The Dancing Master

The Dancing Master

4.1 49
by Julie Klassen

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Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he's initially wary of Julia Midwinter


Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he's initially wary of Julia Midwinter's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul--and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master--a man her mother would never approve of--but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec's help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village...and to her mother's tattered heart?

Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a "good match" in Regency England.

Praise for Julie Klassen's The Tutor's Daughter

"Whether you're a fan of Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte, or both, you will soon become a fan of Julie Klassen once you read this wonderful book."--GoodReads

"Well-developed characters, plot twists, and attention to period detail make this a sure bet for fans of Regency novels."--Library Journal

"Regency/Klassen fans will love the mystery, romance, and drama."--Publishers Weekly

Discussion questions included.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
British village life in Beaworthy, Devonshire, in the early 19th century revolves around tradition for both the haves and the have-nots in Klassen’s (The Tutor’s Daughter) latest Regency historical. Lady Julia Midwinter is the young, headstrong daughter of the manor. Despite a wealth of friends and diversions, single Julia latches on to the town’s newly-arrived dancing master, a young, attractive man named Alec Valcourt, who came to Beaworthy under somewhat mysterious circumstances with his mother and sister. Unfortunately for Alec, Julia’s mother, Lady Amelia Midwinter, has long decreed that dancing is prohibited in the village—particularly at the May Day celebration. Alec and Julia must navigate the intricacies of their responsibilities while remaining true to themselves. Passionate storytelling and intriguing mystery are overshadowed by the relationship between the eminently unlikable Julia and her mother. Their contentious relationship, while explained, comes across as overly contrived. A rather large and delightful cast of secondary characters serves to bolster the plot and provide the occasional bit of levity to a well-written book that is less engaging than Klassen’s usual work. Agency: Books & Such Literary Agency. (Jan.)

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Baker Publishing Group
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Meet the Author

Three-time Christy Award winner Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota. Learn more at
JULIE KLASSEN loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full-time. Three of her books, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. The Secret of Pembrooke Park was honored with the Minnesota Book Award for genre fiction. Julie has also won the Midwest Book Award and Christian Retailing's BEST Award, and has been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards and ACFW's Carol Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit

