Behind the Scenes, by Jen Turano

book cover Behind the ScenesPublisher’s Overview:

After spending the last six years banished to the wallflower section of the ballroom, Miss Permilia Griswold has finally figured out a way to pass the time at all the New York high-society events she attends. Under the pseudonym “Miss Quill,” she is the author of society gossip columns filled with tidbits only an insider in society–albeit one on the fringes–would know. 

When she overhears a threat against Mr. Asher Rutherford, the owner of one of the most up-and-coming department stores in the city, she’s determined to warn him. But the irritatingly handsome man doesn’t believe her, leaving her no choice but to take matters into her own hands. What she doesn’t anticipate is that she’ll end up putting herself at risk in the process–or that she and Mr. Rutherford, a man with secrets of his own, just might end up joining forces after all.

First Thoughts:

I’ve enjoyed every book I’ve read by Jen Turano. It was a no-brainer, therefore, to request to review this title when Bethany House made it available. Plus, I’d already read the free prequel novella.

My Take:

You always know what you’re going to get with a Jen Turano novel. It’s usually set in New York City during the Gilded Age (or, on occasion, Newport, Rhode Island) and includes a bunch of quirky characters of various ages and social status, sometimes interacting with real life figures of that era. There’s mystery and intrigue wrapped up in a comedy of errors and, of course, there’s romance. The writing is light but also contains semi-formal language. Turano’s characters are almost always introduced for the first time as either Miss or Mister. Polite society should always perform proper introductions, after all. Despite this apparent formula, however, Turano always delivers a fresh and delightful story.

Behind the Scenes starts at the notorious Vanderbilt costume ball of 1883, and over 100 pages of plot development are set there. Run a search for this event online and you’ll find plenty of photographs of society’s elite in various forms of fancy dress, some of which Turano describes. This was a time of excess and main character Permilia is often scolded in the book by her stepmother for her seemingly frugal ways. Despite the humor, incredulous costumes and hair-raising escapades through Central Park, however, there’s a serious note about the changing nature of celebrity gossip and how charming society columns became the front page exposes of today. Miss Quill’s writings harken back to a more innocent time.

Behind the Scenes kicks off Turano’s newest series, titled Apart From the Crowd. Early on in this novel, there’s a reference to events and characters in a series e-prequel novella. It’s worth reading if you can because it does introduce Permilia and Asher. It’s called At Your Request and I believe it’s permanently free. Meanwhile, I’m eagerly looking forward to the next release, which apparently features a wealthy society matron who appears to take a liking to other people’s property…

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary copy of Behind the Scenes, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read Behind the Scenes? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Author Q & A

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 18 April 2017

Page Count: 352

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

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

Snack Size Review: At Your Request, by Jen Turano

I’m introducing a new feature today: novella reviews. Authors and publishers will occasionally release a novella prequel to introduce a new series. These are usually in electronic format only, but most of the time they’re free to download. Prequel novellas are a great way to discover a new author, or maybe you’re just looking for a quick read.

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

After her father lost the family’s fortune, Wilhelmina was cast out of the fashionable set and banished to the wallflower section. Taking a position as a social secretary to help support her family, she’s mostly come to terms with her new status. But when her old friend Edgar returns to New York society for the first time since she rejected his marriage proposal, she’s newly ashamed at how far she’s fallen–and how hastily she dismissed him years ago. Her strategy is to avoid a face-to-face encounter at all costs, but he seems to have other plans. Will Edgar take advantage of their now reversed positions and make her regret her refusal, or is there still hope for a friendship between them–or something more?

At Your Request is an e-only novella that gives an exciting introduction to Jen Turano’s new Gilded Age historical romance series, Apart From the Crowd! Includes an extended excerpt of the first full-length novel in the series, Behind the Scenes.

My Take:

Jen Turano launches her Apart From the Crowd series with a novella set in New York City during the Gilded Age. This series takes a look at the women whose society debuts have bombed, but are still required to attend the various soirees held during the social season. These “wallflowers” are seldom asked to dance, and so spend the time sitting in silence. Apparently, it’s a rule: “Wallflowers did not converse with each other… ever.” Well, ouch!

Although it’s short, At Your Request is also sweet, and of Turano’s usual standard. There’s humor throughout, such as when Wilhelmina is so desperate to avoid Edgar that she has an unfortunate encounter with a chair. Turano has a charming writing style, her characters are delightful, and I can’t wait to read Behind the Scenes.

Have you read At Your Request? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 03 January 2017

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

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Christianbook.com

 

The Pattern Artist, by Nancy Moser

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Born into a life of hard work, English housemaid Annie Wood arrives in New York City in 1911 with her wealthy mistress. Wide-eyed with the possibilities America has to offer, Annie wonders if there’s more for her than a life of service.

Annie chooses to risk everything, taps into courage she never knew she had, and goes off on her own, finding employment in the sewing department at Macy’s. While at Macy’s Annie catches the eye of a salesman at the Butterick Pattern Company. Through determination, hard work, and God’s leading, Annie discovers a hidden gift: she is a talented fashion designer—a pattern artist of the highest degree.

As she runs from ghosts of the past and focuses on the future, Annie enters a creative world that takes her to the fashion houses of Paris and into a life of adventure, purpose, and love.

First Thoughts:

I’ve enjoyed every historical novel by Nancy Moser that I’ve read. It’s great to have the opportunity to review her newest title.

My Take:

Nineteen year old Annie Wood arrives in New York on the trip of a lifetime. Although she’s a lowly housemaid who has to answer to other servants, her sewing skills have necessitated her inclusion and she’s determined to make the most of it. But after disillusionment sets in and she makes an enemy in her temporary household, Annie decides to go after the American dream. What follows is a fast paced story which, while it does comes across as improbable at times, is highly entertaining.

It’s easy to like Annie. She isn’t perfect, but she’s eager to learn and has a positive attitude. She surrounds herself with good people from various backgrounds and some, such as Maude, are interesting enough that I’d like to read more about them. Annie’s story isn’t all sunshine and flowers, however, and there are some sad moments. I waited for the proverbial shoe to drop as the narrative moved towards April 1912 in Paris, and drop it does.

The Pattern Artist is a story about God’s nudging and how He has grand plans for each of us. It actually ties in well with a Bible study I’m currently doing. Even when Annie’s life is touched by tragedy, we see how He can bring about something positive from it. It’s also an enjoyable historical romance that I couldn’t put down and consequently stayed up very late to finish.

Thank you to Barbour Publishing for my complimentary copy of The Pattern Artist, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Do you plan to read The Pattern Artist? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press (an imprint of Barbour Publishing)

Publication Date: 01 December 2016

Page Count: 320

Read more on:   Nancy Moser’s Website   Barbour Publishing’s Website

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