After A Humiliating Mistake, Lawyer Benjamin Booker Resolves To Never Again Trust A Beautiful Woman When An Old Friend Is Killed, The Senior Partner Isn T Satisfied With Bow Street S Efforts And Asks Benjamin To Investigate Eager To Leave London For A While, Benjamin Agrees Evidence Takes Him To A Remote Island On The Thames, A World Unto Itself, Shrouded In Mist And Mystery Soon He Finds Himself Falling For The Main Suspect A Woman Who Claims Not To Have Left The Island In Ten Years But Should He Trust Her On Belle Island, Isabelle Feels Safe And Leads A Productive Life, But Fear Keeps Her Trapped There When Mr Booker Arrives With News Of Her Trustee S Murder In London, Isabelle Is Stunned She Has Not Left The Island, Yet She Has A Recurring Dream About The Man S Death Or Is It A Memory She Had Been Furious With Him, But She Never IntendedthisWhen A Second Person Dies, And Evidence Shockingly Points To Her, Isabelle Doesn T Know Who To Trust The Attractive Lawyer Or The Admirer And Friends Who Assemble On The Island, Each With Grudges Against The Victim Can She Even Trust Her Own Mind While They Search For The Truth, Secrets Come To Light And Danger Comes Calling Julie Klassen is a hit or miss author for me Some of her books I love others not so much This one fell right in the middle It was a slow moving mystery with a bit of romance attached to the end The story and characters take time to build The mystery is a very good one I was pretty stumped Klassen wrote this so you would suspect everyone Even the sweet leading lady who I knew could not have done it It was a very well done book I just felt like the characters got lost to the mystery with this one and I am all about the characters This is very chaste, there is a murder and attempted murders and some good bad guys This is also a Christian novel, but you wouldn t know that till almost the end of the book. Did she believe God was loving She wanted to trust, but fear and worry all too often won out I have been a Julie Klassen fan since her very first book, which I have read several times Her Regencies are perfect and the mystery she throws in completes them I was drawn in immediately here and continually kept trying to find the culprit Her characters are great and the plot was also the same and the build up to the ending was superb Recommended My thanks to Bethany House Publishers for a preview copy of this book via Net Galley The opinions stated here are entirely my own. This is unquestionably a murder mystery, complete with all the trappings red herrings, lies, sketchy alibis, and an abundance of suspects and motives, but set firmly in Regency era England The mystery is definitely what drives the plot, and I didn t feel it had the emotional depth and impact of some of the author s other novels, but the constant spiritual thread about anxiety and placing one s trust in God was certainly timely for me While I preferred Klassen s Gothic stories The Tutor s Daughter, The Secret of Pembrooke Park to this one, it was an enjoyable foray into the classic mystery genre If you re a fan of cozy mysteries, you won t be disappointed Thank you Bethany House and NetGalley for the complimentary e book I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own. A quaint, rather remote island in the Thames River sets the stage for Julie Klassen s latest Regency tale Suspense, intrigue, and romance add to the essence of this captivating story After getting rather publicly humiliated during a trial, Benjamin Booker gladly accepts the challenge of going to the country and investigating Ms Isabelle Wilder, purported to be a possible suspect in the death of her guardian, Mr Norris, the senior partner at Mr Booker s law firm Benjamin finds himself drawn into life on the island, making his investigation a bit challenging than he planned As the story unfolds and details come to light, the suspect list develops as do the motives The main characters each have their own distinct issues to deal with adding to the complexity of the story I thoroughly enjoyed the plot twists that added depth to the intrigue There were definitely a couple of things I didn t see coming A great read that will draw you in at the beginning and keep your interest all the way through An intriguing little mystery that will surprise you, followed by a delightful ending filled with family, faith, and romance This ARC copy was received from Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley.com The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own TheBridgetoBelleIsland NetGalley First she pulled me into a haunting, gothic romance and most recently inviting me into a delightful village to save an old coaching inn For this occasion, she introduces an island estate on the Thames and a mystery tying it to a dark deed done in London driving me to high expectation Julie Klassen is a deft hand at taking the reader back to the Regency Era with her engaging characters and the gentle flow of story that passes quickly leaving the reader is left well satisfied, but still wanting at the end.Young lawyer, Benjamin Booker, has just experienced a humiliating loss in court when the client he thought innocent had charmed him into risking all to defend her and it turned out she had utterly lied He feels that he has disappointed his mentor at the firm and took a hard hit to his confidence in reading people and situations However, he soon has the opportunity to prove himself to his mentor, Mr Hardy, when Mr Hardy wants justice for the death of his former colleague at the firm who lately held the position of trustee for the Wilder family and was murdered in their London Town House.Isabelle Wilder has seen a great deal of tragic death in her family and it has left her with a neurosis that won t allow her to leave her island family home for years now She is sorry to miss her niece s engagement party in London because of her own weakness and has a terrible dream that their skin flint trustee was murdered Then, a skeptical lawyer from the family firm shows up both to sort their legal matters, but to investigate the death with her as chief suspect It was a dream, right She has nothing to hide, she hopes, so welcomes Mr Booker to Belle Island and invites him into her life there where he starts to mellow until disturbing facts start