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The Dancing Master 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
CharityU-Austenite More than 1 year ago
Delightfully packed with mystery and romance! And one of the best things is that all of this is set in a place reminiscent of Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte. And one special little touch…I checked on the back cover and there was Pemberley, from the 1995 Pride and Prejudice! That may or may not have made my day just a little bit. So cool. Anyway, the heroine was sweet yet spicy – a delightful combination. And I mentioned that it’s packed with mystery – you will have trouble putting this book down! The words that Julie chose to use are perfect for the setting – I was impressed. This book is all-around a delightful read that I recommend for Regency lovers! **Bethany House Publishers sent me this book in return for my honest review. All opinions and thoughts are my own. I was not recompensed for this review, or forced to post positively.**
busymomoftwo More than 1 year ago
The Dancing Master is a well-written period piece. There is so much of the story that you could spoil by sharing details, so I will suffice to say that the story had me laughing and crying and really feeling connected with the characters. I found that The Dancing Master has a nice pace, has strong, well developed characters that you can't help but enjoy and really pulls you in. Early on, you start to discover that some of the characters have interesting, unexpected back stories as you begin to uncover hints about their mysterious pasts. These nuggets keep you wanting to read so that you can learn more about what their history really is and how it has impacted not only them, but those around them. As you continue to read, you find that you are able to start to piece the puzzle together, but just as you think you have figured out the picture, a small piece will lead you to discover that the picture you were envisioning was not complete. The story is filled with drama and insights of character, love, pride, relationships, forgiveness, faith and more. This is a book that I would certainly recommend that you read, especially if you are a fan of period literature and the works of Jane Austen and her era. The Dancing Master is a stand alone work, as are the other books by Julia Klassen. I definitely would seek out and read more of her books based on my reading experience of The Dancing Master.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have loved all of Mrs. Klassen's books in the past.  Every one of them.  I wait for every January for a new book.  However, I just could  not get into this book.  I tried and tried and tried again.  Just not caring for the main male character.  So, I will wait for next January!
booksandwindows More than 1 year ago
When I read the premise of this book, I immediately thought of ‘Footloose.’ There are undertones in this story that remind me of the movie, however The Dancing Master is able to distinguish itself as a solid novel distinct from the movie. The town of Devonshire is shrouded in secrets and mystery. When Alec Valcourt arrives with his family, he is surprised to learn that dancing is not allowed. How can he support his family if his skills and profession is unnecessary in this town? And why is dancing not allowed? But these are not all the secrets that surround the town; these secrets run deep and are hidden from scrutiny. And what about Alec? He and his family seem to have their own past that they wish to keep hidden. With so many secrets threatening to come to the surface, will the truth ever be spoken? All the mystery surrounding the town and people of Devonshire is intriguing. The many unknowns of this book are withheld from the reader until the very end, when things slowly begin to be revealed. Alec’s character was hard-working, strong, and caring. He persevered and was devoted to his family. Julia’s character was reckless and flirtatious. It was difficult to feel for her for a majority of the book. However, Alec is able to see past her outward appearance. He understood that her behavior was a façade, and beneath it, Alec saw her insecurities and her vulnerable heart and cared for her. The mystery is what brings this story to life. Julie Klassen writes a beautiful story filled with complex characters in this Regency era novel. *I was provided a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.*
KarenLange More than 1 year ago
Unfortunate circumstances prompt dancing master Alex Valcourt to move from London to Beaworthy in the fall of 1816. After moving, Alex learns there is a ban on dancing in the small village. To support his mother and sister, he reluctantly secures a position as clerk for Lady Amelia Midwinter. Julia Midwinter is restless. She prefers horseback riding and flirting with young men to fitting into polite society. Lady Amelia has high expectations for her, as Julia is the sole heir to the Midwinter estate. Alex’s and Julia’s paths intersect more than Lady Amelia would like and the two become friends. As they both wrestle with new discoveries, Alex learns his past may affect his future. Julia finds her heritage contains unexpected fragments. The Dancing Master is a tale of friendships and secrets that held my attention from the start. I found myself nestled within the story, enjoying the characters while trying to solve the mysteries within. This story is a masterful example, in my opinion, of what good historical fiction should be. From a reader’s standpoint, I enjoyed it tremendously. From a writer’s perspective, I learned from and appreciated the depth of characters and the flow and layers of the plot. Klassen’s flair for realistic characters, engaging storyline, and rich detail rests on every page. The Dancing Master is a dance, an exquisite, perfectly timed tale of mystery, love, redemption, and forgiveness. It is one of the few books that I’d consider reading again someday.
Jaquelyn More than 1 year ago
