Klassen, Julie. The Bridge to Belle Island. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2019.
Paperback | $15.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0764218194 | 394 pages | Regency Romance/Christian Fiction
A new Julie Klassen book is pretty much always a delight, and The Bridge to Belle Island is no exception. Klassen once again blends the elements of period-drama romance in the vein of Jane Austen with the semi-Gothic mystery of the Brontes, with characters I loved from the first pages and a compelling plot that kept me guessing.
Klassen touches on some tough issues in this one, a common theme for her books, this time featuring a heroine with anxiety as a result of grief and fear as the result of several family deaths. I could relate to Isabelle’s sense of feeling secure in her life on Belle Island, fearing the consequences of venturing out as others in her family did. And while she does eventually venture out and face her fears, it’s merely a small step in what is implied to be a long process of reacquainting herself with the world, with the power of her faith and the support of those close to her.
I liked Benjamin’s journey as a character as well, reconciling pleasing his mentor who he feels he’s disappointed recently and the father with whom he’s never seen eye-to-eye. I love his growth to finding out who is more worthy of his trust and respect, in spite of the difficulties.
I found the mystery compelling, especially as there is much more focus on that plot, with the development of the romance feeling secondary at times. While she typically creates heroes and heroines who don’t have any reason to be suspects in the murder, I love her use of misdirection that even had me suspecting Isabelle at one point, along with everyone else. And when the true reason the clues suggested she could be involved were revealed, I was completely shocked, as well as saddened, with how it played into her anxiety issues. And the reveal of the killer was a clever twist I did not see coming, although, in hindsight, it was set up so well.
Julie Klassen has written another winner, and one I recommend to fans of historical romance and mystery.