Saturday, 29 June 2013

Book Review: "A Most Peculiar Circumstance" by Jen Turano

Miss Arabella Beckett has one driving passion: to help the downtrodden women of America. Naturally, she supports the women's suffrage movement and eagerly attends rallies and lectures across the country. On her travels, she makes a simple offer of assistance to a young woman in need that goes sadly awry and lands both ladies in more trouble than they can manage. An independent sort, Arabella is loath to admit she needs help and certainly doesn't need help from an arrogant, narrow-minded knight in shining armor.

Mr. Theodore Wilder, private investigator extraordinaire, is on a mission. A mission that began as a favor to his good friend Hamilton Beckett, but swiftly evolved into a merry chase across the country. By the time he finally tracks down Hamilton's sister, Arabella, he is in a less than pleasant mood. When the lady turns out to have radical ideas and a fiercely independent streak, he soon finds himself at his wit's end.

When they return home to New York, circumstances force their paths to continue to cross, but the most peculiar feelings growing between them certainly can't be love. When the trouble Arabella had accidentally stirred up seems to have followed her to New York and threatens her very life, the unlikely couple must face the possibility that they might have landed in the most peculiar circumstance of all: love.

-image and summary from

When I was in Chapters one time, I saw the first book in this series, A Change of Fortune, and almost bought it. But I ended up leaving the store empty-handed; one, because I'm a poor university student with almost no money to my name, and secondly, because while flipping through it something just did not grip me heart and soul.

Now I regret that decision after reading A Most Peculiar Circumstance.

There were a lot of things I enjoyed about this novel. The quirky, quick-witted characters, especially the women, had me chortling to myself with their antics. These were girls I would love to have as friends. Though many of them were the 'feminists' of their time, they were by no means women trying to become men. The whole point of early feminism was to bolster the woman into the place she deserved--not as an overlooked part of society, but a real factor in the world around them. It wasn't just to give them more opportunity for employment, but to render the world with more appreciation for women in general, whether they be 'working women' or stay-at-home wives and mothers.

This point was wonderfully shown in Turano's novel. Arabella, despite being a leading suffragette, loves pink, fashion, and has a very girly name. Yet she can still shoot a gun. And yet, although she's very brave, Turano shows she is very much human, with fears and desires all her own. She's not just some cut-and-paste character.

Another factor I adored about this novel was the relationship between siblings. Sister-sister, or brother-brother relationships are widely strewn across Christian fiction, but it was a breath of fresh air to read about Arabella and her brothers Zayne and Hamilton. They were so much fun together, with spats and yet so much love for each other.

The few things that threw me off a little were how some of the names were very similar--lots of names ending or beginning with 'a', and since I hadn't read the previous book to know the characters from there, at times I confused Agatha with Arabella and such.

Next, the use of the word "sputter" in its various forms was continuously seen throughout the novel. I think this is something the editor should have caught, because it occurred so often it threw me off a little.

As well, the romance is very predictable, but it is historical romance, so it's not like you don't know what's supposed to happen. Arabella and Theodore's growing fondness was cute, though from the book itself it seems a few of the actions on Theodore's part were the same as Arabella's brother in the previous book. While this makes for some laughs at the character's expense, in the writing aspect I can't help but wonder if this author keeps to a formula for every single book, just switching up the characters. That worries me a little.

However, I will still very much look forward to the next book from Jen Turano, A Talent for Trouble, when it's released later this year!

Four stars!

I received a copy of this book from the Bethany House Blogger Review Program in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for the opportunity!