Monday, November 30, 2015

Until the Dawn

This much-awaited novel from Elizabeth Camden most assuredly kept me entertained and engrossed over a long, snowy holiday weekend.

I love the diversity of settings and time periods Camden chooses for each of her novels, and this one is no exception.  Set in a mysterious, and long-deserted ancestral home overlooking the Hudson River Valley in the early 1900s, Camden sweeps her readers through a story of healing, redemption, and hope.

While I loved the story's main characters, Sophie van Riijn and Quentin Vandermark, their development through the story left something to be desired.  As in most romantic novels, the reader assumes from page one that these two will fall in love and live happily ever after.  As the story progresses, we learn plenty about these complex and well-developed characters individually, and why they act the way they do, but I somehow seemed to miss the development of their relationship.  The reader knows that they spend time together on a regular basis, but I would have enjoyed seeing them interact one-on-one with more regularity.

That said, I adored delving into the mysterious Dierenpark and its history.  Camden masterfully prompts her readers to ponder the nature of faith, the importance of hope, and the healing nature of love and forgiveness.

The Painter's Daughter

As a devoted Julie Klassen fan, I must say this newest novel did not disappoint!

This book has everything I've come to love about Klassen's books in particular, and in Regency fiction in general.  A complicated love story, a swoon-worthy leading man, a fascinating cultural and geographical backdrop, and some good old-fashioned suspense.  While it lacks some of the gothic mystery often found in Kalssen's earlier works, the old house in which the Overtree's live provides several fun plot twists.

I particularly liked the complexities of many of the characters.  Wesley, while inconstant and irresponsible, is a redeemable and believable antagonist.  Sophie's perceived lack of physical beauty and talent leads her to fall victim to such a charming young man, and accurately shows the ethical dangers many young women face.  Stephen Overtree-- the scarred, yet dashing Captain Wentworth-esq romantic lead-- exudes just the right amount of masculinity and tenderness.

As usual, Klassen pays homage to the great Jane Austen, with references to several young characters reading Sense and Sensibility, and a wonderful allusion to Pride and Prejudice's Lady Catherine de Bourgh, "If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient."  

Austen and Klassen fans rejoice, this is another hit!