Title: Shadows of Swanford Abbey
Author: Julie Klassen
Genre: Regency Romance, Historical Suspense, Inspirational FictionPublisher: Bethany House Publishers (December 7, 2021)Length: (416) pagesFormat: Hardcover, trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook Tour Dates: December 6-17, 2021
Agatha Christie meets Jane Austenin this atmospheric Regency tale brimming with mystery, intrigue, and romance.
When Miss Rebecca Lane returns to her home village after a few years away, her brother begs for a favor: go to nearby Swanford Abbey and deliver his manuscript to an author staying there who could help him get published. Feeling responsible for her brother’s desperate state, she reluctantly agrees.
The medieval monastery turned grand hotel is rumored to be haunted. Once there, Rebecca begins noticing strange things, including a figure in a hooded black gown gliding silently through the abbey’s cloisters. For all its renovations and veneer of luxury, the ancient foundations seem to echo with whispers of the past–including her own. For there she encounters Sir Frederick—magistrate, widower, and former neighbor—who long ago broke her heart.
When the famous author is found murdered in the abbey, Sir Frederick begins questioning staff and guests and quickly discovers that several people held grudges against the man, including Miss Lane and her brother. Haunted by a painful betrayal in his past, Sir Frederick searches for answers but is torn between his growing feelings for Rebecca and his pursuit of the truth. For Miss Lane is clearly hiding something…
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Shadows of Swanford Abbey is a lovely and atmospheric whodunit set in a gorgeous location with a sweet romance thrown in for flavor.
There’s been a murder most foul at Swanford Abbey. So many suspects! Such a dastardly victim! (We think he’s a bit of a lout for most of the book, but what we think we know pales in comparison to the truth we actually discover in the end. To say he had it coming pretty much sums it up, IMO) Ms Klassen drew upon many inspirations when she wrote Shadows according to her author’s note, and it shows–there’s just as many Jane Austen touches here as there are Agatha Christie–and the novel comes out a cohesive whole in the end, all of the different elements blending together nicely.
The setting of a hotel allows for a lively assortment of characters, and I especially loved all of the family relationships Ms Klassen wove into her tale. The bonds between siblings are significant–and complicated!–here for many of her characters, as they are in real life as well, heartbreaking and hopeful in equal measure.
And the delicious slow burn romance between Rebecca and Frederick…happy sigh <3
This was my first book from Julie Klassen, but it definitely won’t be my last!
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About the author:
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. Her books have sold over a million copies, and she is a three-time recipient of the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award and has been a finalist in the RITA and Carol Awards. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Becky. I am glad that you have now been introduced to Julie Klassen. She has written 18 books, so you have plenty of choices to dive into. I enjoyed the slow burn romance too, however, the suspense and Gothic elements were my favorite. Best, LA
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