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The Bridge to Belle Island

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Member Reviews

The Bridge to Belle Island is a delightful mystery with just the right amount of romance. It is a story of healing through faith and through forgiveness. It establishes the importance of family and other relationships.

I loved the examination of the different relationships as it tried to solve a murder mystery. The mystery didn’t give anything away until the characters had the answers which is important for me in a mystery. I hate figuring it out too fast. I am happy when an author can keep me hanging on for the answer and stumps me.

The most important theme I found was forgiveness and healing through faith. It allows for the characters to be full and nuanced. I was drawn into this books and completely enjoyed the story.

I received an ARC through the publisher on NetGalley
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Thanks for providing a review copy. I was unable to get into the book and wont be returning to it, so no official review posted at this time.
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Akin to Rosamunde Pilcher, Julie Klassen's writing is like a warm blanket on a cold day:  comforting and relaxing.  Her strong sense of setting and characters create an atmosphere that is easy to slip into and forget everything else but the story you are reading.
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This was an interesting read. Different aspects to character development. I liked the location. It was a mix of mystery and romance. My genre I like best is less romance and more history, but this was good. I liked the mystery aspects of the story. I will read Julie Klassen again
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Much more of a mystery/suspense than a romance. I’m not sure if that was the intention, but it felt different for this author.

Character-filled plot at times makes it a little difficult to keep track of everyone that pops up, you’ll find yourself trying to solve the murder. All the while, wondering if a romance will develop between the two main characters. It’s different for sure and if you are interested in a suspenseful historical fiction, this will be the story for you.

I received a complimentary eARC from Netgalley. This is my honest review.
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The Bridge To Belle Island by Julie Klassen is a fabulous Christian historical crime novel that I just could not put down.
The action is set in the early nineteenth century in London and on the fictional Belle Island near Maidenhead. The air in the capitol is polluted in both physical and spiritual terms and is in sharp contrast with the fresher air and sunny personalities on Belle Island. Lives live here in community in contrast with the isolation of London.
After crimes are committed, a young lawyer seeks the truth. The truth will always set us free. Lies will imprison us. Sometimes it is the lies we tell ourselves in our minds that build up psychological walls meant to keep us safe but actually trap us.
Events in the past loom large in the present as lives pinpoint backwards to a moment in time. Old insecurities must be faced and dealt with.
There is the theme of forgiveness. If we do not forgive, we risk becoming bitter and carrying a burden that was never meant for us.
The theme of trust looms large. Suspicion lurks around every corner as we wonder who committed the crimes.
A character really wants to trust God. “She did not trust Him (God) with the lives of those she loved… She wanted to trust, but fear and worry… won out.” We need to take a step of faith and trust God, putting our fears and worries aside. When fear and worry darken our lives, we must face them with prayer. “Reminding me not to worry but to pray.” Prayer changes everything.
Julie Klassen has created a marvellous plotline that kept me glued and guessing. I always love her novels and her eclectic mix of characters.
The Bridge To Belle Island is a quintessentially English novel. As I live in England I appreciated the quality of the landscape as well as the artistry of the writing. It was simply marvellous.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.
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While Julie Klassen has a mysterious thread to most of her books this was more on the verge of a cozy mystery and I loved it. This is a must read I highly recommend if you love regency romance.
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Julie Klassen presents quite the Regency mystery in Bridge to Belle Island, set in 1819. There are so many levels in which one can relate Klassen’s characters. We start with the hero, Benjamin Booker, a young attorney at a prestigious law firm. Booker is young and eager, but failing, afraid, and angry at his demanding father, who chooses to honor Ben’s brother over Ben. Booker has “adopted” his boss and mentor, Mr. Robert Hardy, one of the firm’s founders, as a “surrogate” father figure. Who can’t relate to failure or the fear of failure? How many of us, whether we had good parents or not, could not also point to at least one other adult who made significant contributions to our lives? Ben will need to decide about two loves... that of a certain lady, and whether his father should ever be given a chance to regain his trust and love again. 
Our other main character is the very capable, middle-aged spinster, Miss Isabelle Wilder. With her trustee dead, can she finally control her own life, as well as that of her niece, whom she helped raise? Will the old family curse visit Isabelle or will fear of it defeat her? With a bevy of possible suitors, who will she choose? 
And, of course, the mystery itself. I love it. We start out with the death of Mr. Norris, Isabelle’s and Rose’s trustee, early on. It will take us a journey through the whole book, with many stops and multiple suspects, to finally discover the true mastermind behind Norris’s death. The novel carries a sense of Edgar Allen Poe, the Clue game, and Charles Dickens all rolled into one. What fun, except for a few times when things were so bleak, I wanted to cry. About three-fourths the way through, the narrative lagged, but picked up and surged forward. 
The faith message includes reminders of Philippians 4:6,7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 
Faith in God, discernment of whom to trust, and forgiveness are themes in this novel full of twists. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley. 
This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.
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There was much I loved about Bridge to Belle Island, but a few elements threw me right out of my reading stride. Klassen is a fine writer, and captured me with her lovely descriptions of the setting. Secondly, I thought I'd be reading a clever reverse gothic: with the wilting flower being the hero and the figure who knows the spirits of the place, the heroine. That element was dropped for a stodgy and not very compelling mystery plot. Above all, however, what turned me "off" the novel, despite the fine writing, was the hero's constant suspicions. Firstly, his prejudice against women was a turn off, but I like the writing and kept reading. But ultimately there was a disconnect between characterization, Belle's, and his relentless suspicion.
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I've read Julie Klassen's Ivy Hill books and really loved them.  The Bridge to Belle Island had a great mystery to it along with a fantastic setting along the Thames. I loved Benjamin and Isabelle along with all the side characters.  The mystery kept me guessing til the end.

Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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The Bridge to Belle Island
by Julie Klassen

Bethany House


Bethany House Publishers
Christian

Pub Date 03 Dec 2019  


I am reviewing a copy of The Bridge to Belle Island through Bethany House publishers and Netgalley:



Benjamin Booker whose a lawyer resolves to never trust another woman after a  mistake humiliated him.


After an old friend is killed, the senior partner of bow street isn’t satisfied with the way things are handled and asks Benjamin to investigate.  Benjamin who is more than ready to leave London, at least for awhile agrees.  The evidences takes him to a remote island on the Thames, a place that is a world unto itself and is shrouded by mystery.  It doesn’t take long before Benjamin finds himself falling for the main subject, a woman who hasn’t left the island in ten years.  The problem is he doesn’t know whether he should trust her or not.


Isabelle feels safe on Belle Island, and she leads a productive life, but fear has her trapped there.  After Mr Booker shows up at Belle Island with news of her trustees murder in London, she’s stunned.  Isabelle hasn’t left the island,  but she’s had a recurring dream about a mans death, or could it be an actual memory?  She’s had a lot of anger against him, but this was not something he wanted.



After a second person died and the evidence surprisingly points to her, Isabelle has no idea who she should trust.  The lawyer whose attractive or the admirer of friends  who assemble on the island.  They each have grudges against the victim.  Isabelle is not even sure that she can trust her own mind.  Searching for the truth leads to secrets being brought to the light, and the danger that ensues.



I give The Bridge of Belle Island five out of five stars!


Happy Reading!
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This is a terrific English historical mystery. I loved everything about it.  The historical setting has outstanding detail. The description of Belle Island made me want to visit there.  The storyline is intriguing and romantic.  I would think that I had the mystery solved, and then another credible suspect would pop up that would make me question my theory.  (I love books like that!)  The two main characters are believable and I liked them.  Benjamin and Isabelle’s story does not get off to a smooth start, and Isabelle herself is a main suspect, and Benjamin finds himself In a position of not knowing who to trust, even if she appears to be a sweet and beautiful young woman.  

If you like English mysteries, you’ll love this one.  This book is a keeper, and a I’ll be reading it again.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.
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She wanted to trust, but fear and worry all to often won out.

