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? (From Goodreads)
I thought this was enjoyable to read. It reminded me a lot of Jayne Eyre (sans an eccentric Mr Rochester) as it had a lot of similar qualities in the book. It certainly does have a Gothic element to it which adds more to the mystery and gives the story a bit of a dark theme to it.
Emma is quite a lovely character to read about. She’s certainly very bookish, but has the patience of a saint to deal with students (such as Henry – who was quite odious as Emma had described during her past with him) (he still remained so…although I’m the type to bear a grudge sometimes so I wouldn’t be so forgivable..Emma can be just too nice in my opinion). I’m not too sure what Emma really saw in Phillip. I didn’t find him the least bit likable. Charming yes. However it’s like a wallflower having a crush on the most popular guy in school role. The moment he opens his mouth he just doesn’t become that Adonis you’ve always thought of. So I’m not really sure what Emma saw in him. He wasn’t that great (neither was Henry but at least Henry had a level head on his shoulders)
I’m not sure what I think of Lizzie. She’s the type where you have to be her friend because she’s the only one around who will talk to you but you don’t really want to hang out with because you just simply can’t trust her….
The plot itself was really good although the urge to kick Lady Weston every so often was there throughout the entire book (argh she was awful) the mystery element of the book was good and interesting. The romance element is nice as well and the pace of the book was steady and even.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this book and will continue reading more of Julie Klaasen (I’ve read Maid of Fairbourne Hall – which I enjoyed as well). If you haven’t checked any of her books out, I highly suggest you do so for some very enjoyable reading with well done characters.
I give it a 9 out of 10.
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.