A refreshing trip to the past.  I really enjoyed this book, and had a hard time putting it down.  Klassen did her research and obviously knew what she was talking about.  I loved getting to know the characters, and was rooting for them the whole time.  It was nice to read a book where someone wasn't in love with their town, and wasn't in a hurry to get married.  The characters in this book had real problems, and grew while learning to deal with them.  The characters also learn to forgive, and that you should never jump to conclusions without hearing both sides of the story.  They are far from perfect which made them really easy to relate to.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves historical romance.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed it very much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. I liked reading a book with dancing in it. I had a hard time putting it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the worse Julie Klassen book I  have read...very boring. Just couldn't get into the book or cared for characters. 
Mischief_Managed More than 1 year ago
Over the past few years I have read all of Julie Klassen's books. I have enjoyed all of them, and this one is no exception. The character's are all well developed and so well described, I can see them moving and "dancing" in my head. I highly recommend this book to all fans of good Historical Christian Fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sprinkle23 More than 1 year ago
Julia Midwinter's youth and vitality often stand in opposition to her mother's rules. As village matriarch, Julia's mother has prohibited all forms of dancing. This seemingly harsh rule is shrouded in family secrets, including the deaths of Julia's aunt and uncle. By natural curiosity and rebellion, Julia is drawn to Alec Valcourt, the newly arrived dancing master from London. However, Alec's past also proves dark and messy and he's certainly not the type of man Julia's mother would approve of.  Will Alec and Julia both discover the truths about their pasts so that they can embrace the future with hope? Read more in The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen. The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen is a stand-alone novel set in early nineteenth century England. The mystery of Julia's past hooked my attention and kept me wondering how all the people and events fit together. For me, this is what kept the story flowing as I didn't find the characters as captivating as I expected. By the author's intention, I suspect, Julia's character was hard to like in the beginning. However, even after Julia's internal motivations became more clear and she began to develop as a character, I still found it difficult to like her. Lastly, someone mentioned to me that it sounds like a take-off of Footloose. However, I've never seen the movie, so I can't really speak that. I don't discourage anyone from reading the book, but I do recommend borrowing from the library before purchasing. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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."
BrittanyMc More than 1 year ago
The Dancing Master is the first book by Julie Klassen that I have read. I thoroughly enjoyed this peek into Regency England. I love historical fiction and this is one of the eras that I especially enjoy reading about. The setting is a quaint, little town named Beaworthy. Julia Midwinter and Alec Valcourt are the main characters. Alec has relocated to Beaworthy with his mother and sister after some sort of scandal has obviously forced them out of London. He plans to open a dancing and fencing school in Beaworthy. But therein lies a problem. Dancing is no longer tolerated in this little town. Julia could be viewed as a spoiled little rich girl at the beginning of the novel. I suppose this would be accurate, however, I actually still liked Julia, even when she was acting out. I felt so sorry for the hurt she internalized from a father who didn’t want anything to do with her. Her acting out and flirting made sense to me when looked upon with the knowledge of this insecurity she carried around with her. The author did such a wonderful job of creating deep and interesting characters. I really enjoyed the flashbacks in the book. In these scenes, we have the opportunity to see the past through Julia’s mother’s eyes as it is happening. It opens little windows into the story and hints at the underlying scandals that rocked their family. The Dancing Master is a well-written novel. The romance is sweet and light, yet definitely grows throughout the story. Main characters and side characters are all very interesting. I really enjoyed the way the author was able to unfurl the mysteries one little bit at a time throughout the story, letting me know just enough to keep me wondering and reading on. The descriptions of the dances were beautiful and I felt that I could really see them dancing. After reading this book, I am looking forward to reading more of Julie Klassen’s novels. I received a complimentary copy of The Dancing Master from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.
Writingsof_Rosie More than 1 year ago
Not the best novel from Klassen, though it's still a good read.   I always look forward to Miss Klassen's new book every year, though I must admit, this one let me down a little. The plot reminded me faintly of Footloose with a regency twist, but in reality there isn't much in common between the two beyond the lack-or unspoken outlaw-of dancing in Beaworthy, Devon. It was certainly a unique twist for a regency novel, although the reasons behind it felt lacking when revealed. The one aspect of Beaworthy I really liked was the depth to all the residents we meet. I adored Miss Tickle and Mr. and Mrs. Desmond. As for other supporting characters, the Allens and Mr. Barlow were also favorites of mine. I do wish we could have seen more of Aurora, her character intrigues me, nonetheless I understand why we didn't.  All this brings me to the leading hero and heroine, Alec and Julia. I liked the focus on Alec's perspective a lotl probably because I didn't enjoy Julia's personality until closer to the end. Alec himself is not the usual hero you find when you dig into the pages of a regency novel, though he is far from perfect. Julia, on the other hand, got under my skin in a bad way. I pitied her situation, but it took most of the book for me to grow to like her. Most of the time she acted so recklessly that I wanted to ground her into the next century, but somehow Miss Klassen redeemed her and made her likable. Overall, The Dancing Master ranks low for me, when compared to Miss Klassen's other books. However, I still believe that fans of Regency stories such as Jane Eyre and Pride & Prejudice will enjoy Miss Klassen's latest. There is talk of men and women sleeping together out of wedlock and in one instance, it results with a child. Nothing goes into detail. Though The Dancing Master didn't quite come up to par, I still enjoyed spending time in Beaworthy.  I received this book from Bethany House in return for an honest review of my opinions, which I have done. 