to come to light leading right to her door.In my mind, there can be nothing better than a murder mystery paired with the author s Regency world The murder mystery drove much of the plot and was a solid, twisting one that had me pointing the finger a few different directions.But, it is not the only element The main characters who shared the narration are given sympathetic and flawed backstories that affect the present Isabelle is confronted by not trusting her safety if she leaves the island as a result of not coming to peace with past loss and Benjamin by his issues of inadequacy because he was never good enough with his father and because he didn t take up the family medical practice This is where the inspirational element is strongest as they work through their issues and rely on their beliefs and promises in Scripture to aid them.The attention to historical background and the island setting was well done as usual I enjoyed learning about life on the island estate that was on the Thames The growing of the willow reeds for the basket weaving that was their prime income besides the sheep herd was fascinating, but never tedious There is also focus on how criminal investigation was handled in those pre CSI days and on trusteeships and their effect on single gentlewomen.As to the romance, ah yes, both Isabelle and Benjamin had me hoping The attraction was there, but also some barriers to make it interesting Benjamin has stiff competition from Isabelle s childhood friend, the village doctor, and her former love interest in the past there is a strong whiff of Jane Austen s Persuasion with this story thread At first, they are warily circling one another because Ben doesn t trust women not to trick him and Isabelle is still a prime suspect Isabelle feels her issues will keep her single all her life even as she wistfully admires Benjamin who is London born and bred I enjoyed the halting progress and sweetness of what built between them through harrowing moments and then the time of reflection at the end.All in all, The Bridge to Belle Island was another winner from an auto buy author If you love sweet Regency Romance, but want the spice of a cunning murder mystery, this book is for you. The story begins in a courtroom, introducing Benjamin Booker in 1819 Benjamin Booker sat in the Old Bailey, pulse pounding His most important case to date had finally been called to trial his chance to prove himself to the firm s partners Things don t go as planned The partners are not impressed with Benjamin and one of the partners turns up dead, Benjamin suspects there s foul play His partner tells him to go to Belle Island and deliver the news to the relatives See for yourself how they react Everyone s a suspect The story is told through the eyes of Mr Benjamin Booker a lawyer chasing down leads in the murder of one of the partners in the firm His senior partner tells him to go to Belle Island and see what he can find.I love how the author shines the spotlight on many of the people in the story and their motives Just when Benjamin was getting close to solving this puzzle, another body shows up with a different set of circumstances it suggests a cover up.The author says, Belle Island is a fictional place, but it is something of a composite of the islands I researched Physically, it resembles Ray Mill Island near Maidenhead, Berkshire, which I ve had the pleasure of visiting a few times Named after the Ray Family, who once operated a flour mill there, the island is now a public park with lovely gardens and wooded paths the opening court room scene is based loosely on an actual trial transcript from the Old Bailey, through the names have been changed Benjamin meets Isabelle she s a beauty who s never left the Island after her parents death She struggles with a dream she had about the deceased partner It was almost like she was there It is of the murder that Benjamin Books has come to tell her about How could she have such a dream She never leaves the island.This author does a great job of taking readers on a grand adventure to a beautiful Island and I enjoyed getting to know the community It almost felt like a Sherlock Holmes mystery It s a complex story that had me guessing up till the end I loved getting to know the Island it s people and that time period.The author includes 10 discussion questions to help with your book club discussion time This would make a fun book to discuss at your next book club meeting.Disclosure of Material Connection I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Netgalley I was not required to write a positive review The opinions I have expressed are my own I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission s 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising Nora St LaurentTBCN Where Book Fun Begins www.bookfun.org The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com REGENCY MYSTERY 1819, London Thirty one year old Benjamin Booker is an attorney who has risked everything for a female client he fully believes is innocent But, when he loses her case, his whole world comes to a crashing halt.Distraught and frustrated he meets up with his boss at a local pub to discuss the case and his future As they head out, they discover a scene at the home of Percival Norris, their retired colleague Further investigation leads to a dead body that will eventually take Benjamin on a journey to Belle Island, across the Thames and the village of Riverton where his boss has asked him to investigate Benjamin will do his best to remain objective and make his boss proud of him again Thirty year old Isabelle Wilder is trapped by fear on the island, but has learned to navigate enough to be mistress of the house, despite much of her funds being tied up in a trust She is respected by her employees and does her best to create jobs that will help provide for them Everything is fairly routine, except for a beloved niece whose upcoming nuptials pull at Isabelle s heart strings since the wedding will be off island When a stranger shows up to share the news of the death, everything changes.Benjamin and Isabelle will have to work together, but neither fully trusts and both have debilitating issues to deal with There is a murderer at large and threats move ever closer to the island as the story twists and