Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano
Published By Bethany House Publishers April 04, 2017
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Miss Permilia Griswold may have been given the opportunity of a debut into New York high society, but no one warned her she wasn’t guaranteed to “take.” After spending the last six years banished to the wallflower section of the ballroom, she’s finally putting her status on the fringes of society to good use by penning anonymous society gossip columns under the pseudonym “Miss Quill.”
Mr. Asher Rutherford has managed to maintain his status as a reputable gentleman of society despite opening his own department store. While pretending it’s simply a lark to fill his time, he has quite legitimate reasons for needing to make his store the most successful in the country. When Permilia overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Rutherford, she’s determined to find and warn the man. Disgruntled at a first meeting that goes quite poorly and results in Asher not believing her, she decides to take matters into her own hands, never realizing she’ll end up at risk as well.
As Asher and Permilia are forced to work together and spend time away from the spotlight of society, perhaps there’s more going on behind the scenes than they ever could have anticipated. . . .
Jen Turano’s latest foray into the world of 1880’s New York Society takes a different point of view that will enthrall and entertain readers immensely.
How many of us have longed to join the popular people and be included in the fashionable set everyone else seems to be looking to for advice? Jen Turano takes this question on in her latest book about New York society – but focuses instead on those who would have been considered the “fringe holders” rather than the “forerunners”. And this focus will allow her to delve deeper into those who are a very-real-but-unacknowledged part of society – the merchants that clothe and accessorize society, and the wallflowers that know all of its well kept secrets . Jen Turano is one of my favorite writers, given her excellent phrasing and sharp-witted dialogue, and her latest book met then surpassed my expectations. She has her characters be those who think and act outside the box seemingly assigned them which always makes for fun adventures and conversations crackling with sarcasm and laughter. Ms. Turano presents her readers with a wonderfully smart and confident character named Permilia Griswold – a 6th year debutante who is firmly situated the the “wallflower” category of society. This condition suits Permilia fine as she is more interested in her career as a society news writer than in finding a husband. And this career also allows her to be the main benefactor of a school for girls that works to find them genteel jobs well away from the factories and workhouses where they are usually employed. It will be at one of the biggest parties of the season that Permilia will stumble across her best story yet, although it will be one she will not be free to submit for printing – a death plot against Mr. Asher Rutherford. Asher is Ms. Turano’s chosen hero for this story and he is one of her best yet. His well-established family’s wealth has become non-existent and, in an effort to save face in society, Asher has opened a department store under the guise of a new hobby. The irony of it being one of the most visited fashion stores outside of the House of Worth makes things all the better for Asher. And his latest endeavor to open a tea room on the top floor of his store will, unintentionally, make him the target of a very nasty death plot. Having been on the receiving end of Permilia’s confusing sense of logic and ideas before Asher is loath to accept her telling of a plot she overheard involving his demise. But when several attempts are made on his life, often while his is with friends, Asher begins to see that someone means him real harm. What follows will be a hilarious romp through the streets and homes of New York, ending with a conclusion that all readers will find most satisfying indeed. Ms. Turano’s way of looking at circumstances through the eyes of her characters is one that I find most enjoyable. She makes both Permilia and Asher so very real in her writing that one almost feels like they are actually walking alongside them as they go about their lives. I laughed so much at her description of Permilia’s mistaken belief that the “Go-As-You-Please” quadrille meant that the dancers involved dance however they wished rather than following known steps. And the many escapades Permilia and her friend Gertrude find themselves in as they go about trying to keep Asher safe almost brought me to tears in their hilarity – as did the accompanying explanations. And Ms. Turano does not leave all the best lines to the main characters either. Rather, she has some really wonderful sub-characters included that help the main characters (and readers too!) see the whole truth, instead of what is plainly seen. I also find the way in which Ms. Turano includes faith in her stories to be one of the best – faith is as much a part of her character’s lives as breathing but they are not fanatical in the sharing of their faith. And Ms. Turano always make sure that her characters find a challenge put to their faith within the story so that they are continually on a journey to grow closer to God. Additionally, I liked very much that she kept the identity of the intended murderer secret until the last few pages. She gave just enough clues to keep the reader guessing but never enough that one could figure it out well before the end of the story. And the fleshing out of the ending was very good – one that allows Ms. Turano the freedom to either leave the story as a single novel or turn it into a series, which I know she intends to do. I will most certainly recommend this book to my friends and family and will be purchasing a copy of this book for my shelves. Ms. Turano continues of offer excellent stories with well-developed characters and sparkling dialogue that will keep all readers highly engaged and entertained. I’m very much looking forward to her next story in this Apart From The Crowd series.
I received this E-book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.