WildflowerMom More than 1 year ago
Fans of Regency fiction will enjoy this tale set in 1815 England. Like wading into a river, it's a bit muddy and slow at first, but it picks up in the middle and carries you through to the end with a bit of mystery and romance swirling around. Not my favorite book by this author--takes a little more patience to get into it--worth the effort though. Recommend reading her earlier works, especially The Tutor's Daughter, to fully appreciate this wonderful author. 3.5 stars
StaceyZink More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book and loved several of the characters, but I had a hard time relating to the main heroine Julia. I did enjoy the love story between Alec and Julia. It was well written and I loved how she weaved the dance elements into the story line. I think my favorite character was Lady Amelia. She was full of surprises, a very complex character who should have been given her own book. I enjoyed reading this book and appreciate being given a copy from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. 
tmurrell2 More than 1 year ago
Alec Valcourt has left London in disgrace. His mother and sister join him as he moves in with his uncle in a small town. Alec is a dancing master, but soon learns that dancing is not allowed by the patron of the town. He's left with very few choices for employment. He quickly makes friends, but when he befriends the daughter of the town patron things began to get complicated. I was really looking forward to reading this book. The cover was perfect, the description sounded interesting, and I've read and enjoyed books by this author before. But it was not meant to be. It took me forever to get into the book. It just seemed to plod along with nothing happening. I couldn't relate to the two main characters and the story lacked any real plot at first. The writing was good, but the characters and lack of plot were what made this just an okay book. If the two main characters were gone and several of the secondary characters had more of a place I would have really enjoyed the book since I like reading about this time period. Another small annoyance (that I probably wouldn't have even noticed had I been enjoying the book) were the awkward placement of the quotes about dancing masters at the beginning of each chapter. Instead of giving some insight into what was coming in the next chapter, they seemed to focus on the chapter I had just finished. For some reason this just really detracted from the story for me. In summary, it wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't what I was expecting from this author. I received this book free of charge from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.
Justpeachy1 More than 1 year ago
Julie Klassen's latest release, The Dancing Master is a novel that historical romance and Christian fiction enthusiasts alike will come to love. The impeccable research and a well delivered plot, of this novel will endear fans quickly to Klassen's writing style. She is able to evoke feelings of nostalgia, and makes several nods to some of the great writers like Jane Austen. The Dancing Master is a feast for the senses as Klassen's descriptions show a lot of attention to detail. A great novel, but a wonderful novelist! What I liked: Julie Klassen's novels have always been favorites of mine. Most Christian/Inspirational books come in a series or trilogy. Klassen however has always done single titles which shows a lot of confidence in her ability to bring her characters to life. She only has one shot and she certainly makes the best of it. She doesn't have to rely on perhaps doing better with the next book in the series. It's often a refreshing change in the genre. It is obvious that Klassen does a lot of research for her books. She has the time period and the customs down to a science. There was not one slip in character or in the dialogue from how characters who actually lived in the time would act or what they would say. Klassen does a remarkable job of transporting the reader back in time and does not break from that time long past until the book finishes. A great fete for any author. I loved Alec Valcourt as the hero in this book. I know that many of the leading families during this time period made sure that their children were taught all of the necessary graces of which dancing and music were one. I liked that Alec had an unusual profession and a heart of gold. He is trying to establish himself in a new place because of the ruin of his father, but he also still trying to live his dreams as well. I thought he was insightful and brave to take the stands that he did against the leading family of Beaworthy who did not allow dancing. Such a great character. I also very much enjoyed the mystery behind why dancing was not allowed and how that played into the story. It gave it a unique and original feel that is sometimes lacking in historical romance. The themes can get a bit predictable, and I thought The Dancing Master stood out as different and fresh. What I didn't like: Unfortunately, there were a few things I didn't like about this one. And one of them happened to be the heroine. Julia Midwinter, just did not sit well with me. She was somewhat unlikable. Though she did improve under the watchful eye of Alec, she was still a bit simpering. I just did not connect with her at all. That's a rare thing for me. The Christian/Inspirational message that is usually the underlying theme of books of this kind was all but missing in this one. What few references there were to it seemed a bit contrived and not essential to the story line. That's something I have never seen in a Julie Klassen novel before, so that was a bit surprising. Bottom Line: I was a little disappointed with some aspects of the book and delighted with others. I wanted more of a faith message and I did not like the heroine, but the research in this novel was unparalleled and Klassen has such a way with description. Don't take my word for it... read it and see!
