I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by CelebrateLit, NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep
Series: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas #1
Published by Barbour Publishing on September 1st 2017
Genres: Christian, Fiction, Historical, Holidays
Source: CelebrateLit, NetGalley
". . .a setting and plot that would make Agatha Christie herself sit up and take notice."—RT Book Reviews A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger...and love?
England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.
But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.
Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.
What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.
Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series--a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale--by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite.
Having time between finishing this book and writing this review is bad for my word flow. I had time to think. Thinking and reviews for me do not go hand in hand. I lose that fresh off the book visceral reaction that tends to make a lot more sense in words than when I think. I had deep thoughts, I really did … last night. I’ll be blunt, the mystery left me wanting – some too vague and some to obvious. The romance was interesting. The twists were slightly cliche but not over the top. But overall, honestly, it held up as an intriguing story that kept me invested to the very end.
Let’s talk nitty gritty. I feel like the characters were missing something in their overall development. I got an idea of who they were but the other guests at Bleakly were not quite living and breathing for me. I missed out on truly understanding what they were looking for and who they were at the core. I mean I get crazy old gal, raging French woman, shifty inspector, and ‘oy me rumpus’ dude (that and ‘Jilly lend a hand’, I swear he only had those two lines!). The difference is I didn’t understand their motivation as humans so I didn’t really care about them one way or the other. I sometimes didn’t care to remember who’s name was whose because they didn’t feel legitimate. Along the same vein, I didn’t understand the motivation for the 12 Days. It was cleared up for me later but the lack of understanding made me really not give two hoots.
All that said I like the quirkiness of the book. I like that it was different-ish. Yes depth was in short supply but I was engaged. I needed to see where it went. I actually ended up liking the story and how it all played out. With the clarification that came through the telling I really want to make time re-read it with deeper understanding and see if things click in the characters and story that were lacking before. Perhaps next Christmas?