Monday, May 8, 2017

Jen Turano: Behind the Scenes

By Kelly Bridgewater

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. . . .

Behind the Scenes  -     By: Jen Turano

My Review:

I'm a huge fan of Jen Turano's work. She brings the nineteenth century to life for my imagination. She creates rich characters who go against the norm and conventions for women. While I adore the cover for her newest release Behind the Scenes, I couldn't wait to dive in and read Permilia's story. With an introduction to the high society of New York City in 1883, I was drawn into the story right away.

The writing is clear and concise. I had no problem imaging the Vanderbilt's estate with all of high society dressed up in their costumes as they partied the night away. Turano does a great job at researching what these people wore. What is acceptable behavior, dances, and clothes. The story flowed well from her research, inviting me to wander along with Permilia and Asher.

The pace of the story took a while to capture my attention. The story starts out with Permilia headed to the Vanderbilt costume party with her step-sister and step-mother. For a long time, it was just the details of the party and the wall flowers, so I kept praying the entire novel was not this dull. I understand this laid the ground work for the story, but the party took up the first thirty percent of the novel. That is one long party. But after leaving the party, the rest of the novel picks up pace and ends in a unpredictable mystery that I didn't see coming. The mystery ending did write very well, and Turano did include moments where Asher and Permilia were shot at and running from the bad guys, so this was definitely written a lot better than most historical mysteries I have read.

The characters of Permilia and Asher were different because of their ability to stand on what they believed. Permilia is a Daddy's girl who worked with her father in the mines until her remarried to Ida, her step-mother, than her father wanted her to understand the rules of high society and join them. Permilia felt out of place. Something I can totally relate to. Since she is a member of the wallflowers and hides out the outskirts at these social engagements, she can observe and take notes for the world to read. I enjoy her strong behavior and knowing what she wants. Permilia doesn't let the opinions of others affect how she runs her life. As for Asher, he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but as I learned later on, his family lost their fortune, so Asher used his business sense to open a successful mercenary in town. The only one in town that employed woman. He saw woman as important to the success of the business world, not as a hindrance.

Romance between Asher and Permilia was not the main focus of the story but of course, it did develop through the story. I enjoyed how Turano didn't have all these unrealistic feelings internally struggling between Asher and Permilia. I'm glad she allowed their relationship to grow and blossom just like the characters did.

Behind the Scenes is an original story with richly developed characters who are trying to mingle along the wealthy and avoid death at the hands of some crazy people. Fans of Jen Turano's other two series should pick up this exciting introduction to her new series and be prepared for a well-written story worth savoring.

I received a complimentary copy of Jen Turano's Behind the Scenes from Bethany House Publishers and the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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