turns.Favorite Quote Psalms leapt out at her God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea Though the waters roar and be troubled Lovely Tea Moment Isabelle and Carlota sat side by side on chaise lounges in the boathouse, the double doors thrown wide to reveal the morning sunshine shimmering on the gently rippling water of the Thames A tray of tea things sat on the small table between them, along with a plate of muffins Isabelle had tasted them herself and filled the kettle A leisurely morning was a rare luxury on Belle Island and Isabelle and Lotty were determined to enjoy it.I enjoyed 98% of this book I felt the ending suddenly stretched out in an odd way, but that is perhaps my own preference Overall, this is a very enjoyable book I would be happy to recommend Bethany House Publishing 12 3 2019This is a stand alone novel I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion with no further compensation or expectation. One of the best Julie Klassen books I ve ever read outside of Pembroke Hall But this one is my favorite by hers.It s quite a bit different from what I m used to reading by her but it s all good.The setting of this story is just right for what goes on in the book The way Julie writes I pictured myself there perfectly.I enjoyed reading about Isabelle Her struggles with anxiety reminds of of someone else I know We lived by a creek I ve seen that creek when it s flooded and the bridge we crossed wasn t solid like Isabelles was This was a swinging wooden bridge that we had to cross everyday no matter what It was really scary so I prayed every time we had to cross it I got dizzy when I looked down at that swirling water I had some sneaky suspicions throughout the book on who it was and I was right Sometimes people seem one way and then they disappoint you I ve been there many times.Like Isabelle I ve finally learned to put my trust in God Oh yes, I m still struggling with that for it s not easy because we think we can handle things on our own Not so There s a verse that I love and it s written as a choral hymn Our choir sang it once and it s stuck with me.God is our Refuge and Strength in times of trouble Though the mountains will fall we will not fear something like that.Benjamin is my favorite I love that he s flawed and along the way he too finally learns to listen and trust Listening especially isn t easy Too many times we have to learn the hard way just like Benjamin did I m just glad he didn t learn it too late Life is fragile We never know from one day to the next where it will take us It s why we should tell our loved ones that we love and appreciate them while they re here I know because all of my immediate family has passed away and like Isabelle I m the only one left When I lost my dad it was like I was out in limbo for a while Some days I still feel like that until I remember my Heavenly father who truly loves me for who I am I didn t find anything wrong with this book at all To me, it was written perfectly Even the cover is gorgeous I love it It s a wonderful hint as to what or whom the book might be about.I highly recommend this book NO compensations were received All opinions are my own. Benjamin Booker has failed He thought this important case would bring honor to his mentor s firm, instead, a beautiful face snookered him into believing a lie A lie that could cost the law firm s reputation Word travels fast in London, and Benjamin s court loss will surely confirm to his father and brother that he chose the wrong profession But Benjamin has no desire to work with sick or dead people as an apothcary or investigator He loves the law and all its nuances.In the wake of a shocking murder, Mr Hardy, Benjamin s mentor and boss, asks Benjamin to travel to Belle Island Mr Hardy has questions for the reclusive owner about the murder of her guardian and Mr Hardy s law firm partner, Percival Norris Benjamin agrees with alacrity anything to escape the gossip of London Even if the trip might bring on one of his episodes Isabelle Wilder hasn t left Belle Island in over ten years Ever since the tragic death of her parents, the thought of crossing the bridge from her island to the mainland fills her with physical anguish Isabelle works diligently to keep the estate afloat, but her guardian insists they need streams of revenue in order to keep the estate When Mr Booker shows up one day and questions her about her whereabouts on the night of her guardian s murder, Isabella knows she has the perfect alibi She hasn t left the island in ten years Everyone knows that But do they The Mr Booker pokes around, the Isabelle questions her own sanity Will he uncover the killer before people die This fast paced Regency mystery from Julie Klassen will keep readers guessing to the very end Klassen s characters may live in the 1800s, but they share common problems with today s reader believing false narratives, phobias, and struggles to reconcile a loving God with the tragedies that surround us. From gifted writer Julie Klassen comes a captivating novel of historical suspense set in England, intensively researched, with a sweeping plot that involves romance, betrayal, and murder Belle Island is rich in texture and full of color and authenticity, as the author paints a picture with words The premise for this book is interesting, somewhat unusual in certain aspects, and the characters are mostly proper, sometimes charming, sometimes rogues, and generally determined individuals Heroine Isabelle Wilder is a very sympathetic character We identify with her desire to pursue what she wants Belle Island without having to answer to her stuffy trustee The author also alludes to other restrictions of the time, showing that even men were hemmed in by the social contract of the period Isabelle s relationships with the various members of the family and island community play a large role in what makes visiting her world so compelling The atmosphere of the island is the perfect setting for a story where long buried family secrets come to light, and isolation fosters schemes for theft and revenge The story is a page turner, flowing smoothly from one mysterious event to the next I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
- 448 pages
- The Bridge to Belle Island
- Julie Klassen
- 23 February 2019 Julie Klassen