20 February 2017

"At Your Request" by Jen Turano

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Part of a series?: Yes, Book #0.5 of the Apart from the Crowd series
Genre: Christian historical romance
Format read: Free e-book from the publisher
Sweet or hot?: Definitely sweet

Disclosure: “Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.”

I found out about this book from an ad on Facebook. How Facebook's algorithm knew that I liked Jen Turano is beyond me, considering that I haven't done a search or read one of her books in about a year. Anyway, I was happy to see the ad and clicked through for the free novella, only to find a slightly complicated set of instructions for downloading it directly from the publisher. I was all prepared to relay those instructions to you, dear reader, only to find that it is available for free on Amazon. Why would the publisher make it so hard on me? Must have been a tracking thing.

At Your Request is a novella that is the first title from Jen Turano's new Apart from the Crowd series. It is set in New York in 1883 and features Wilhemina Radcliff, a socialite whose family fell on hard times when her father suffered a financial setback. Just a few short years after her dazzling debut, Wilhemina has fallen from grace due to the fickle nature of the upper crust and is now relegated to the wallflower section of society events as a paid social secretary. To her chagrin, Edgar Wanamaker, a childhood friend who has been away for many years, shows up at one of these events. Since she rejected his proposal of marriage rather callously the last time they saw each other, she is not looking forward to seeing him again.

Turano is great at putting a funny scene right at the beginning of her books, and this novella is no exception. The scene where Wilhemina and Edgar first meet again is like classic screwball comedy. The witty banter and almost tongue-twisting wordplay that these privileged characters engage in is almost Austenesque and makes a refreshing change from the simple language in the farm-based historicals that I often read. The overall tone of Turano's work makes me think of the tinkle of a piano and the sparkle of a bubbly beverage.

This is a Christian romance, which means it is sweet. I have a feeling that there are some Christians who will object to a couple of sentences where one of the characters uses a necklace to point out her "charms", but that is as hot as it gets. There aren't any references to the Bible or church in this introduction to the series; if I was a new reader and didn't already know that Bethany House was a Christian publisher, I wouldn't know this book was Christian at all. I did read a sneak peek of the next book and there was a mention of God and prayer, but Turano's writing style is more stealthily inspirational that up-front preachy.

There's usually a caper in which the hero and heroine try to locate stolen goods or some such in Turano's books. That wasn't present here, but I'm not surprised since the word count of a novella doesn't leave room to do that type of plot justice. The main function of At Your Request is to introduce the reader to characters that will be featured in future books. Two of the wallflowers are already set to be featured in upcoming books, the first of which is set to be released in April. In the meantime, the novella is still available for free on Amazon.

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