Monday, December 31, 2012

The Smart and Capable Daughter

Expected Publication:  January 1st, 2013
The Tutor's Daughter
By: Julie Klassen
Bethany House
ISBN-13: 9780764210693

Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father regain his spirits when his academy fails, agrees to travel with him to the distant Cornwall coast, to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But after they arrive and begin teaching the younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen and danger mounts. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte, only to find the music room empty? Who sneaks into her room at night? Who rips a page from her journal, only to return it with a chilling illustration?

The baronet's older sons, Phillip and Henry, wrestle with problems--and secrets--of their own. They both remember Emma Smallwood from their days at her father's academy. She had been an awkward, studious girl. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her.

When the suspicious acts escalate, can the clever tutor's daughter figure out which brother to blame... and which brother to trust with her heart?


     Emma Smallwood is the only daughter of a newly widowed Father, whose academy for young boys whose parents wish them to learn away from home is floundering due to his disinterest.  Emma writes to the Father of two former students, an Earl with two young sons of an age to be tutored.  The Earl replies with an invitation for Emma and her Father to come live with the family for a year and educate the twins (spoiled, coddled teenagers who are smothered by their Mother).  They accept with some hesitation, but thinking that a change of scene will do them good.  But then strange things begin happening upon their arrival.  Mysterious music late at night, someone being in Emma's room while she's asleep and belongings going missing.  Plus, Emma is wrestling with her conflicting feelings for the eldest son, brooding Henry and the middle son, charming Phillip.  But are first impressions what they seem to be?  And will the secrets of the noble family be more deadly than a simple tutor's daughter could ever have imagined?  This was a decent book.  I felt like Emma was little too smug and 'perfect' for a good heroine, she was definitely no Austen character that's for sure.  But I liked her all the same, even though she was completely naieve and devoid of most common sense/forethought.  It was pretty obvious who the better brother was, for all Emma's stupidly made observations and Henry would have been an interesting character - of not for his creepy stealing of Emma's things as a teen and hidden obsession with her as an adult.  The odd relationship between Phillip and Lizzie Henshaw (who is hiding something very huge), Lady Weston's ward, is creepy and not very believable.  I did like the plot development, as there were a couple of mild surprises.  But for the most part it was entirely predictable.  And I should have checked publishers beforehand, because I didn't realize it was Christian fiction until it go extremely preachy in the last 20% or so of the book.  That REALLY annoyed me beyond belief.  Especially since the rest of the book was so devoid of serious religion on the part of any character.  Overall, only recommended to serious fans of Christian romance, who like a little bit of history and mild mystery thrown in the mix.

VERDICT:  2/5  Stars

* received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is January 1st, 2013.*

1 comment:

  1. Henry was a weird character right? It was so obvious that he was the better brother but it take Emma ages to figure it out. I thought it was a weird mash-up of Austen and Jane Eyre with some new elements although I mostly liked it.


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