has long decreed that dancing is prohibited in the village—particularly at the May Day celebration. Alec and Julia must navigate the intricacies of their responsibilities while remaining true to themselves. Passionate storytelling and intriguing mystery are overshadowed by the relationship between the eminently unlikable Julia and her mother. Their contentious relationship, while explained, comes across as overly contrived. A rather large and delightful cast of secondary characters serves to bolster the plot and provide the occasional bit of levity to a well-written book that is less engaging than Klassen’s usual work. Agency: Books & Such Literary Agency. (Jan.)