Title: The Sisters of Sea View (On Devonshire Shores Book #1)
Author: Julie Klassen
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Genre: Historical Christian/Inspirational Fiction, Historical Christian Romance, Regency Romance
Price: E-Book, 448 Pages, $11.39 [Amazon Paperback], $9.99 [Kindle], $7.49 [Audible], $14.99 [Barnes and Noble Paperback], $26.80 [Barnes and Noble Hardcover], $9.99 [Nook], $9.99 [Google Play], $9.99 [Apple Books], $16.99 [Apple Books Audiobook]
When their father’s death leaves them impoverished, Sarah Summers and her genteel sisters fear they will be forced to sell the house and separate to earn livelihoods as governesses or companions. Determined to stay together, Sarah convinces them to open their seaside home to guests to make ends meet and provide for their ailing mother. Instead of the elderly invalids they expect to receive, however, they find themselves hosting eligible gentlemen. Sarah is soon torn between a growing attraction to a mysterious Scottish widower and duty to her family.
Viola Summers wears a veil to cover her scar. When forced to choose between helping in her family’s new guest house and earning money to hire a maid to do her share, she chooses the latter. She reluctantly agrees to read to some of Sidmouth’s many invalids, preferring the company of a few elders with failing eyesight to the fashionable guests staying in their home. But when her first client turns out to be a wounded officer in his thirties, Viola soon wishes she had chosen differently. Her new situation exposes her scars–both visible and those hidden deep within–and her cloistered heart will never be the same.
Join the Summers sisters on the Devonshire coast, where they discover the power of friendship, loyalty, love, and new beginnings.
When tragedy suddenly strikes the Summers family, they have no choice but adapt to the situation. They have lost a beloved husband and father. Now Mrs. Summers and her four daughters (Sarah, Emily, Viola, and Georgiana) face the cruel reality of penury. What are five genteel females to do?
Help comes in the form of Miss Fran Stirling, a former lady’s maid who once served Mrs. Summers. She suggests that the Summers’s women let out the rooms of Sea View, the great house where they live in Sidmouth. The unwell Mrs. Summers and her daughter Viola initially balk at the idea, finding it to be beneath their dignity.
Sarah, the oldest of the four, is willing to do whatever needs to be done in order to ensure the survival of the family. Emily and Georgiana are willing to help her in this new endeavor. When new visitors come to Sea View, the young women of the Summers family find themselves surrounded by a colorful cast of characters. Sarah herself cannot deny her growing interest in a certain dashing Scottish widower.
When it comes to regency fiction, Julia Klassen is one of the best. As a reader, you can tell that she writes her books with such love and care. The Sisters of Sea View, the first installment in the “On Devonshire Shores” series, is absolutely no exception. It is a heartfelt and hopeful tale about a family of women who are fighting to stay together and survive despite their impoverished situation.
One of my favorite aspects about Ms. Klassen’s writing is her characterization. Her books always feature strong characters who are interesting and memorable. The characters in this book felt very genuine and realistic. Two such characters were the insecure Viola Summers and the irascible Major Jack Hutton. Viola, who has a palate cleft, is often discriminated against by superstitious people. Jack is a young man who has been in combat, and as a result, his body is marred by scars. He is currently recuperating from his war wounds and Viola is hired to read to him. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with these two characters.
My favorite character was Emily Summers, the twin sister of Viola, who helps tend to the guests at Sea View. I particularly enjoyed her playful and fun personality. Mr. Stanley, a visitor at Sea View, is another character I thoroughly liked. Some of my favorite scenes are where Emily is interacting with him.
The overall pacing of the story was steady for the most part. There were moments where the story did feel a bit slow. One area that Ms. Klassen excels at is bringing the world of Regency England to life. Her writing was atmospheric and immersive, showing the modern reader what would have happened in Sidmouth during that time period. I loved the extensive descriptions of the ocean and the seaside.
A nice touch is that Ms. Klassen includes quotes from classic literature and from her research at the start of each chapter. Additionally, I loved the author’s note. It is so interesting to hear about her inspirations, the research she conducted, and decisions that she made in the writing process. Finally, there were discussion questions at the very back of the book.
This was a delightful book to read and it really tugged at my heartstrings in so many ways. I am impatiently looking forward to the next book in the “On Devonshire Shores” series.