An Exclusive Interview with Julie Klassen, Author of The Sisters of Sea View

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:

Hello Dear Readers,

I love it when a favorite author begins a new series. It means that I get to meet new characters, discover new stories, and read multiple books. It is even more exciting when the new series is by a bestselling historical romance author such as Julie Klassen!

Austenprose has been a big fan of Klassen and her Regency-era novels reviewing many and interviewing her in the past. Today I am thrilled to welcome her back to discuss her first novel in her On Devonshire Shores series, The Sisters of Sea View. Continue reading “An Exclusive Interview with Julie Klassen, Author of The Sisters of Sea View

A Preview & Cover Reveal of The Sisters of Sea View: On Devonshire Shores (Book 1), by Julie Klassen

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

Hello Dear Readers,

I am so pleased to share a first look at a forthcoming historical romance novel from bestselling author Julie Klassen. The Sisters of Sea View is the first book in a new series and releases on December 6, 2022. I am thrilled to reveal the first details of the novel and its beautiful cover with you today.

Set on the Devonshire coast during the Regency-era, the first novel includes the story of three sisters Continue reading “A Preview & Cover Reveal of The Sisters of Sea View: On Devonshire Shores (Book 1), by Julie Klassen”

Shadows of Swanford Abbey, by Julie Klassen — A Review

From the desk of Katie Jackson:

In Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, Henry Tilney teases Catherine Morland’s overactive imagination with a ghostly tale that, among other things, suggests that “the part of the abbey you inhabit is undoubtedly haunted.” Such is the brooding tone and setting of the atmospheric romantic mystery Shadows of Swanford Abbey, by popular Regency romance author Julie Klassen.

After two years traveling the country as a lady’s companion, all the Continue reading “Shadows of Swanford Abbey, by Julie Klassen — A Review”

7 Romantic Historical Suspense Novels with a Gothic Twist

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

As All Hallows Eve approaches on October 31st, tis the season to discover new and recent Gothic fiction in the historical suspense, romance, and mystery genres.

We can thank English writer, art historian, and politician Horace Walpole (1717-1797) for creating the Gothic fiction genre. After having a terrifying nightmare, Walpole was inspired to write The Castle of Otranto. Published in 1764, it combines many of the elements we see in Gothic novels today: an atmospheric isolated estate, a puzzling family mystery, and a heroine in peril from evil forces. Other Continue reading “7 Romantic Historical Suspense Novels with a Gothic Twist”

A Castaway in Cornwall, by Julie Klassen – A Review   

A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen 2020From the desk of Katie Patchell:  

In this holiday season, acclaimed novelist, Julie Klassen, returns to the Regency world with her latest historical romance, A Castaway in Cornwall. Featuring dangerous wreckers, shifty smugglers, and mysterious strangers, readers may well detect a similar refrain to the haunting melody that is Daphne du Maurier’s classic, Jamaica Inn. Readers brace yourselves: prepare to be transported outside of the lights and glare of the 21st century to an old-world bathed in mists and deafened by the roaring of the sea. Prepare to meet a heroine who, against all odds, bravely fights to reclaim what the ocean has stolen. Continue reading “A Castaway in Cornwall, by Julie Klassen – A Review   “

Q&A with The Bridge to Belle Island Author Julie Klassen

The Bridge to Belle Island, by Julie Klassen (2019)

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

Happy Holidays Dear Readers. Today, I am so pleased to present an exclusive interview with bestselling and award-winning author Julie Klassen who has just released her latest historical romance mystery, The Belle to Bridge Island. Set in Regency-era London and an island on the River Thames, it is her return to historical suspense after writing her trilogy The Tales of Ivy Hill. Julie has generously answered my questions about the book and a few other intriguing topics as well.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Congratulation Julie! You have just released your 14th Historical romance novel, The Bridge to Belle Island. Can you share your inspiration for this new work?

Thank you! It’s always difficult to trace an idea back to one “aha” moment, but for this book, I would say I was inspired by learning of all the smaller islands that exist within the island of Great Britain, especially in the Lake District and on the Thames River. I enjoyed researching several of these tiny, fascinating places with intriguing names like Eel Pie Island, Pharaoh’s Island, Monkey Island, and others. Some of them have fine homes on them, others are uninhabited. Some are reachable by bridge, others only by boat. Many have colorful histories.

How do you select a title, and is there any significance in your choice of The Bridge to Belle Island?

Actually, The Bridge to Belle Island wasn’t my original working title. Determining titles is a group effort between me and my editors. They ask me for several ideas and we go back and forth until we all agree on a winning title. I felt strongly about having “island” in the title since that was part of my original inspiration, plus an island setting is so appealing for a mystery. (And Then There Were None, anyone?) I suggested this title, because the bridge plays an important role in the novel (the main character is unable to cross it at the beginning) and “bridge” also hints at one of the themes of the book. I LOVE that the designer featured a bridge on the cover.

