The Secret of Pembrooke Park
Abigail Foster’s family has fallen on hard times financially, finding themselves needing to leave their fashionable London home and move to a less expensive country place. When a mysterious offer to stay at the once-abandoned Pembrooke Park arrives, they decide that Abigail and her father will go ahead and move while her mother and beautiful younger sister finish the season in London. From her first days at Pembrooke, however, Abigail finds the place shrouded in mystery and sadness, filled with the ghosts of a former owner killed by his brother, and the rumors of a missing treasure. Abigail isn’t sure what is true and what isn’t, but she does know she has found new friends in the local curate and his family, but even they seem to know more than they share. Attracted to curate William Carpenter, but torn by feelings for her boyhood friend Gilbert, Abigail begins to feel as though she’ll never find true happiness, even as she becomes further embroiled in the mysteries of Pembrooke Park.
Klassen has hit a home run with this Regency story, channeling Austen with her atmospheric language and settings. Abigail is easily identifiable as the heroine who undervalues herself, conflicted by her feelings in both love and trust. The mysteries are not particularly deep but still intriguing, and the romance is both sweet and frustrating (in just the right amounts). There is a Christian element, but it is woven well into the storyline overall and is not overly prevalent. Thoroughly fun.