Flights of Fancy, by Jen Turano

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry an elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high-society world she’s always known and finds herself an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania.

Mr. Ian MacKenzie is known for his savvy business sense and has built his reputation and fortune completely through traditional hard work. But when his adopted parents are in need of a new housekeeper and Isadora is thrown into his path, he’s unexpectedly charmed by her unconventional manner.

Neither Isadora nor Ian expected to find the other so intriguing, but when a chain of mysterious incidents on the farm point to a larger threat, they’ll have to set aside everything they thought they wanted for a chance at happy-ever-after.

First Thoughts:

Hooray for a new Jen Turano series! And this one is set in western Pennsylvania!

My Take:

I am a BIG fan of Jen Turano. She writes about one of my favorite historical eras – the Gilded Age – and she keeps a reader entertained with the antics of young socialites. Her books follow a formula but are always different. There is a group of bright young things who usually have time on their hands, elderly eccentric spinsters who humor, hinder, or help them, menservants who also humor and/or help, and an encounter with local police.

Flights of Fancy starts in the same vein, during the summer season in Newport, Rhode Island. It is implied that Miss Delafield’s mother might be a member of “the four hundred” as she name drops the man who coined that term, Ward McAllister. Miss Delafield is the very definition of the American heiresses whose parents sought to marry them off to cash-poor yet land-rich members of the British gentry. Mother Delafield’s choice for her daughter is a suspect British duke who may or may not have disposed of his three previous wives. And so, two butlers conspire to remove Miss Delafield from New York society for her own safety.

This is where the narrative departs from the tried and true formula. Instead of the action taking place in the city, it happens in a small town in western Pennsylvania. (There are a couple of scenes in Pittsburgh.) Miss Delafield’s companions for the majority of the story consist of four children, a chicken called Elmer, and a cow named Buttercup. Her best friend from society appears only at the beginning and the end. It’s a fish out of water tale with fewer hijinks than one would expect in a Turano novel. It also has a grittier, darker feel than her previous releases.

As a Turano fan, I was a little disappointed with this book because I felt it lacked her signature style. It felt, dare I say it, ordinary. But, I’m also a casual student of both the Gilded Age and western Pennsylvania history. I loved the look at 19th century Pittsburgh with its industry and perpetual smog, and it was great to see how ordinary people might’ve lived during a time of such excess. This is the first in a series called American Heiresses and I can guess that the next book might involve the society best friend. But where it will be set, who knows? And, as much as I love Turano’s New York City, part of me also hopes it will take place in western Pennsylvania.

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary electronic copy of Flights of Fancy.

Have you read Flights of Fancy? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 01 January 2019

Page Count: 368

Read more on:   Bethany House’s Website   Jen Turano’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

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