Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Finding Margo by Jen Turano

November 21, 2016 Amish, Christian, contemporary, giveaway, Jen Turano, mystery/suspense, romance 36

about the book

Off the charts and on the run.

International pop star Margo Hartman could use a night off. A grueling tour and overbearing entourage have sent her over the edge. It’s time for this diva to disappear. And who would think to look for the superstar in a small town in Ohio?

Sheriff’s deputy Brock Moore is undercover as well. He knows Margo isn’t who she appears to be, but her uncanny resemblance to a local Amish woman is raising all sorts of questions. . .the kinds that make her a target for a killer.

Both are determined to find answers, but their mutual attraction stands in the way of either of them doing it alone. Is finding Margo the solution to Brock’s problems or just the beginning…?

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SERIES: Finding Home #1
GENRE: Romantic Suspense
PUBLISHER: Gilead Publishing
RELEASE DATE: November 15, 2016
PAGES: 320

“Having a duck drop on her head was something straight out of one of her nightmares.”

finding-margo-book-reviewThat quote up there? Could easily be said of me. I have been most forthcoming here on the blog about my absolute terror of all things winged – birds… planes … 80s hair.  (We may not have discussed the 80s hair, but who isn’t a little scared of it?) I never thought that a duck would end up being one of my favorite characters. But, considering this is a Jen Turano book, I really should have known. 😉

Although… can I just say … if Gabby made her entrance into my life the way she did into Margo’s, my car would have been immediately driverless. Assuming of course I stayed conscious long enough to abandon it, moving vehicle or no.

Besides making me fall in love with animals I would otherwise not go near (anyone remember the pig?!?), Jen Turano’s books always make me smile because they’re so pleasantly quirky. I also have been known to hug them close in great delight. Finding Margo, her first published foray into the contemporary genre, is no exception.

If you’re a fan of her historical novels (if you aren’t, you should be), you will find yourself in familiar hands despite the shift in genre. In Jen Turano’s trademark style, an adorable little duck steals every scene she’s in and a simple getaway becomes anything but simple. Even the feel of the dialogue is reminiscent of her historicals, something which might not be everyone’s cup of hot chocolate but which I thought fit well with the quirky nature of the book.

Knowing the “surprise twist” from the beginning, to me, gave Finding Margo deeper meaning and kept my mind whirring throughout as I tried to solve the whys and hows and whos. It took the predictability factor out of the equation so I could focus more on the intricacies of the mystery… something which this armchair detective LOVES. Plus, the additional mystery of Brock’s sister added more intrigue to an already intriguing set of circumstances.

Besides the duck, I love Margo and Brock. Margo is sweet and tenderhearted, despite her upbringing. She’s also rather quirky herself in a completely endearing way. Brock is hunky (of course) and protective, but he’s also got a great sense of humor which comes in handy especially when dealing with Margo’s mother. (Lord, have mercy, but if any character ever needed a good purse whomping, Margo’s mother does.) While this isn’t a “grab the fans and fainting couches” type of romance, the relationship between Brock and Margo will make your heart smile for sure.  Especially in the last couple of chapters!!

Umm… and that ending?? Is it Fall 2017 yet? Because I need the next book, like, NOW. Please. 😀

Bottom Line: A different twist on Amish suspense, as only Jen Turano can write, Finding Margo will make you laugh … and hold your breath … and want to purse whomp some people … and may even make you a bit teary eyed. As my friend Rachel at BookwormMama said so beautifully, “Finding Margo is less about finding where Margo has run off to, and more about finding who she is.” In more ways than one. And therein lies the deeper meaning of this delightful book – we are more than who we were born to, how we were raised, or who we are expected to be.  While there is certainly a little bit of each of those influences that shapes our hearts, the real treasure of Finding Margo is the truth that resting in God’s love for us is the key to finding who we truly are.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

My Rating: 4 stars / Love it!

