Always a fan of Jane Austen books and those imagining what the stories might look like if they went on and on. I am so grateful for those imagining minds.
THE SECRET OF PEMBROOKE PARK is from Julie Klassen and is on tour from February 16, 2015 through 11:59 pm PT, March 9, 2015. It is my first novel from Klassen and I am definitely going to return to one of her many other published novels.
This Regency book starts in the Spring 0f 1818 with lead character Abigail Foster fearful she will become a spinster. Her heart has been broken by a man who has fallen for her sister.
In poor financial straits the Fosters head to London to see if another season will produce a much-needed alliance for Abigail and the family. The family has the opportunity to stay at an abandoned estate Pembrooke Park and while it was abruptly abandoned it seems the house holds secrets and many treasures…open its pages to find out more.
Chapter Five (Excerpt)
That night, Abigail went up to bed early, weary from sleeping so poorly the night before and hoping she would sleep better her second night at Pembrooke Park.
Polly helped her undress, cheerfully chatting about church—“Mr. Chapman preaches the shortest sermons. Witty too. Some folks don’t appreciate it, but I do . . .”—and about the afternoon she and Molly had spent with her parents and brothers out on their family farm. She also mentioned Duncan had just returned from visiting his mother in Ham Green, several miles away. As Abigail listened to the girl’s happy account, she was glad she had heeded Mac’s advice and given the servants the day off.
After Polly left, Abigail crawled into bed with a book she’d found in the library—a history of the Pembrooke family and manor. But she’d read only a few pages before her eyelids began drooping. She set aside the book and blew out her bedside candle. Lying there, Abigail thought back on the day’s conversation with Mr. Chapman. They had touched on so many topics—family and fear and church . . . .
Engulfed in darkness, her ears focused sharply, trying to catalogue every sound. For once identified, she would no longer need to fret about it. That howl? The wind through the fireplace flue. That rattle? A window shaken by the wind. Telling herself she would grow used to the sounds in time, she determinedly pulled the bedclothes to her chin, pressed her eyes closed, and willed sleep to come.
Then she heard something new. A creak, like a door opening nearby. Probably only Polly, she thought, checking to see if the windows in the master bedchamber had been shut after yesterday’s airing.
Faint footsteps reached her ears. In the corridor outside her room? No—it sounded more muffled, like footsteps on carpet and not wood. Was it coming from the next room? The room on that side of the wall was to be Louisa’s. Why would anyone be in there, when they hadn’t even started cleaning it yet?
A scrape—like a chair leg across wood? She was probably imagining things. It was likely only a simple creak of the house, of damp, warped walls and floorboards. After all, it was well past working hours and a Sunday yet.
Sleep, she told herself, closing her eyes again. Fear not.
In the morning, Abigail was still sound asleep when Polly came in with hot water and a breakfast tray.
“Oh. Sorry, Polly. I intended to be up before you came.” Abigail pushed back the bedclothes and hurried to the washstand. “I didn’t sleep well last night. The house makes any odd noises. Have you noticed?”
“What sort of noises?” Polly asked.
“Oh, you know. Creaks and groans. Though last night I heard footsteps, long after you had gone to bed.”
“You likely imagined it.” The girl’s eyes twinkled. “Or perhaps the place is haunted, like the village children say it is.”
“Haunted?” Abigail echoed, drying her face. “By whom? I suppose my father and I have angered some ghost of Pembrooke past by moving in here?”
“Well, someone did die here twenty years ago. Was killed some say. Probably his ghost that does the haunting.”
“Who died here?” Abigail asked. “One of the Pembrooke family?” She recalled Mr. Chapman saying a Robert Pembrooke died twenty years ago.
Polly’s mouth slackened, face growing pale. “No, miss. I never said a word about the Pembrookes, did I? Please don’t tell anyone otherwise. I don’t know anything about the family. How could I? I was talkin’ about a servant—that’s all.”
Abigail regarded the young woman, surprised by her panic. Hoping to lighten the moment, she teased, “Which servant? A cheeky housemaid?”
But the girl did not smile. “No, miss. Robert Pembrooke’s valet. Walter something, I heard his name was, but that’s the last word I’ll say on the subject. I’ve said too much already.”
Abigail blinked. “Very well, Polly.”
The housemaid stepped to the closet. “My mouth will be the death of me yet, and you don’t want me hauntin’ the place, flapping my ghostly lips all night. Now, let’s get you dressed. . . .”
When Abigail left her bedchamber a short while later, she paused at the door of the room that would be Louisa’s. The door was closed, as it had been the day before. She opened the latch and inched it open, the mounting creak familiar. Is that what she’d heard last night?
At first glance the room seemed undisturbed. But then, in the morning light slanting through the unshuttered windows, she saw something. She frowned and bent to look closer. Yes, unmistakable. Footprints in the dust, all the way to the wardrobe. She had not even bothered to look inside yet, but someone had. The footprints appeared notably larger than her small shoes. So probably not one of the housemaids checking the windows.
Might it have been their manservant, Duncan? She didn’t like the idea of a man roaming about a lady’s bedchamber at night. Though she supposed he might have checked the windows as a favor to Polly, whom he seemed eager to help. But what business had he opening a wardrobe in an unoccupied room at night?
I thank Laurel Ann Nattress for inviting me to participate in this tour. If you are a Jane fan or like this excerpt visit her blog to see who you have missed and to follow the tour: Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog
Hope you are still reading as there is a giveaway:
Grand Giveaway Contest
Win One of Four Fabulous Prizes
In celebration of the release of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, four chances to win copies of Julie’s books and other Jane Austen-inspired items are being offered.
Three lucky winners will receive one trade paperback or eBook copy of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, and one grand prize winner will receive one copy of all eight of Julie’s novels: Lady of Milkweed Manor, The Apothecary’s Daughter, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, The Tutor’s Daughter, The Dancing Master, and The Secret of Pembrooke Park, one DVD of Northanger Abbey (2007) and a Jane Austen Action Figure.
To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on The Secret of Pembrooke Park Blog Tour starting February 16, 2015 through 11:59 pm PT, March 9, 2015. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Julie Klassen’s website on March 16, 2015. Winners have until March 22, 2015 to claim their prize. The giveaway contest is open to residents of the US, UK, and Canada. Digital books will be sent through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Good luck to all!
To find out more about the author Julie Klassen visit her website: http://www.julieklassen.com/News%20&%20Events.html