When you read a book by Jen Turano, prepare to alternately laugh and swoon. Sometimes you skip the “alternately” clause and head straight for “simultaneously”. During the course of the book, you may also find yourself holding your breath, biting your nails, flailing dramatically, and grinning. So much grinning.
Miss Harriet Peabody dreams of the day she can open up a shop selling refashioned gowns to independent working women like herself. Unfortunately, when an errand for her millinery shop job goes sadly awry due to a difficult customer, she finds herself without an income.
Mr. Oliver Addleshaw is on the verge of his biggest business deal yet when he learns his potential partner prefers to deal with men who are settled down and wed. When Oliver witnesses his ex not-quite-fiancée causing the hapless Harriet to lose her job, he tries to make it up to her by enlisting her help in making a good impression on his business partner.
Harriet quickly finds her love of fashion can’t make her fashionable. She’ll never truly fit into Oliver’s world, with its fancy dinners and elegant balls, but just as she’s ready to call off the fake relationship a threat from her past forces both Oliver and Harriet to discover that love can come in the most surprising packages.
As the first installment in Jen Turano’s newest series, After A Fashion not only delivers a delightful story but also nicely sets the stage for the next books. We are introduced not only to Harriet Peabody but also her roommates Millie Longfellow and Lucetta Plum, a trio of friends who exude both wit and affection. I have a feeling that Reverend Gilmore, Archibald Addleshaw, and Abigail Hart will remain in play throughout the series as well – and I could not be happier about that! Not to mention Oliver Addleshaw (Harriet’s fake fiance) and his best friend Everett Mulberry (who figures quite prominently in the second book In Good Company). Oh, and let’s not forget the star of the show – Buford the dog 🙂
Her characters are just one of the reasons I have inhaled each and every one of Jen’s books (We’ll get to the rest of the reasons in a moment.) Full of heart and warmth and life, they really do feel like the kind of people I would want as my friends. Progressive but traditional at the same time, the women refuse to settle for what society expects of them and boy do they have a blast! Above all of that though is the simple fact that her characters – both male and female – refuse to settle for cardboard caricatures either; they are often flawed, though never irredeemably. This adds to the “real-ness” factor and makes their story that much more interesting.
Speaking of “realness”, I just adore that Jen Turano has a degree in “Clothing and Textiles”, discovered that fashion wasn’t quite all that, and eventually began a writing career that led to… writing a book that swirls with fashion. God has such a sense of humor and tenderness, and He sometimes takes our dreams and (pardon the pun here) refashions them into something that would just blow us away if He let us in on the secret too soon.
With each new book of Ms. Turano’s that I read, I find myself wondering how in the world she is going to top the crazy and hilarious situations into which she thrusts her characters. And then somehow she finds a way to do just that! Harriet seems to find her fair share of hysterical antics even if she stumbles into most of them quite unwillingly. One of the scenes that had me laughing the loudest was her first… um… encounter with Miss Birmingham, which also happens to be when she meets Oliver as well. The crazy was real, y’all. And so deliciously entertaining lol. Along with the comical shenanigans, there are the more subtle bits of humor that Jen weaves throughout the book. Lucetta’s line-memorization quirks. Millie’s misuse of words. Buford. And, while not especially humorous, the twist at the end? Oh my! Never saw it coming!
Bottom Line: Long-time fans of Jen Turano’s will love After A Fashion, and first-time readers will fall in love with her style. She proves that historical fiction doesn’t have to be stuffy and creates heroes and heroines that will wrap around your heart and leave behind a grin when you turn the last page. If you love romantic comedies and/or historical fiction, this is a book you need to read!
I give After A Fashion 5 out of 5 stars and am currently diving right into In Good Company, book 2 in the series. Look for my review tomorrow!
(Disclaimer: I won a copy of this book in a giveaway for which no promise of a review was given. This is, as always, only my honest opinion.)
Jen Turano is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in Clothing and Textiles. She pursued a career in management for nine years before switching to full-time motherhood after the birth of her son. When she’s not writing, Jen can be found watching her teenage son participate in various activities, taking long walks with her husband and dog, socializing with friends, or delving into a good book. She lives in suburban Denver, Colorado. Learn more at www.jenturano.com.