Benjamin Booker is always seeking the admiration of his mentor and lead partner Mr. Hardy. After a devastating loss on a case, Mr. Hardy and Booker visit an old partner Percival Norris which leads to a crime scene. His partner is dead and the evidence leads to Isabelle Wilder of Belle Island. With Hardy's encouragement, Booker goes to Belle Island with the pretense to handle the legal affairs of Miss Wilder. A single woman that has isolated herself on her family's island. She handles the affairs of her niece Rose Lawrence. Ms. Wilder's fear of leaving the island comes from the loss of her family. A superstition that if any family members leave the island, they will meet their demise.

With Mr. Booker's arrival to the island, he is taken with Ms. Wilder but does not want to be fooled again with any deceit. Can he believe Isabelle? Mr. Booker untangles the web of lies that ensnare both him and the woman he has fallen for.

With a Christian theme, I enjoyed the mystery of the crime and how it all unraveled. The characters were easy to relate as they relied on their faith and begin to see their faith anew. It was an enjoyable read as it was descriptive of the island and the character building that was developed thru the plot.

A Special thank you to Bethany House Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review
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Klassen has given us a fun murder mystery  with a little bit of romance. It was slightly different than I was expecting. Not my favorite of all her works but still well done. She always does a great job of giving you characters with great depth. I also always love the way she  beautifully describes her settings so you can really picture them as you read.
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I received an ARC from Bethany House via NetGalley this review is my personal opinion

Julie Klassen did a great job in this book, I can only say good things. In this story we go to 1819, we first meet Benjamin Booker, he is a young lawyer in London and he is on court defending what he believes is an innocent client, what happens from here determine not only the tone but also his attitude through the story. Now, here comes the interesting and the most important part of the story. Benjamin was with his mentor Mr. Hardy and they found Percival Harris ( a former lawyer from the law firm) and also a friend of Benjamin mentor dead under suspicious circumstances. Here we start asking so many questions, why him? What were the reasons? And of course who did it?  

Benjamin goes to Belle Island in Berkshire as a request to help his mentor to get an answer from Isabelle Wilder since they were heard fighting a few days before he was murder. One of the things I like about these books is that we have two very human characters, with flaws and physical situations. We learn that Benjamin has some issues with his father and brother and in Isabelle's case, her fears on leaving the island (all do sound exaggerate) are real. While the story is developing we have more clues, but also more suspects. And of course more questions!. But, the best of this story and is the reason what I think it is a great choice for anyone who loves historical Christian fiction. This is the type of book that gets better and better. You will not only have all your answers and maybe be a bit shock, but we also remember how valuable and important we are for God, to have faith in Him, and to take a small step toward healing and a new beginning.
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This book is the epitome of the cozy mystery genre. Red herrings every chapter, a softly forming romance, and British mainstays make this just as charming as suspenseful. 
The story begins with Benjamin's unfortunate gaffe, causing him to question his own abilities and wondering if he allowed a member of the fairer sex to mislead him. On the heels of this humiliating incident, he begins investigating the death of a wealthy but misliked by many Londoner. Benjamin jumps right in, eager to take on the case that will get him out of the city, hopefully long enough for some other news or rumor to let him slip out of the limelight. When the investigation takes him to Belle Island, he fights his feelings towards possible suspect and niece of the murder victim, Belle, vowing to not make the same mistake that put him in hot water in the first place. 
As the clues pile up, it becomes even more difficult to figure out whodunit. Did Belle have a larger part than even she realizes? Past mysteries rise to the surface to become entangled with the present case, proving that even the simplest of matters are influenced by our history. 
There were a few chapters where the pacing lagged which could have been whittled down without detracting from the story, but this is my only complaint about the book. There was a large cast of characters, but each was given his or her own unique personality that made it easy to keep them all straight. In addition, the author has clearly down her historical research and used the setting and place to her advantage rather than as a lushly padded background. I never came even close to guessing the murderer ahead of time, and yet the clues more than satisfactorily explained the who and why. 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the complimentary advance copy. This had no impact on my review.
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(4.5 stars) - a Regency murder mystery/romance

This was my first Julie Klassen book, and I very much enjoyed it. I love Regency romance as well as Agatha Christie mysteries, so this was totally appealing 

While it's fairly obvious whodunit before the halfway point of the story, peeling away the layers of events that obscured the truth is a bit more complex & made things more interesting - though the coincidental involvement of one of the characters in so many unrelated incidents seemed a bit much 

The romance between Isabelle & Ben is done well. The interplay of their life-directing (& limiting) fears - Isabelle's fear of loss & death with Ben's fear of inadequacy & failure - which culminates in them both suffering from debilitating anxiety disorders, gives them an empathetic bond from the outset. 

