Out of the Ordinary, by Jen Turano

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Working as a paid companion may be quite commonplace, but Miss Gertrude Cadwalader’s eccentric employer makes her job unpredictable, to say the least. She finds herself carrying out an array of highly unusual tasks, including wearing peculiar outfits and returning items the woman pilfered. But when the wealthy Mrs. Sinclair catches Gertrude sneaking around the Sinclair yacht with some of the missing items in her possession, she immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion.

Shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair is caught in the middle of a misunderstanding between his mother and Gertrude, but he can’t help coming to his friend’s defense. Even as he hopes their friendship might become something more, Harrison is unprepared for the outlandish escapades that seem to follow the lovely, anything-but-ordinary Gertrude at every turn.

First Thoughts:

I jump at any Jen Turano book. They’re almost always a fun read!

My Take:

I almost always enjoy a novel by Jen Turano. You know what you’re going to get: a lighthearted book that might include a difficult subject, which contains subtle humour, quirky characters, and an even subtler social commentary on the Gilded Age. Out of the Ordinary continues the series about social “wallflowers” Permilia, Gertrude, and Temperance. These women aren’t really welcome at social events, but are still expected to attend due to family and other connections. Everything is explained in the first book in the Apart From the Crowd series, Behind the Scenes, so I do suggest you read that. That was Permilia’s story, and now the focus has switched to Gertrude.

To be honest, there’s little I can say about Out of the Ordinary that I’ve not said about Jen Turano’s other novels. Yes, there’s a slight formulaic feel to them but “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” as the saying goes. If Turano was to change her style, I’d probably be one of many fans who’d be disappointed. Harrison’s sisters were a welcome addition and I’d love to see them star in their own series. Turano’s writing is also clever: she manages to sneak in a Star Wars reference without it sounding at all anachronistic. There is a plot resolution that feels slightly contrived, but everybody deserves a happy ending, so why not?

If you love fun historical novels that aren’t full of romantic cliché (this one even has references to those sorts of books!), then I heartily recommend any of Jen Turano’s books including this one. But do read them in order, including any prequels, so that you can maximize your enjoyment of this singular author.

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary copy of Out of the Ordinary, which I received for my honest review.

Have you read Out of the Ordinary? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Author Q and A

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 07 November 2017

Page Count: 352

Read more on:   Bethany House’s Website   Jen Turano’s Website   Coney Island’s Manhattan Beach Resort

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

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A Dangerous Legacy, by Elizabeth Camden

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Telegraph operator Lucy Drake is a master of Morse code and has made herself a valuable asset to the Associated Press news agency. But the sudden arrival of Sir Colin Beckwith at rival British news agency Reuters puts her hard-earned livelihood at risk. Colin is talented, handsome, insufferably charming–and keeping a secret that jeopardizes his reputation.

Despite their rivalry, Lucy can’t deny that Colin has the connections she needs to give her family an edge in the long legal battle they’ve been waging over their rightful inheritance. But when she negotiates an unlikely alliance with him, the web of treachery they dive into proves to be far more dangerous than they ever could have known.

First Thoughts:

Elizabeth Camden is one of the Christian fiction authors to whom I tend to gravitate.

My Take:

Do you like pertinent information in a novel being given to you gradually, or do you want to know it immediately? While I find it can be intriguing to put the pieces together, especially in a mystery novel, there are also times when I want to know NOW! I was in one of the latter moods during the opening pages of A Dangerous Legacy. I wanted to know what the legal issue was and I wanted it yesterday! Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long to discover why Lucy and her brother didn’t have much of a life outside of their jobs and the courtroom. I was also charmed by the cricket reference in those early pages and the accuracy of the detail in it. Yes, Britain, my home country, known for tea (which I can’t stand) and cricket (which I adore).