After your trilogy, The Tales of Ivy Hill, you have returned to Regency mystery/suspense. What intrigued you do so?

I thoroughly enjoyed writing a series and remaining in one village and among (primarily) the same characters for three novels. But I was also ready for something new and different. Plus, I love a mind-challenging mystery. Two of my former novels, The Tutor’s Daughter and The Secret of Pembrooke Park have strong mystery elements, but The Bridge to Belle Island is my most mysterious to date, with the characteristics of a classic Whodunit blended with romance.

The plot is set in Regency-era London and on an island on the Thames River. What research did you conduct to understand the two environments during this time?

A lot! Thankfully, my husband and I were able to visit several islands on the Thames River. For the London and legal aspects of the novel, I had some help with research. An intern helped me figure out how investigations were carried out during the era of Bow Street Runners, before the Metropolitan Police (aka Scotland Yard) was founded, and before the age of private detectives like fictional Sherlock Holmes. I based the opening court case on transcripts from the Old Bailey. And finally, I was grateful to have a lawyer and Austen scholar review the manuscript to help me avoid any glaring mistakes.

Your hero, Benjamin Booker, is a London lawyer who is compelled to investigate the death of a business associate who was the trustee of the estate of your heroine Isabelle Wilder. This trio of the living and the dead is what brings your characters together. How did you put yourself in their shoes and visualize their scenes?

That’s one of the fun things about writing: watching a movie of your own creation in your mind! To help me visualize the setting, we commissioned a British cartographer to create a map of Belle Island—a fictional place, but one based on a real island on the Thames. Also, I read first-person accounts of what it is like to experience vertigo and agoraphobia, which play roles in the novel.

What are the most endearing character traits of your hero and heroine? What are their weaknesses?

Benjamin suffers from anxiety-related vertigo. And even though he suspects Isabelle is hiding something, he longs to protect her. Isabelle, meanwhile, is everything warm and gracious within the safety of her island home, but deep-seated fears keep her trapped there. I have not suffered from either of these specific issues, but as a mom (and human) I know a thing or two about fear and worry, and enjoyed weaving these challenges into the novel. I do think Benjamin and Isabelle are likable, especially perhaps because of their weaknesses, and hope readers will find them relatable.

What did you enjoy most about writing The Bridge to Belle Island? What was the most challenging?

Writing a whodunit was a new challenge, but one I enjoyed. I loved creating an intriguing puzzle for readers to solve. Finding the right balance of clues and red-herrings was definitely difficult. Thanks to my beta readers and editors, I think (hope!) we got it right.

There is a long history of Gothic romance and historical mystery set during the Regency-era. Can you share any books or authors that you have read and enjoyed?

I have not read many mysteries set in the Regency era, though I have enjoyed several Gothic Regency novels by my friend Michelle Griep, and several Victorian-era mysteries by Anne Perry as well as Elizabeth Peters.

Have you ever drawn personalities or characteristics from people you know and applied them to the characters in your novels?  

In general, I don’t write about people I know, but I believe writers are influenced by everything we take in, including everyone we meet, so, indirectly, yes!

What do you like to read when you’re not researching your next book?

Like many people, I read books that are strongly recommended to me. When someone I trust says, “You have to read this book!” I am likely to give it a try. I read in many genres, from contemporary romance to historical fiction, to mystery. Lately, my husband and I have been enjoying many Agatha Christie mysteries both in audiobook and television versions. But you’re right—mostly what I read are research books.

Are you planning another research trip to England soon?

Yes, my husband and I are tentatively planning to return to Cornwall, England in 2020 to do more research for my next full-length novel.

I am curious if you can share anything about your next book? Even a mere hint would be intriguing.

Next up from me is a novella called An Ivy Hill Christmas (September 2020). In the story, unexpected surprises and romance work their magic in a prodigal’s heart.

Thank you so much for your time and insights, Julie! Best, LA

You are very welcome, Laurel Ann! Julie


The Bridge to Belle Island


BOOK DESCRIPTION

In this page-turning standalone, an island estate with hidden secrets and a cast of characters with motives for murder will keep you up late into the night to find out what happens next.

As lawyer Benjamin Booker investigates the mysterious death of an old friend, evidence takes him to a remote island on the Thames, shrouded in mist and mystery. There, Isabelle Wilder is trapped by fear and a recurring dream about a man’s death. Or is it a memory? When a second death brings her admirer, friends, and family under suspicion, and the search for the truth brings secrets to light, she realizes her island sanctuary will never be the same.


AUTHOR BIO

The Klassens-in Bath_EnflandBestselling and award-winning author Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, she worked in publishing for sixteen years and now write full time. Three of her books, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park won the Minnesota Book Award, and The Silent Governess was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s RITA awards. She has also been honored with the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. She enjoys travel, research, BBC period dramas, long hikes, short naps, and coffee with friends. She and her husband have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota.

