Julie Klassen. Lady Maybe. New York, NY: Berkley Books, 2015.
Do you ever find yourself picking up a book simply because you recognize the author? It’s one of the ways that I look for upcoming books in the library, online, or while searching publishers’ websites. Earlier this year, Julie Klassen announced a new partnership with a non-Christian publisher, in addition to her works through Bethany House. This month’s new release, Lady Maybe, is her first book released with Berkley Books (Penguin Random House).
Lady Maybe takes place in Regency-era England, where a knighted gentleman, his wife, and her companion set off on a journey together. When tragedy strikes and they become separated, one of the ladies loses her memory of the entire event. After being rescued by a neighboring doctor and his son, the travelers attempt to piece together the truth behind their accident, in order to figure out the truth about their location and circumstances. In a case of mistaken identity, one of the travelers must choose between accepting their new circumstances or facing the truth that could damage her reputation forever, while the others must face the consequences of long-held secrets.
Filled with twists and turns until the very end, Lady Maybe introduces acclaimed Christian author Julie Klassen to a new, broader audience, who will fall in love with her exceptional storytelling and intriguing characters. The novel brings together a fascinating cast, who discover the power of forgiveness and the dangerous consequences of their secrets.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading Lady Maybe. Typically, I solely read fiction released by Christian publishers. However, I was willing to take a chance on a book by Julie Klassen, a well-established author known for her Christian Regency-era romances. The novel contains some themes that would normally not be found in most Christian fiction, particularly adultery and some physically-romantic scenes (although nothing that would be considered graphic). It actually reminded me of several themes utilized in Ms. Klassen’s debut novel, Lady of Milkweed Manor, particularly an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Personally, these themes made that novel my least favorite out of her works. Within the format of a non-Christian publisher, I was rather impressed at the novel’s relative cleanliness in terms of content. I also appreciated the inclusion of some Christian references, which made for a much stronger story and character development that resulted in a satisfying, if not unexpected, conclusion.
Readers who enjoy Ms. Klassen’s other works may find it worthwhile to try Lady Maybe. Fans who appreciate historical fiction that integrates eras and themes from the works of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters may also enjoy this novel. As a cross-over attempt between Christian and non-Christian publishers, I think it will generate interest from both groups of readers. In general, Ms. Klassen’s strong writing and intriguing characters carried the novel, even though it felt denser than her other books and had some themes that may not appeal to her typical Christian audience.
Julie Klassen’s next novel, The Painter’s Daughter, will be released by Bethany House Publishers in December 2015.