Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review - A Most Peculiar Circumstance by Jen Turano

Cover ArtMiss Arabella Beckett, defender of the down-trodden women of America, is returning from her travels in support of the women's suffrage movement when she makes a simple offer of assistance to a young woman in need. But things go sadly awry, and both ladies soon find themselves in dire need of rescue. Arabella, always loath to admit she needs help, is particularly reluctant to receive assistance from the arrogant, narrow-minded knight in shining armor who shows up just in time.

Private investigator extraordinaire Mr. Theodore Wilder is on an assignment that began as a favor to his good friend Hamilton Beckett, but swiftly evolved into a merry chase across the country. He is already in a less than pleasant mood, and when Hamilton's sister turns out to have radical ideas and a fiercely independent streak, he's at his wit's end. 

Much to their chagrin, Theodore and Arabella's paths continue to cross when they return home to New York, but the most unusual feelings beginning to grow between them certainly can't be anything serious. When the trouble Arabella accidentally stirred up in her travels follows her home 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.

This is the second book in the Ladies of Distinction Series by Jen Turano.  To see my review of Book 1 (A Change of Fortune) visit this post.

Similar to the first book in the series, A Most Peculiar Circumstance is set in 1880 soon after the end of book one.  The heroine, Miss Arabella Beckett is travelling to further her passion, the Women's Suffrage Movement and is absent for the exchange of vows for her brother Hamilton and Lady Eliza (book one). Thankfully for new readers of A Most Peculiar Circumstance, you will not be lost if you haven't read book one.   

One strength of the novel is
the author's love and penchant for humor.  The story is lighthearted despite the heavy topics supporting it. There is suspense and intrigue dabbled within the romance plot lines to keep the story moving and interesting. At times I found the humor reminding me of an I Love Lucy episode, but some readers might thoroughly enjoy that style.

Another strength I found was the friendship and bonds between the lady characters.  Agatha, also present in book one, makes for many laughs again. Arabella befriends Katherine and Eliza; and the banter and fellowship between the ladies is entertaining. However, I found the male characters to be slightly thin; I would have loved to see more depth to them.  Theodore in particular seemed too easy to stereotype his reactions and predict his movements. As well, the "ladies of the night" characters seemed very flat, uninteresting and unrealistic.  Their story line added much to the plot late in the book but there personalities were limp and uninteresting.

There is a lot of dialogue within the story and less introspective thoughts from the characters.  I am undecided if I liked this more or not. It made for a quicker read perhaps, but seemed wordy at times. I did appreciate that the characters weren't burdened with the common ailment of romance novels of flipping between feeling one way and speaking another.  That was refreshing.  However, if all that keeps two people from falling in love is one honest conversation the story can lack interest and uniqueness. So, as I said - I am undecided. 

The plot was an interesting idea and appeared to be a good conflict.  As a reader though I found my interest waning too often and had to force myself to continue on reading at least twice. The ending was good and fun to read but felt detached from the rest of the book.  I wish the author had left out the first half of the book and taken up the story when the ladies started disappearing. Then stretched the ending out more to develop the reason the ladies were taken and the search to recover them.  The "bad guy" felt very random dropping in at the end of the book. (Especially since he had such a large part to play). The ending felt too contrived for me. Arabella is a very resourceful woman but I doubt her abilities would surpass that many other women. Perhaps they could have worked together more showing off more of the secondary characters determination and fortitude - which ladies of the night would definitely have in spades.

Overall I found the book entertaining and an easy light read. However, I did not enjoy it as much as the first installment. I have hopes that book three will take a slightly different turn and focus more on character development, and perhaps we will see a few challenges thrown in that don't involve ladies ending up in prison. 

This is my opinion only and if you check out others who have reviewed this same title you will find many who loved and adored the book immensely. Such as A Book Lover's Heart or Cozy Seaside Homestead or Montana Made. I think readers who want a lighthearted read, but heavy on the fun and witty side will enjoy this title.

For a further glimpse into the character of Arabella and the story check out Jen Turano's website where she has posted a special addition to compliment the story A Most Peculiar Circumstance.  

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

No comments:

Post a Comment