Thursday, March 25, 2021

Julie Klassen - The Dancing Master

Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a "good match" in Regency England.
Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master--a man her mother would never approve of--but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec's help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village. . .and to her mother's tattered heart?
Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.
Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he's initially wary of Julia Midwinter's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul--and hidden sorrows of her own.

Comment: Another book by this author. Her books aren't always 100% great for me but the plots and the development of the characters usually have enough appeal to make me want to keep reading her backlist.

In this one we have the story of Alec Valcourt and his mother and sister and how they had to move in with his mother's brother who lives in the country. Their life in London ended and they couldn't afford to keep living there but Alec hoped he could return to his profession of dancing master wherever they ended. However, his uncle failed to mention the most influential family in the area isn't keen on dancing and amusements and those who need their money comply. Lady Amelia Midwinter is the responsible to enforce such a silent rule but her daughter Julia is bored and eager for some novelty and fun ans she would want to see Alec succeed. Why does this weird rule exist, why is all dance forbidden and why does it seem to exist too many secrets surrounding the whole thing?

I'll admit dancing masters in historical settings aren't exactly what I'd call "tempting" reading material but I'm determined to read all the books by this author, there's certainly something about her stories that makes me want to spend time reading. Therefore, I saw reading this one as one more item to complete my personal challenge - of course from time to time so I don't spend my will at once.

Anyway, I went into this book without high expectations except in the sense I hoped I could be positively surprised but to be honest, judging from the beginning, I wasn't too impressed. I thought this one started too slow and I admit I was a little bored at first. I preserved and as the plot moved on, things got more interesting. I saw some reviews where other readers said the same thing so I can't be the only one to have had these thoughts but I can also see how this would have led many to just give up.

To me, the weakest element in the whole book was Julia, the apparent main female character. Yes, yes, people see things in a very personal way, what works for you might nor work for me, Julia is only 19, Julia has unsolved issues, has a boring and too set on one structure life...all that can be taken int consideration but I just didn't like her, she was too different from myself and the way she was portrayed simply didn't convince me to appreciate her fo those same differences. I know in historical books, everything had a different tone but she kept on being too childish to me.

Her romance with Alec is pretty much what we would expect from a labeled "clean romance", meaning, nothing happens but for one kiss. We are supposed to see their connection by other ways but apart from a possible friendship, I was not convinced they would need to be a couple. I liked Alec better, he obviously had to take upon other responsibilities but except for physical attraction, nothing between them screamed love or chemistry.

What truly made me want to keep reading was Julia's mother's secrets. This is hinted at only, despite being quite an important part of the plot and the resolution to the big mystery we get to be more aware of as the pages go by is, as it seems to be the trend with the author, badly solved. It's a pity, actually... the plots tend to be so engaging and the idea of them often makes up for the flaws but then the end of the book is here and this is "clean" and too many things aren't solved as well as they could... I mean, the important parts are but I wished for more. In this case, I wanted not only to know more about Amelia's feelings - so superficially worked on by the author - but more interactions between her and a secondary character, important for the story. Ok, ok, I'll admit: Id rather have read Amelia's story than her daughter's, she did see to be much more compelling to me.

Thinking of this book as a whole, it wasn't too bad but it could have been so much more...perhaps this is my biggest critic to the author's style, she could go one step further with her elements, even if she wants to maintain the "clean" label. But some aspects always tend to be left a little unfinished.

Grade: 6/10

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