Monday, February 16, 2015

Guest post: The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen


Award winning historical romance author Julie Klassen tours the blogosphere February 16 through March 2 to share her latest release, The Secret of Pembrooke Park. Twenty five popular book bloggers specializing in historical and Austenesque fiction will feature guest blogs, interviews, book reviews and excerpts of this acclaimed gothic Regency romance novel. A fabulous giveaway contest, including copies of all of Ms. Klassen’s eight books and other Jane Austen-themed items, is open to those who join the festivities.

Today's tour feature is a book excerpt from chapter 1 of the book.


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by Julie Klassen
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Book excerpt: (from chapter 1)

March 1818

The jewel case lay open on the desk between them, the evergreen emeralds glittering against the black velvet lining. The necklace and matching bracelet had been passed down through the Foster side of the family. Her mother’s family had no precious gems to pass down. And soon neither side would.

Her father snapped the case shut, and Abigail winced as though she’d been slapped.

“Say good-bye to the family jewels,” he said. “I suppose I shall have to sell these along with the house.”

Standing before her father’s desk, Abigail gripped her hands. “No, Papa, not the jewels. There must be another way. . . .”

Nearly a year had passed since Gilbert left England, and with it Abigail’s twenty-third birthday. When she had predicted an uncertain future on the eve of his departure, she’d been more accurate than she would have guessed.

What had she been thinking? Just because she could run a large home and staff did not mean she knew anything about investments. She was the type of person who usually considered things carefully, investigated thoroughly before acting—whether it was selecting a new dressmaker or hiring a new housemaid. Abigail was the practical, behind-the-scenes daughter and had long prided herself on making sound, rational decisions. That was why her mother left much of the household management to her. Even her father had come to depend on her opinion.

Now they were facing financial ruin—and it was her fault. Little more than a year ago, she had encouraged her father to invest in Uncle Vincent’s new bank. Her mother’s brother was her only uncle, and Abigail had always been fond of him. He was charming, enthusiastic, and eternally optimistic. He and his partners, Mr. Austen and Mr. Gray, owned two country banks and had wished to open a third. Uncle Vincent had asked her father to post a large bond of guarantee, and under Abigail’s influence, he agreed.

The banks were at first successful. However, the partners made excessive, unwise loans, sometimes lending to each other. They sold one bank but struggled to keep the others afloat. The new bank had stopped business in November, and a week ago the original bank failed and the partners declared bankruptcy.

Abigail could still hardly believe it. Her uncle had been so sure the banks would thrive and had made Abigail believe it as well.

Seated at his desk, her father set aside the jewelry case and ran his finger down the accounts ledger.

Abigail awaited his verdict, palms damp, heart beating dully.

“How bad is it?” she asked, twisting her hands.

“Bad. We are not destitute, and you and Louisa still have your dowries. But the lion’s share of my capital is gone and with it the interest.”

Abigail’s stomach cramped. “Again, I am sorry, Papa. Truly,” she said. “I honestly thought Uncle Vincent and his partners would be successful.”

He ran a weary hand over his thin, handsome face. “I should not have allowed myself to be swayed by the two of you. I have seen his other ventures fail in the past. But you have always had a good head on your shoulders, Abigail. I thought I could trust your judgment. No, now, I don’t say this is entirely your fault. I blame myself as well. And Vincent, of course.”

Seeing her father so deeply disappointed and disillusioned—with her and with life—left her feeling sick with guilt and regret. Uncle Vincent blamed his partners and their risky loans. But in the end, regardless of who was to blame, the fact was that Charles Foster had agreed to act as guarantor. He was not the only person who lost money when the banks failed, but he lost the most.

Her father shook his head, a bitter twist to his lips. “I don’t know how I shall break it to Louisa that she is not to have her season after all. She and her mother have their hearts set on it.”

Abigail nodded in silent agreement. The London season was well-known hunting grounds for wealthy husbands. She hoped Louisa’s eagerness to participate meant she was not waiting for Gilbert Scott. If Louisa and Gilbert did have an understanding, Louisa had clearly kept it a secret from her mother, who was determined to give her youngest a spectacular season. At nineteen Louisa was at the peak of her beauty—or so their mother declared, insisting it was the perfect time to find her an advantageous match.

Her father leaned back in his chair with a defeated sigh. “If only there were a way to avoid selling the house, but as much as we all love it, it is too large and too expensive. The price of being fashionable, I suppose.”

Not to mention the cost of maintaining a Grosvenor Square style of living—behaving like nobility, though in reality they were only genteel, with no title or land. As a gentleman, her father had never in his life had to work. The family had lived on the interest from his inheritance. Money he had invested wisely—until now.

Once again, Gilbert’s suggestion that they not “shackle ourselves with promises” echoed through Abigail’s mind, and she straightened her shoulders in resolve. “Yes, Papa. We shall have to sell the house, but not the family jewels. Not while there is another option. . . .”


Guest post created by Julie Klassen, author of The Secret of Pembrooke Park
© 2015. All rights reserved.

About the author:

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time.

Three of her books have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards.

Julie and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon | Barnes&Noble |
Book Depository | Indie Bound | Publisher Page
Twitter @julie_klassen and @Bethany_House

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by Julie Klassen
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READ more about this world...

The Secret of Pembrooke Park
by Julie Klassen
-Christian, Historical, Jane Austen theme, Romance
Amazon | Goodreads

In the spring of 1818, twenty-four-year-old Abigail Foster fears she is destined to become a spinster. Her family’s finances are in ruins and the one young man she truly esteems has fallen for another woman — her younger, prettier sister Louisa.

Forced to retrench after the bank failure of Austen, Gray & Vincent, the Foster family optimistically pool their resources for another London Season for her sister in hopes of an advantageous alliance. While searching for more affordable lodgings, a surprising offer is presented: the use of a country manor house in Berkshire abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to the imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left, the tight-lipped locals offering only rumors of a secret room, hidden treasure and a murder in its mysterious past.

Eager to restore her family fortune, Abigail, with the help of the handsome local curate William Chapman and his sister Leah, begins her search into the heavily veiled past aided by unsigned journal pages from a previous resident and her own spirited determination. 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?

--~ Blog Tour Giveaway ~--

Grand Giveaway Contest

Win One of Four Fabulous Prizes

In celebration of the release of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, four chances to win copies of Julie’s books and other Jane Austen-inspired items are being offered.

Three lucky winners will receive one trade paperback or eBook copy of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, and one grand prize winner will receive one copy of all eight of Julie’s novels: Lady of Milkweed Manor, The Apothecary's Daughter, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, The Tutor’s Daughter, The Dancing Master, and The Secret of Pembrooke Park, one DVD of Northanger Abbey (2007) and a Jane Austen Action Figure.

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on The Secret of Pembrooke Park Blog Tour starting February 16, 2015 through 11:59 pm PT, March 9, 2015.

Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Julie Klassen’s website on March 16, 2015. Winners have until March 22, 2015 to claim their prize.

The giveaway contest is open to residents of the US, UK, and Canada. Digital books will be sent through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Good luck to all!


Contest has ended - winner is here



* post is courtesy of blog tour details: February 16 – March 02, 2015

* stay tuned for review on Feb 24

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