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The Tutor’s Daughter By: Julie Klassen

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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?

Goodreads Summary

All of the mystery surrounding the Ebbington Manor’s Weston family in Cornwall reminds me of Jane Eyre.  Almost from the start, Julian gives off a dangerous vibe.  His over-the-top anger at a tutor shows his true, nasty nature.  Twin brother Rowen must step in to save the situation from becoming violent.  Emma Smallwood appealed to me with her intelligence and her devotion to her father.  Initially when she is still in her own residence and when she is with her Aunt Jane who lives and acts so independently, I admired Emma’s spirited independence in this era when women had no real voice.  Later while in the Weston manor, Emma’s reactions surprise me.  She doesn’t seem to have the same gumption anymore.  Insults and threatening circumstances don’t bring her to speak up for herself, as they should.

Lady Weston is delightfully hateful!  Her many secrets supply the cattiness, mystery, and danger in the story.  I can’t believe that Henry tries to be kind, even apologetic…and calls her “Mamma” in the end.  Her “business” dealings with the shady Mr. Teague aren’t the worst of her sins.  Even when confronted with the crime against her stepson, she still tries to protect smirking Julian – claiming that a grudge has been held against her “natural-born” sons.  Instead of apologizing for illegal activities, she threatens her husband with ruin if he does anything about them.  Her reasons for keeping her “ward” at the manor are just as secretive and underhanded.

The story moves a little slowly at times despite the mysterious happenings at the manor.  Henry and Emma’s romance is fun to read because of their history when they were younger.

4/5 stars

*Reviewed by Colleen*

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