Miss Arabella Beckett, defender of the down-trodden women of America, is returning from her travels in support of the women’s suffrage movement when she makes a simple offer of assistance to a young woman in need. But things go sadly awry, and both ladies soon find themselves in dire need of rescue. Arabella, always loath to admit she needs help, is particularly reluctant to receive assistance from the arrogant, narrow-minded knight in shining armor who shows up just in time.
Private investigator extraordinaire Mr. Theodore Wilder is on an assignment that began as a favor to his good friend Hamilton Beckett, but swiftly evolved into a merry chase across the country. He is already in a less than pleasant mood, and when Hamilton’s sister turns out to have radical ideas and a fiercely independent streak, he’s at his wit’s end.
Much to their chagrin, Theodore and Arabella’s paths continue to cross when they return home to New York, but the most unusual feelings beginning to grow between them certainly can’t be anything serious. When the trouble Arabella accidentally stirred up in her travels follows her home and threatens her very life, the unlikely couple must face the possibility that they might have landed in the most peculiar circumstance of all: love.
A Most Peculiar Circumstance is the second novel in Jen Turano’s Ladies of Distinction series. While Theodore played an important role in book one, Arabella was absent from its pages and only mentioned in passing. She is, however, the sister of Hamilton and Zayne Beckett and you can expect these gentlemen and other characters from A Change of Fortune to reappear here. Their social set is now joined by Theodore’s married sister, Katherine, as they plunge headlong into another round of crazy adventures.
Within the first couple of pages, I realized I needed to read A Change of Fortune before going any further. There is a brief recap courtesy of Theodore as he tells Arabella of everything she missed but, to be honest, it will make much more sense if you have read it. Actually, the first two chapters contain a lot of backstory as Theodore and Arabella meet and explain what has brought them to this particular point. It felt like a lot was crammed into this section, but stick with it because once they get past this point, the story does start to take off.
Most of the characters are a delight, although others infuriate. Theodore’s thinking regarding women could be considered chauvinistic and offensive, until you remember that this is New York City in 1880. While the suffrage movement was raising debate about a woman’s role in society, it would take some time before opinions would change. Theodore is described as a man of his day, and this is absolutely correct. He has his opinions, but he’s willing to look at different ideas. By far, my favorite characters are Arabella’s mother, Gloria, and Theodore’s grandparents, George and Ethel Wilder. The Wilders’s story is briefly given, but I would love to see it expanded into a full length novel. I’d also love to see how Gloria met her husband given her own propensity for getting into mischief!
Despite the action, this is definitely a romance. We have characters who don’t like each other and then who don’t want to acknowledge that they are attracted to the other. We have meddling friends and family members who talk of matchmaking, as well as society matriarchs who want to see their daughters married well. These light moments balance the dark ones and occasionally made me chuckle. Of course, we know we’re going to get the happy ending but there’s plenty of fun to be had along the way. As for me, I don’t mind admitting that I am definitely in love with this series and can’t wait to read the next in the series. Fortunately for me, it’s just been released.
Thank you to Bethany House for my free electronic copy of Every Perfect Gift, which I downloaded from NetGalley. No review was required.
Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)
Publication Date: 01 June 2013
Page Count: 352