parmilespages More than 1 year ago
The Dancing Master takes place in 1816 in Beaworthy, a small town in Devonshire, England where Alec Valcourt, a London dance master, discovers the only profession he is trained and skilled in, is prohibited.  It chronicles the people he meets and the challenges he faces as he strives to make a living to support his mother and sister.  This story is well written and interesting.  Ms. Klassen doesn’t waste any details in her books.  Every sentence is important to the story and contributes to the overall narrative.   Her characters are normal and flawed individuals with mistakes in their past but they grow and mature through the duration of the story.  The story includes some mystery and intrigue keeping the reader guessing about elements of the plot and carefully reading for clues.  I appreciate her attention to detail in regard to the time period.  It is evident the author does extensive research to make certain her facts and settings are accurate.  Before each chapter is a quote from a person or excerpt from a book, written during that specific time period, which also serves, as a hint regarding what is about to happen.   I liked how the author tied the prologue and epilogue together by beginning with the same sentence but also indicating the change that had occurred during the length of the novel.  However, I also felt the epilogue forced the resolution of some of the aspects of the story too quickly.   I would highly recommend this book if you like romantic historical fiction, which is complex and realistic.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.  
PianoLady831 More than 1 year ago
To put it quite simply, I have loved every book that I've read by Julie Klassen, and The Dancing Master is no exception. Julie's prose is beautiful and the descriptions of village life are excellent. Her research must have been extensive and the historical quotes at the beginning of each chapter are a great touch. The Dancing Master might seem long to some - and while there's mystery, the action is not fast paced - but I savored every moment spent in its pages. The setting is Devonshire, England in 1816, and the Prologue sets the stage for what's to come with this beautiful picture: "From behind the market hall, an old man hobbled into view. He tossed aside his apron and bowed before the woman. And she in turn curtsied. She gave him a girlish smile, and decades flew from her face." As a pianist and someone who loves to watch ballroom dancing, I found much enjoyment is the descriptions of various dances. Memories of playing Beethoven's "Minuet in G" quickly came to mind as I read through a scene where the minuet was taught. Julie's writing makes it easy to visualize these scenes so that these stately dances really come alive. Alec and Julia are quite complex characters and I really liked how most of the narrative is from Alec's point of view. The dancing master is a unique character . . . Dancing was such an important part of society that dance masters were sought after and mixed freely with the elite, knowing all the while that they could never be considered equals and were therefore looked down upon by the very ladies they were teaching. Julia initially comes across as selfish, self-centered and reckless, but as her past is slowly uncovered, we see and welcome a gradual transformation. The unusual and enthusiastic worship of a group called the Bryanites added much to the story, for dance was the expression of their joy and praise. While watching them in one scene, Alec wondered: "How long had it been since he had communed with his Creator with half the sincerity and fervor of these people?" But it is the character of Johnny Desmond who will linger in my thoughts. Mysterious, flawed, talented as a blacksmith and musician both, a man with a surprisingly deep faith - for it is he who points out to Julia that she is a "child of the King." And in their conversation, he states simply: "I don't know how religious I am, but I know I'd be lost without Christ." The theme of God's love and grace is woven throughout this story, in a way that blends in simply with the storyline. Readers who like a Regency setting, strong characterization and entertaining story will enjoy The Dancing Master. Rating of 5 stars, based on the rating criteria on the sidebar. Definitely recommended! Thank you to Litfuse Publicity and Bethany House for providing a copy of The Dancing Master in exchange for my honest review.
ruthhill74 More than 1 year ago
When I delved into this book, I couldn't help but think of the modern story "Footloose." This is almost a historical Christian version of that story (side note--I never did see that movie--I just could not get into it.) And I will say that this alone made the book intriguing and entertaining. Added to this was some well-written mystery that was not resolved until almost the last page. For the most part, this follows the typical historical romance formula, but it has enough uniqueness that I think it will capture the interest of readers. While there are these definite positives, I do have a couple of issues with the book. This is one book I wish would have ended differently. I sometimes grow weary of the "happily ever after" philosophy. I didn't care that much for Julia, and I did not find the transformation of her family all that believable. I think Patience would have been a better protagonist, but maybe I identified with her personality more than I did Julia's. My biggest complaint is the Christian message. From the outset, the gospel message was practically nonexistent. While the story is clean, the gospel message was awkwardly inserted about two-thirds of the way into the book. I prefer this message to be woven into the framework of the story rather that sticking out like a sore thumb. Furthermore, the Christian message was very watered down and quite confusing. If the reader was not already saved or familiar with the gospel, I don't think this would speak to him/her. I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.