A WINTER BY THE SEA by Julie Klassen
SERIES: On Devonshire Shores #2
GENRE: Historical/Regency Romance (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: December 5, 2023
Royalty comes to Sidmouth, bringing unexpected danger and the sweet possibility of romance. . . .
When the Duke and Duchess of Kent and their daughter–the future Queen Victoria–rent neighboring Woolbrook Cottage for the winter, the Summers sisters are called upon to host three of the royal family’s male staff in their seaside house. But they soon realize they’ve invited secrets and intrigue into their home.
Meanwhile, Emily Summers longs to become an author. A local publisher offers to consider her novel if she will first write a Sidmouth guidebook for him. Emily agrees and begins researching the area with help from the Duke of Kent’s handsome private secretary. But a surprise visitor from her past shows up at Sea View, leaving Emily torn between the desires she’s long held dear and her budding dreams for the future.
Return to the Devonshire coast with the Summers sisters, where loyalties are tested, secrets come to light, and new love emerges.
Other Books In This Series
“…kissing the man you loved wasn’t poetry. It was better.”
Oh how I loved this story! And how I loved getting to visit with the Summers sisters, their mother, and the eccentric Mr. Gwilt again! There’s a swoony romance brewing, a new batch of guests with layered backstories, further character development and more insight into the sisters themselves, and a sweet (and organically presented) message of faith. But there’s also a very intriguing history that plays out on these pages, and I immensely enjoyed that element as well. Getting to ‘meet’ Prince Edward (the Duke of Kent and Strathearn, King George III’s fourth son) and the unlikely-but-future Queen (as a little baby) helped bring that part of history to life and made me appreciate even more the surprise twists that ended up eventually putting Victoria on the throne.
As with The Sisters of Sea View, Klassen tells the story from alternating third person perspectives, though in A Winter by the Sea we only switch between Emily and Sarah. These transitions are seamlessly done and create the cozy feeling that we readers are curled up on a couch in the parlor watching one sister and then the other. Because of this, I have become deeply invested in Sarah and Emily – and Viola – and care about their struggles and successes, their joys and heartbreaks. (On that note, I am still rooting for the return of a certain swoony Scotsman, and certain events in this story have me hoping for a reunion sooner rather than later.) I really enjoyed the growth I saw in both Sarah and Emily over the course of this story, as well as the shifting family dynamics and the emphasis on trusting God with your future. This is a reminder we all need, regardless of how different – or similar – our circumstances may be from those of the Summers sisters.
And the romance… oh the agony and the bliss! There is a delicious tension of attraction that simmers instantly between Emily and Mr. Thomson – the Duke of Kent’s private secretary who is staying at Sea View while the Royal party winters in Sidmouth. As the novel progresses, we come to see James as the kindest of men, a voracious reader (go ahead and swoon – I know you want to), and a man of faith. Watching his anguish as Emily’s first love returns and wants to make amends… well, you just need to read it for yourself. But trust me, Klassen does a fabulous job of immersing us so completely in this story that your own heart will twist for James and for Emily and for Charles. As a general rule, I don’t like love triangles but this one is written so tenderly that I’m glad I didn’t shy away from reading it. (I say that as though anything could keep me from reading a Julie Klassen book – please!)
Bottom Line: Grab a comfy blanket and your fave hot beverage and settle in by a roaring fire (if only in your imagination) to read A Winter by the Sea – the second book in Julie Klassen’s delightfully character-driven Regency series. You will experience a range of emotions over the course of this sweet story, but you will close the last page with a smile and a lighter heart. You may even learn some history while being thoroughly captivated by Klassen’s engaging writing voice and layered plot. Add in a kind and bookish hero, a plucky and bookish heroine, new friends and old, unexpected twists and turns, compelling characters, a quaint seaside village, and a reminder to lean into God’s wisdom and trust Him with your future… what more could you want? Perfect for fans of Persuasion and Little Women!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 5 stars / fantastic!
KissingBook Level: 3+ / will forget to breathe on occasion
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane–Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. Her books have sold more than 1.5 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 St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit julieklassen.com.
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