I particularly liked how they helped each other grow spiritually, and helped each other to cope with their issues rather than simply & conveniently being healed - God does heal, of course, but more often than not, He wants us to learn to carry our cross. I really appreciated the positive message along with the sweet romance 

*Clean romance level: sweet kisses, nothing graphic 
*Religion: overtly Christian, not at all preachy
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RATING: 3.5 STARS
2019; Bethany House

Do not read The Bridge to Belle Island if you are looking for a strong mystery. The mystery in this novel is easy to figure out, and is more of background noise to help the novel along. It seems many of Klassen's faithful readers have given this book a "meh" rating as they were expecting more of her signature clean romance. I have read 3 of Klassen's novel, all part of a trilogy, and enjoyed it a lot as it reminded me of Jane Austen's writing - witty stories with romance. I was happy to see Klassen was writing a mystery, and was a bit disappointed that the mystery was a bit weaker. That is the reason I rated the novel 3.5 stars. I was engaged in the writing, and liked the characters and story, but it felt like the story wasn't sure where it was going. I am definitely in for more Klassen, especially after some grittier suspense novels.

***I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.***
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The Bridge to Belle Island by Julie Klassen is a fascinating historical novel.  I believe this is Julie Klassen’s best novel yet.  The story contains rich, developed characters.  The authors vivid descriptions made the characters come alive for me.  I enjoyed the depictions of their clothing along with the scenery and homes.  I thought Julie Klassen captured the time period.  It was fascinating to learn more about the Thames.  Living on Belle Island when there are heavy storms is like living in Florida when a hurricane approaches.  The water level rises subjecting the inhabitants to flee to the mainland and hope that their homes will still be there when they return.  The mystery was fascinating and fun to solve.  Someone with access to Percival Norris’s home must have done the evil deed and we get to follow the clues to discover which individual committed the crime.  The romance plays out slowly which I liked.  Ben is understandably hesitant to trust any woman and Isabel has her own reasons for distrusting men.  Julie Klassen’s writing is compelling and drew me right into the story. The pacing is languid which suits the time period and story. The Bridge to Belle Island has romance and mystery in Regency England which is a fabulous combination.
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I’ve heard great things about Julie Klassen’s books, so when the opportunity came to read her latest release, I looked forward to giving it a try. The Bridge to Belle Island is a historical mystery set in 1819 England. It reminded me a lot of the cozy mysteries I love to read, but with a more contained romance, so I enjoyed it even more and will definitely be reading other Klassen books.

Benjamin Booker is a lawyer who gets the wool pulled over his eyes by a pretty woman and in so doing, he loses a huge case in court. Embarrassed, but given a second chance by his boss and mentor, he agrees to search for answers to the murder of one of their firm’s partners. Benjamin suspects the man has been poisoned though on first glance it looks like he’s been struck on the head.

Benjamin’s boss knows his partner had an argument with a client, so he sends Benjamin to Belle Island to investigate. Benjamin must steel himself against being taken in by another pretty woman since Isabelle Wilder definitely fits that description.

Isabelle loves her island along the Thames. After losing several loved ones, it’s the only place she feels safe. When her home is threatened, she takes a stand against the man who wants to take it away. All that does is land her as the prime suspect in a murder investigation. Can she convince everyone that she is indeed innocent even though everything points to her guilt?

The list of characters who seem guilty is long and the twists and turns of Benjamin’s investigation keep readers guessing at who-done-it. I also liked that the romance thread of the story wrapped up within the telling of this story, unlike many cozy mysteries that weave that thread over several books. The ending felt a tad drawn out, but the characters were such that I didn’t want to leave them behind once the story ended.

I’m glad I chose to read The Bridge to Belle Island and look forward to checking out other books written by Julie Klassen. I hope you’ll enjoy this one, too.

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I received this book free from NetGalley in order to provide an honest review. 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.”
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