Genre: Historical Romance (with slight Christian elements)
Author: Julie Klaussen
I picked up The Girlin the Gatehouse because I was looking for a clean historical romance. I thought it looked interesting, though, for the record, I'm not a fan of "all things Jane" as is Julie Klassen. Sure, I've watched Pride and Prejudice a few times, but that's more because I'm a fan of (almost) all things Colin Firth, if you know what I mean. I've never even read Jane Eyre. (Sacrilege for a romance writer to admit, right?)
I soon realized this was not the first novel I had read by Ms. Klassen. I also read The Painter's Daughter several months ago. There was something about the style and cadence that felt familiar.
Both books are exceptionally well written and very enjoyable. Both also start with a heroine who is a "fallen woman," not because of extreme moral failings on her part, but because of her willingness to believe the promises of others. However, the novels do not follow the same script, so it was not like reading the same book over again in a different setting. (Don't you just hate that?)
In a time when the consequences of such an indiscretion fall almost completely on the woman, Mariah has had to come to grips with a new reality quickly. She's a very mature heroine, something I really like. But, while she's wary, she doesn't close herself off from all relationships with the world.
Her kind-heartedness draws a wonderful secondary cast of characters about her, and they are one of the true delights of the story. I found myself rooting for her companion's blossoming romance(s), and felt Miss Dixon's pain when she had to choose between two worthy men. The other characters who fill her life feel as though they were placed there by a divine hand to provide her just the right insight and guidance. I loved them all. (OK, with the exception of Hugh, who was pretty much a villain.)
The hero, Captain Matthew Bryant, is almost the perfect hero. The reason I say almost is because I never quite understood his desire to impress the woman who threw him over. He seems too level-headed to have been attracted to someone so shallow, but who can fathom the ways of men, eh? His interactions with Mariah are every bit as sweet as one would expect from this type of romance.