Blog Tour: Dear Mr. Knightly

Dear Mr. Knightley
by Katherine Reay
November 5th 2013 by Thomas Nelson Publishers


Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.

Growing up orphaned and alone, Sam found her best friends in the works of Austen, Dickens, and the Brontë sisters. The problem is that she now relates to others more comfortably as Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre than as herself.
Sometimes we lose ourselves in the things we care about most.

But life for this twenty-three-year-old is about to get stranger than fiction, when an anonymous benefactor (calling himself “Mr. Knightley”) offers to put Sam through the prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam’s program and peers force her to confront her past, she finds safety in her increasingly personal letters to Mr. Knightley. And when Sam meets eligible, best-selling novelist Alex Powell, those letters unfold a story of love and literature that feels as if it’s pulled from her favorite books. But when secrets come to light, Sam is – once again – made painfully aware of how easily trust can be broken.

Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.


My Review

I originally signed up for this tour because I liked the summary and I love everything that references Austen. I got so much more than I was asking for. I LOVED this book!!! I would give it more than five stars, although that will be all you'll see at the end here. It was one of the best books I have read this year! Do you want to know why? Let me see if I can put it into words...

Sam is an amazing character! She has had a very rough life. She was abused as a child and passed from one foster home to another most of her life. Even now, she lives in a home for orphaned children or children who have no place to go. She had been there for some time and then tried to make it on her own, but it didn't work out so she has come back. She has very few friends because she doesn't truly see people or relate to them. Her whole life she has survived by escaping into books. And it has been surviving, not living. She has a chance to go to a prestigious journalism school and she takes it. The only requirement is that she writes letters to a Mr. Knightley, the founder of the grant that is allowing her this opportunity, and who will not be writing back.

The other characters are amazing too! I loved seeing Sam build stronger friendships with them. Hannah, who has things figured out, but still tries to help Sam and be her friend. Kyle. Oh, Kyle. He has it rough. I just wanted to cry about a lot of his story. But he's a fighter and he saves Sam as she saves him. The Muirs who also help save Sam and give her so much without asking anything. Ashley, who has her own shield up, who understands Sam sometimes when others don't, and desperately needs a friend. Debbie, who is another good friend to Sam even after a very awkward first impression. Alex. I couldn't say enough about him. He and Sam become such good friends. I love the conversations they have and all the things they say even without words.

The whole story is told through Sam's letters until the very end when her letters stop. At first I was a little skeptical, but the author made it work and work fabulously! Pretty soon I didn't even notice I was reading letters. I was just completely immersed in the story. I couldn't put it down and ended up reading it all in one sitting.

I literally bookmarked a ton of places in this book where I wanted to quote as part of this review. I decided if I included them all it would be it's own novella. So, I worked them down to these: 

     He sat down, deflated. "So all that crap you told me was just that, huh? Crap. We don't deserve no better. We can't break through and find someplace to thrive? That's what you keep saying, isn't it, that we can 'thrive'? It means more than grow. I thought it meant happiness."

     "I still believe that . . . for you." I started crying. Will I ever stop crying?
     "But not for you?" he asked.
     My jaw dropped. It was true. Not for me. I'd never felt such loss, as I realized that all my dreams were gone. I couldn't pick up the pieces of a single one.
     His voice softened as he continued, "What does it take to get you there?"
     "I don't know," I cried. "Kyle, I don't know. There's all this inside me: shame, lies, and fear. It has filled me up and there's no room for anything good and bright. I used to bury it and hide it away. It doesn't work anymore and I can't sleep. I can't eat . . ."
     "Get it out."
     "How?" I looked at him as if he held all the answers, and I sincerely hoped he did.
     "Write it. No lies. Only truth."

- p. 144-145 

     As we headed to bed, Mrs. Muir prayed for me. No one has ever done that before. Sure, the Muirs made references while saying grace during my weekly dinners, but this prayer was only for me. As we got up from the table, she came over and hugged me. She then prayed that I would feel safe and loved forever, and that God would take away my pain and leave strength and compassion. Sometime during the prayer, I felt the professor's hand rest on my other shoulder.

     Part of me wanted to back away at the end and quip, "That was nice, but He doesn't pay attention to me." But I couldn't. I couldn't because I want so badly to believe that God cares, that all this matters to Him, that all this pain has a purpose and that none of it tarnishes me forever. That longing is there, and a single word last night might have blown it away.

- p. 149-150

     For months I convinced myself that Josh's paltry version of love was all I could expect-I wasn't worth something better. But I know there's more. I want the real thing. I can have that, can't I?

     Because I know it existsin books and in real life. The Muirs have it. I'm continually struck by the ways they care for each other and for me. And HannahI hear it when she talks about Matt. Love spills out of these people. That's what I want. Settling for anything less is a lie.
     Josh was a lie.
     Do you have it, Mr. Knightley? The real thing? Don't let it go if you do. That's all.

- p. 216 

     "What happened with that detective Cole hated?"

     "I never said he 'hated' her."
     "He should."
     "Conflict drives emotion, Alex. If he hates her at the beginning, he can love her at the end."
     "You are so set on him getting a girlfriend. Don't you think once he finds someone, he'll be all in? He's a pretty intense guy. What if she doesn't feel the same? Best not to rush it."
     I pondered this. "Don't avoid it, though. That's a cop-out."
     He laughed. "Love stories are too easy. They're trite. Cole doesn't need that."
     "Then don't make her light and easymake her tough, and real, and flawed. I'd like to read about that, because if it's difficult, but beautiful, then I'll believe it can be real..."

- p. 254-255
Just reading these makes me want to pick up this book and read it all over again! I figured out what was going to happen in the end, but getting there was an enjoyable journey.

I just loved the whole story! I loved how the characters grow and change, to find friends, to open themselves, and to love! I teared up through several parts. There are some serious doses of reality, of life not being fair, of heartbreak. Then there are these other moments of joy, and friendship, and hope. This is one of the best heartbreaking, but lovely and happy stories I have read this year! It is definitely one that I will be re-reading. I highly recommend it to everyone!

Content: Clean (There are some descriptions of abuse, which I felt I should mention for those who might be sensitive to this.)

Source: I want to thank LitFuse Publicity Group and Thomas Nelson Publishers for my free review copy, which did not affect my review in any way.

About the Author

Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries. After earning degrees in history and marketing from Northwestern University, she worked as a marketer for Proctor & Gamble and Sears before returning to school to earn her MTS. Her works have been published in "Focus on the Family" and the "Upper Room." Katherine currently lives with her husband and three children in Seattle. "Dear Mr. Knightley" is her first novel.

You can find Katherine here:


Debut author Katherine Reay is celebrating the release of her delightful novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway, a fun Favorite Austen Moments Pinterest contest, and an Austen-themed Facebook Party.

  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
  • Handmade Austen-themed items (scarf, mug, bracelet, and necklace) 
Two ways to win! Enter today by clicking one of the icons below or participating in the Pinterest contest (see banner below)—or BOTH! 

But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 3rd. Winner will be announced at the "Dear Mr. Knightley" Austen-themed Facebook Author Chat Party on the 3rd. Join Katherine (and Austen fans) for an evening of book chat, prizes, and an exclusive look at Katherine's next book.

So grab your copy of  Dear Mr. Knightley and join Katherine on the evening of December 3rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

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