Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano (review)

behindthescenes_turano_bethanyhouse.jpgAfter being introduced to a small group of ladies relegated to being wallflowers in the prequel novella, At Your Request (read my review here), I was excited to delve into the first full-length Apart From the Crowd novel.  This was a must read, in great part due to my personal love of the name Permilia (though I prefer the spelling of my French-Canadian great-grandmother’s name ‘Permelia’).

“I’m not wearing any shoes, so it’s highly unlikely I hurt you, but–” she bit her lip–“I will apologize for kicking you.  I’ve never been prone to violence before, but…something about you seems to bring it out in me.”

The corners of his lips began to twitch.  “Should I take that as a compliment?”

“I don’t believe so.” (p.120)

Jen Turano’s humor shines through her fiction, and she tends to get her characters into situations I would not have necessarily imagined for a historical novel.  This novel is no exception.  Add on to this the element of suspense, with Permilia overhearing a threat to the life of Asher Rutherford – and acting on it – and you have an interesting story.  But Turano goes further by including new and continuing secondary characters that, for me, make this book.

“You really are a very nice gentleman, aren’t you–no matter the rumors I’ve heard regarding your business associates?” (p.85)

Permilia as a main character is not personally very sympathetic, though her circumstances are, and Asher comes off as a rather shallow clotheshorse more than a successful businessman.  The mystery element is really the best part of the Asher/Permilia love story, even with the overdramatic climactic scene that verged on being a melodrama.

“I realize that you’re a most unusual lady, but it’s hardly a lady’s place to intercede on a gentleman’s behalf simply because she’s of the belief someone is determined to kill that gentleman.” (p.142)

It was that story and the secondary characters that held my interest the most.  I do anticipate enjoying book 2 even more, as two of my favorite secondary characters take the lead.  I’m particularly looking forward to more of Mrs. Davenport, the light-fingered lady who tends to get her paid companion into one pickle after another.  Her behavior bodes well for some extremely amusing shenanigans in Out of the Ordinary (expected out in November 2017).

“Given the manner in which you’ve been lurking around the edges of ballrooms for what must be going on two years now, dear, I’m not certain you should be throwing such a judgmental attitude my way.”

“You’ve noticed my lurking?”

“And have applauded it,” Mrs. Davenport returned.  “I readily admit, though, that I have yet to figure out what you’re up to, but don’t fret because…I will.” (p.109)

Recommended for fans of Jen Turano, as well as those who enjoy humorous Historical Romance with a faith element.  These wallflowers are no shrinking violets, and their adventures and romances are sure to please!

Behind the Scenes (Apart From the Crowd, #1) by Jen Turano | Bethany House, April 2017 | paperback, 352 pages

I voluntarily received a finished copy for review from the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own.

From the Publisher:

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.


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