Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. Her books have sold more than 1.5 million copies, and she is a three- time recipient of 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 RITA and Carol Awards. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full-time.

In this interview, Julie talks about book number two in her On Devonshire Shores Series, A Winter by the Sea.

FF: Can you please tell us a little bit about your new novel, A Winter by the Sea?
Happily. As the book opens, the Summers family expect a quiet winter. Instead the Duke and Duchess of Kent and their baby daughter (the future Queen Victoria) rent the neighboring house, and the sisters are called upon to host a few members of staff. Emily Summers soon finds herself caught up in two rivalries. First, while striving to further her writing aspirations, Emily is torn between her loyalty to a well-established publisher and his flamboyant competitor. Second, despite her best intentions, she is attracted to one of their new guests, until an unexpected visitor from her past shows up.

FF: What do readers need to know about Emily Summers, your main female protagonist? How is Emily different from her three sisters?
Emily is the writer of the family and dreams of becoming a published author. She has a passionate nature and sometimes speaks her mind without considering the consequences. Her bright, flirtatious manner shields a heart broken by a past rejection.

FF: This novel takes place in Devonshire during the winter of 1819–1820. What else can you tell us about the historical context and time period that influenced the creation of this novel?
It was an interesting period in British history. The Prince Regent’s only daughter had died, spurring his brothers into a race to produce a legitimate heir to the throne. Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, was the first to achieve this. He was also considered to be the strongest and healthiest of the Prince Regent’s brothers. At the time, there was every reason to believe Prince Edward might one day be king and if so, his baby daughter would be next in line. However, he was also deeply in debt and was advised to move to the West Country to live more economically. Sidmouth was his chosen winter residence.

FF: Speaking of the Duke of Kent, he makes an appearance in this story as one of the peripheral characters. Do you typically include real figures from history in your novels? Why choose to include the Duke and Duchess?
Not usually. I have more historical characters in the first two books of this series than in any of my other novels. When I learned that the Duke and Duchess of Kent visited Sidmouth that year and stayed in Woolbrook Cottage (on the same lane as fictional Sea View), I knew I wanted to include them. They arrived with too many attendants to accommodate in the house they’d rented, so some of their staff were indeed lodged elsewhere. The duke’s time in Sidmouth was brief and punctuated by dramatic events, which I hope readers will find as interesting as I did.

FF: What major themes present themselves throughout the novel? Which one do you think speaks most to readers today?
Through the character of Emily, a passionate lover of books, the novel celebrates the power of literature and romance. A Winter by the Sea also explores the human heart’s capacity to change over time and through circumstances—one’s deepest desires with it. I hope readers will relate to both themes.

FF: What will fans of romance love about the complicated relationships between Emily and her past love as well as the one she has with James Thomson?
My hope is that readers will enjoy the romantic sparks that develop between Emily and James—a handsome new guest who seems out of reach—and also empathize with her as she is torn between her growing feelings for him and her long devotion to a first love.

FF: What was the most interesting thing you discovered while researching for this book or the series as a whole?
I found it interesting to learn about the Duke and Duchess of Kent as well as other historical figures living in Sidmouth at this time. Also, I continue to enjoy learning about seaside customs and strongly held beliefs about the health benefits of sea-bathing (even in winter).

FF: Can you elaborate on that? Historically, many people moved to Sidmouth to improve their health by the seaside, but what were the benefits?
The supposed health benefits of sea air, sea-bathing, and even drinking seawater were promoted by seaside resort towns as well as physicians who published books on the topic. The salt in seawater was thought to increase circulation and remove obstacles from the glands and was used to treat whooping cough, rickets, scurvy, colic, and many other ailments. Jane Austen wrote (in her unfinished novel, Sanditon):

No person could be really well…could be really in a state of secure and permanent health without spending at least six weeks by the sea every year. The sea air and sea bathing together were nearly infallible…for every disorder of the stomach, the lungs or the blood; they were anti-spasmodic, anti-pulmonary, anti-sceptic, anti-bilious and anti- rheumatic.

FF: What do you love most about writing stories set in the Regency period?
I love the romance of the era: gentlemanly chivalry and ladylike modesty, grand manors and balls, where a dance, a lingering look, or a fleeting touch of gloved hands sparked romance. Of course, I’ve done enough research to know it was not all romantic. There was plenty of scandal and bad behavior then as now. And I would NOT want to be subjected to the medical practices of the period!

FF: Can you share a little about how you plan to wrap up this series?
I have begun work on a third novel, and plan to wrap up the series with a Christmas novella.

A Winter by the Sea
On Devonshire Shores Series #2
Julie Klassen
Bethany House
Genres: Historical Romance
Release Date: December 5, 2023

ISBN-10: ‎0764234285
ISBN-13: ‎978-0764234286

Book Summary:
Royalty comes to Sidmouth, bringing unexpected danger and the sweet possibility of romance.

When the Duke and Duchess of Kent and their daughter–the future Queen Victoria—rent neighboring Woolbrook Cottage for the winter, the Summers sisters are called upon to host three of the royal family’s male staff in their seaside house. But they soon realize they’ve invited secrets and intrigue into their home.

Meanwhile, Emily Summers longs to become an author. A local publisher offers to consider her novel if she will first write a Sidmouth guidebook for him. Emily agrees and begins researching the area with help from the Duke of Kent’s handsome private secretary. But a surprise visitor from her past shows up at Sea View, leaving Emily torn between the desires she’s long held dear and her budding dreams for the future.

Return to the Devonshire coast with the Summers sisters, where loyalties are tested, secrets come to light, and new love emerges.


Buy A Winter by the Sea from the FF Store HERE!


Buy A Winter by the Sea from FamilyFiction Amazon Affiliate HERE!

Check out more great articles

About The Author

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.