Fans of shows such as Downton Abbey will enjoy this tale of those who have, those who don’t, and those who fall somewhere in between. Colin is one of those members of the British aristocracy who is land rich and cash poor. He’s looking to marry a wealthy American heiress so he can repair his ancestral home and provide not only for his family but also for those who live and work on the estate. The pretensions of the Gilded Age are fully displayed, with the newly wealthy flocking to him because of his title. Lucy and Nick show concern for the have-nots, while they themselves are in the in between crowd. Readers will also get an insight into the news wire rivalries, sewers, and insane asylums of the early twentieth century although, personally, I could’ve done without the sewer knowledge!

A Dangerous Legacy was a book I really enjoyed. I liked Colin and Lucy: they were down to earth, practical people who were honest with each other, although they did show their emotions. There were no contrived misunderstandings between them either. There were plenty of dramatic moments and some equally beautiful ones too. And, the nice things is, I didn’t have to say a complete goodbye to these characters as this is the first in a new series! The second book, featuring Lucy’s brother, is coming out in early 2018. Sounds like you’ll want to have read this one first though.

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary electronic copy of A Dangerous Legacy, which I downloaded from NetGalley. No review was required.

Have you read A Dangerous Legacy? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 03 October 2017

Page Count: 352

Read more on:   Bethany House’s Website   Elizabeth Camden’s Website   The Gilded Age’s real-life “Dollar Princesses”

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

With You Always, by Jody Hedlund

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Could Following the Opportunity of a Lifetime Cost Them the Love of Their Lives?

One of the many immigrants struggling to survive in 1850s New York, Elise Neumann knows she must take action to care for her younger sisters. She finds a glimmer of hope when the New York Children’s Aid Society starts sending skilled workers to burgeoning towns out west. But the promise of the society’s orphan trains is not all that it seems.

Born into elite New York society, Thornton Quincy possesses everything except the ability to step out from his brother’s shadow. When their ailing father puts forth a unique challenge to determine who will inherit his railroad-building empire, Thornton finally sees his chance. The conditions to win? Be the first to build a sustainable community along the Illinois Central Railroad and find a suitable wife.

Thrown together against all odds, Elise and Thornton couldn’t be from more different worlds. The spark that ignites between them is undeniable, but how can they let it grow when that means forfeiting everything they’ve been working toward?

First Thoughts:

Jody Hedlund is a solid go-to author. I rarely hesitate to read one of her books.

My Take:

What was it like to live in New York City’s Five Points neighborhood at the height of its notoriety? What would it be like to move from there to a brand new town ‘out west’ with fresh air as opposed to a permanent smog? Jody Hedlund explores these thoughts in the first novel of her new series. With You Always focuses on German immigrant Elise who exists in a New York tenement with her sisters. In desperation, they turn to a mission housed in an old brewery where there’s food and work to be found. But it can’t keep out a financial panic and Elise must leave her family in order to provide for them. She gets work in a town being developed by none other than the man who rescues her during the Dead Rabbits Riot.

In With You Always, Hedlund has given readers an engaging tale with fascinating descriptions and great characters. We can understand the poverty of life in New York tenements and the desperation of those with limited options. We can see the contrasting progress of the new railroad towns. I found it difficult to put this book down, only doing so when tiredness overtook me. I wasn’t surprised there was a villain in the piece and I did figure out the connection between that person and another major character. The romance is satisfying: I appreciated that, after the initial misunderstandings, Elise and Thorton were honest with each other. Elise, in particular, didn’t hide anything when she told him how to win the contest.

This is the first novel in the Orphan Train series, but there is a prequel novella. An Awakened Heart focuses on the beginnings of the mission featured in With You Always, but it does introduce Elise and her sisters. I began reading this book immediately after reading the prequel and it felt like one continuous story. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to have read the prequel first, but I would recommend it. It’s available for most electronic readers and is the grand price of free, so why wouldn’t you want to read it?

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary copy of With You Always, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read With You Always? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Author Q and A

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 06 June 2017

Page Count: 368

Read more on:   Jody Hedlund’s Website   Bethany House’s Website

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