KissingBook Level: 2.5 / Warm rosy glow of sweetness

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about the author

jen-turano

USA Today best-selling author Jen Turano writes contemporary and historical romances with quirky characters and unusual storylines. Just outside Denver, Colorado, Jen and her husband live as empty-nesters, and they do so fabulously. Contact Jen at jenturano.com.

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from the author

The Making of “Finding Margo”

By Jen Turano

a-change-of-fortuneTo say that my entrance into the publishing world was a tad difficult is certainly an understatement.  My very first attempt at writing was centered around a middle grade book, specifically written for my son who was in the third grade at the time.  After finishing that, and sending it out to all of five companies, none of whom represented middle grade, I then moved on to young adult with a little more interest sent my way, but no success story to report in the end.  Not one to embrace the idea of complete and utter failure, I then tried my hand at a contemporary romance, moved on to what I assumed was a delightful regency romance, but one that turned out to be not that delightful, at least according to numerous agents, and finally landed on gilded age stories, filled with quirky heroines.  That is when I finally received my very first publishing contract, which then saw me catapulted into the very weird world of publishing.  After completing the second gilded age story of my two-book contract, I found myself with some time on my hands as I waited to see if anyone would read my stories, which might then result in an offer of additional book contracts.  As I waited, I decided I might as well keep writing, so decided to try another contemporary story, although my agent at that time suggested I try to write an Amish book since she had numerous requests from publishers for those specific books.

Because my writing voice is not what anyone might consider normal, I really didn’t believe I’d be able to do justice to an authentic Amish story.  Because of that, I settled on the idea of writing a contemporary romantic suspense, being a huge fan of that genre.  I had a vague notion of exploring a theme centered around a dog walker who might stumble on a body while walking her pack of dogs, or perhaps have a storyline that centered around a makeup artist who witnessed a crime while setting out her makeup for a client, but those ideas went straight away when I pulled out the vacuum one fine day.

Woman Vacuuming

Vacuuming, as well as staining the deck, cleaning the shower, and power-washing the garage, are my go-to activities when I need to get the muse working right before I start a first draft. On that particular day, as I pushed the vacuum around the house, I suddenly had the most intriguing idea – an idea that started off with two delightful little words…What…and…If.

That was all it took for a premise to begin festering through my mind, a fester that grew into this – What if three Amish children were stolen straight out of their beds, never to be seen or heard from again until… Now here’s where it gets interesting.  I decided to have a woman by the name of Margo Hartman, an international superstar no less, stumble into this small Ohio town quite by accident, and…she happens to bear an uncommon resemblance to an Amish woman who lives in this town.  To add an additional sense of intrigue, someone immediately begins trying their very best to kill poor Margo.

By the time I was done vacuuming, the storyline for “Finding Margo” was firmly cemented in my mind, which translates into Jen had no choice other than to write the story.  However, before my agent at that time found a home for the manuscript, I signed another contract for more gilded age books, which meant I did not have the time to commit to what was certainly going to have to be a three-book series since, well, there were three Amish children who’d gone missing.

Fast forward around five years and I found myself a little ahead of schedule at exactly the right time.  There was a new publishing house in town, my current agent remembered me talking about this quirky book I’d written long ago, and as luck would have it, I found the flash drive that’s been home to “Finding Margo” for all these years.

Since my writing style has certainly changed since I first wrote Margo’s story, I ended up rewriting the entire book, and I must say that I’m still just as intrigued with the storyline as I was when it popped to mind while vacuuming what seems like ages ago.  I’m just tickled to death that Margo Hartman has finally found her way out of a flash drive and onto the pages of a book.  I’m hoping readers will enjoy her as much as I enjoyed writing her.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with me today, and for supporting my books over the years.  I cannot properly express how important all my readers have become to me, and I’m incredibly thankful for every one of you.  You’ve brightened up my life and without you, well, I wouldn’t have anyone to share the stories that always seem to rumble around my mind.

God bless!

