A Most Peculiar Circumstance Book Review

Image courtesy of Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group

Summer is the time to chill out with a tall glass of something cold and a good book. My summer has been busy this year, but I certainly did not want to pass up the opportunity to relax with an entertaining read. This weekend, I was able to delve into one on my TBR list.

A Most Peculiar Circumstance is Jen Turano's second novel featuring lighthearted comedy, sweet romance, and memorable characters. Set in 1880 New York during America's Gilded Age, the novel follows the independent and high-spirited Arabella Beckett, champion of the women's suffrage movement. Miss Arabella often finds herself in a spot of trouble, giving her propensity to be outspoken and opinionated in a time when women were expected to be sweet and domesticated. It doesn't help that most men, especially private investigator Theodore Wilder, seem to think that she shouldn't travel the country for speaking engagements, but instead, to content herself by remaining quietly at home.

The novel starts off with Arabella in a very strange predicament. She is in trouble partly because of aiding another woman who had been deceived into entering a prostitution ring. Theodore, already on assignment to find Arabella and bring her back home to New York, must now rescue her out of jail! The sparks fly when he realizes just how strong-willed she is.

The conflict doesn't end once they journey home. It seems that whatever danger Arabella encountered upon her travels has now followed her to New York. As Theodore and Arabella work to solve the mystery of who is targeting her, they find themselves equally challenged and attracted to each other.

This book was an overall good read, with only a few minor detractions. Turano's characters have their brand of wit and humor that sparkles throughout the novel's course of events. Arabella is a likeable heroine whose quest for women's rights speaks to modern readers without being brash. Theodore is a gentleman. He's strong, protective and adorably stubborn. The chauvinism he displays in the beginning gradually tempers as he learns to view women not only as intellectual equals, but entitled to the same opportunities as men.

Now for those minor detractions. There were times when I thought that too many characters were "on screen" at once. I understand that Turano may have been doing this in order to prepare readers for future books in the series. With that being said, I wanted Theodore and Arabella to have some private moments where they could banter, but it seems that in most scenes, there were relatives and friends present. Most of them give a wink and nudge, so to speak, teasing the hero or heroine about their growing affections for the other. This is just my opinion, but I thought that their blossoming romance could have done with less of an audience and more of a stolen kiss or two.

If you like the vintage Georgette Heyer romances or the comedies of P.G. Wodehouse,  you'll  probably like this book. Turano weaves comedy, romance, and mystery all into one pleasing story.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House with the understanding that I would provide an honest review.


What's on your summer reading list?