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Mariah Aubrey lives in seclusion with her secrets. Will an ambitious captain uncover her identity and her hidden past?

IMO: Have you ever gotten about two-thirds of the way through a novel and screamed in your head, “No! I won’t be ready for this one to end.”?

I’ll admit I’m a little late to the story of Mariah and Matthew. The Girl in the Gatehouse released in 2010, but yes, better late than never. This is a novel I heard a great deal about when it hit the bookshelves. Though it’s my first Julie Klassen book, it more than earned my desire to read her other works.

Set in 1813 England, this Regency revolves around a woman caught in an indelicate position, summarily rejected by both the Ton and her father. The latter banishes her to a relative’s estate. But indiscretion is not the only secret Mariah tries to keep from others.

The hero, Matthew Bryant, has his own past problem with love. It leads him to the estate on which Mariah lives in the gatehouse. His determination to prove himself worthy to others threatens his fortunes and his relationship with Mariah.

Ms. Klassen tells the story in the gentle way of the Jane Austin she admires. In some ways, the revelation of Mariah’s mistake is a little shocking. I kept waiting for the author to gloss over it as a kind of “misunderstanding” where circumstances were not as they seemed. But Julie Klassen does such a great job in building the reader’s sympathy toward Mariah, that her character and remorse leave us to cheer for her and not judge her.

The novel contains a number of subplots involving orphans and old loves, each wrapped up at the end. The only negative I found to this book was the epilogue. Compared to the rest of the novel, it seemed rushed in wrapping up those subplots. I would have liked to have seen the first scene of the epilogue as an actual chapter and expanded, letting us sink more into the way the story ended (or began) for the hero and heroine.

Regardless, if you enjoy regencies and haven’t gotten around to reading The Girl in the Gatehouse, I would highly recommend you add it to your to-read pile.

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