Read our 5 Star review of The Bridge to Belle Island


BOOK INFORMATION

  • The Bridge to Belle Island by Julie Klassen
  • Bethany House Publishers (2019)
  • Hardcover, trade paperback, eBook, and audiobook (400) pages
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764218194
  • Genre: Historical Suspense, Regency Romance, Inspirational Fiction

ADDITIONAL INFOADD TO GOODREADS 

Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of Bethany House Publishers © 2019; text Julie Klassen & Laurel Ann Nattress © 2019, austenprose.com.

The Bridge to Belle Island, by Julie Klassen — A Review

The Bridge to Belle Island, by Julie Klassen (2019)From the desk of Sophia Rose:

First, Julie Klassen pulled me into her writing with a haunting, gothic romantic suspense, The Secret of Pembrooke Park, and most recently delighted me with the world of a quaint English village and its occupants in her series, The Tales of Ivy Hill. In her latest release, Klassen wrote a romantic suspense that is slightly darker, splitting the setting of an island estate on the Thames and London. I love a good murder mystery, and setting it in the Regency period had me taking up The Bridge to Belle Island prepared for a reading treat.

Young lawyer, Benjamin Booker, has just experienced a humiliating loss in court when the client he Continue reading “The Bridge to Belle Island, by Julie Klassen — A Review”

The Painter’s Daughter, by Julie Klassen – A Review

From the desk of Katie Patchell: 

Digital Cameras. Laptops. Word documents and Note Apps. In 2015, these and countless other electronic items are used to quickly capture memories and jot down thoughts. But in 1815, the primary means of recording moments and ideas was through paper, pen, and paintbrush. Novels, journals, and artwork show moderns what life was like in the early 1800s, bringing readers and viewers into the thoughts and events of two centuries ago. In The Painter’s Daughter, Julie Klassen’s latest Regency romance set against the backdrop of Devon’s towering cliffs, readers discover a story of secrets and danger, prophecies and Continue reading “The Painter’s Daughter, by Julie Klassen – A Review”

Lady Maybe: A Novel, by Julie Klassen – A Review

From the desk of Katie Patchell: 

For the past several years, Austenprose has had the joy of reviewing books inspired by a beloved author, Jane Austen, as well as those set in the Regency period. One author, in particular, has appeared more than once and has written numerous Regency books inspired by the timeless novels of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters: Julie Klassen. In her latest novel Lady Maybe, Klassen blends notes of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, to create a mystery-filled Gothic romance about the power of truth, and the lengths people will go to conceal it. Continue reading “Lady Maybe: A Novel, by Julie Klassen – A Review”

Blog Tour of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, by Julie Klassen

Award-winning historical romance author Julie Klassen tours the blogosphere February 16 through March 2, 2015, to share her latest release, The Secret of Pembrooke Park. 

Klassen’s eighth novel is a Gothic romance, a “gem for Regency and inspirational readers alike.” — Bookpage, introducing us to Miss Abigail Foster, a heroine in the making who travels to an ancestral manor where she discovers a past tainted by family secrets, rumors of hidden treasure and the surprise of an unexpected romance. Continue reading “Blog Tour of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, by Julie Klassen”

The Secret of Pembrooke Park, by Julie Klassen – A Review

The Secret at Pembrooke Park, by Julie Klassen 2014 x 200From the desk of Katie Patchell:

A manor filled with secrets, frozen in time. Rumors of hidden treasure. Whispers of murder. Stubbornly silent local residents. One newly arrived and extremely curious heroine, a young woman who will stop at nothing to discover the secrets of Pembrooke Park. Whether or not the heroine prevails can be discovered in Julie Klassen’s latest Regency novel, The Secret of Pembrooke Park, a novel that delves into the darkness that resides in all human souls.

At the age of twenty-two, Abigail Foster believes that her future is secure: after building the house that she and her childhood friend, Gilbert Scott, designed, he will propose, Abigail will say yes, and they will happily spend the rest of their lives together. But when Abigail witnesses a loving interaction between her younger sister, Continue reading “The Secret of Pembrooke Park, by Julie Klassen – A Review”

The Girl in the Gatehouse, by Julie Klassen – A Review

The Girl in the Gatehouse, by Julie Klassen (2011)From the desk of Katie Patchell:

Women writers in the 21st century are accepted and praised for their ability to write great literature. Their books are proudly published alongside the books written by men, and literature today is not judged by the gender of the author but by the quality of the content. But it wasn’t always like this. Female authors in the Regency underwent many struggles that are not experienced or understood today. Society in the 1800’s rarely accepted female authors, and it was the exception, not the norm, that guaranteed a woman protection from society after publishing under her own name. So if society frowned upon female authors, then how would an authoress even go about finding and meeting with a publisher? How could she Continue reading “The Girl in the Gatehouse, by Julie Klassen – A Review”

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