~ Jen ~

Other Books by Jen Turano

Visit Jen’s Amazon Page for more!

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To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and signed copies of her book! Enter via the Promosimple form below. Be sure to comment on this post to claim your nine entries on the giveaway!

Click here to view this promotion.

Follow along with the Celebrate Lit tour to see a list of blog stops for more chances to win!

What about you? What is one of your favorite animal characters in fiction?

Carrie

36 Responses to “Book Review (and a Giveaway!): Finding Margo by Jen Turano”

  1. Melony Teague

    What a lovely book! And I loved hearing more about how the story came about! And Carrie, Yes, Purse whomping needed for sure! I was totally like you, is it 2017 yet?

  2. Rachel Dixon

    Thanks for the shout out my friend! Amazing review!!!! <3 At least she has a book coming out this spring to tide us over right? Hehe

  3. Andrea Stephens

    Wow! Now I really want to read this book! I love Jen’s voice.
    I’ve added it to my wishlist. I don’t want to be a tortured reader though 😉

    • Carrie

      hahaha! This particular book gets all nicely wrapped up but there’s a great teaser for the next one at the end!

      • Andrea Stephens

        Oh good! I’m glad it gets wrapped up. I become a bit grumpy if I had to wait till fall of next year. I’ll skip the teaser…maybe.

        • Andrea Stephens

          I’m a dunce, I forgot to answer the question too. There are so many childhood favorites, Curious George, Wilber, Charlotte, Mrs. Frisby, Lassie, and others.
          I can’t find the book but it was a cozy mystery I read 6 years ago, one of the first I read on my Kindle. The female lead inherited a basset hound or I should say the basset hound inherited her as the story was told from the dog’s point of view. I remember loving the dog. I’m trying to find it again. If I do I’ll let you know the name.

          • Carrie

            Oh how fun!!! I don’t remember that one – please do let me know!

    • Connie Saunders

      Sorry, I didn’t answer your question. Gonna have to go with both Wilbur and Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web. Here I am a grown (and older) adult and I still cry at this sweet story!

  4. JACKIE MCNUTT

    I am a huge fan of Jen’s books ! I think I have read most of them , and I am looking forward to this new one !
    Thanks for the great review Carrie. I think the pet pig is among my favorites.

  5. Britney Adams

    Thank you for sharing your delightful review, Carrie! I love Jen’s stories and can’t wait to read this one!!

  6. Pam K.

    I am a huge fan of Jen Turano’s historical books so am really looking forward to reading Finding Margo. I find it fun when authors take the risk to go outside their usual genre.

  7. Marilyn

    Thanks for this giveaway. I have heard nothing but rave reviews of this book.
    Marilyn

  8. Janice Moore

    My favorite fiction animal is from Jan Karon’s creation. Barnabas makes me laugh out loud! Picture a beloved,wildly running dog who only stops when Scripture is said!

  9. Bonnie Roof

    Two of my favorite animal characters from fiction are Wilbur and Charlotte from ‘Charlotte’s Web’ – I’m guessing even you enjoy these fictional animals, LOL!! Can’t wait to read ‘Finding Margo’ – which I know will be another delightful story from Jen, love the “finding herself’ element involved and love your review (excellent, as always)!!

    • Carrie

      haha! Yes!! Wilbur and Charlotte are my friends 😀 Thanks, my friend!

  10. Winnie Thomas

    I would have to say Winnie the Pooh, for obvious reasons! I have yet to read about Gabby, though, so that could change. I’ve loved Jen’s books that I’ve read, and I’m looking forward to reading Finding Margo. It’s on my kindle patiently (?) waiting.

  11. Cyndi

    So many good choices! I’d say my favorite is Petunia, the goose from the Roger Duvoisin books! “He who owns (and reads) books and loves them is wise!” I also love the pet pig! ?

  12. Karen

    I’m so excited to read your take on contemporary fiction with some Amish elements, Jen! I’m sure that I’ll love it just as much as your other books! 😉