Friday, June 28, 2013

A Most Peculiar Circumstance by Jen Turano

Read an excerpt here.
Miss 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.

A Most Peculiar Circumstance by Jen Turano was a delightful novel that kept me enthralled in its pages for hours. The novel is the sequel to A Change of Fortune and is set in the late 1800's, and while several aspects of the novel did seem to be historically accurate, my biggest issue with the dating of this novel was the assumption that prostitution was an illegal and jailing offense in the United States. I looked it up, and this act was only illegal in the early to mid 1900's. If this novel was not explicitly dated to be in the late 1800's, then it certainly would have fit better a couple of decades later. That being said, I found the plot line as a whole to be engaging, suspenseful, and both humorous and more serious. The themes of the novel were very well developed and clear. The major topics addressed were the importance of helping others without judging their situation, loving and trusting in God, and being willing to change when convicted of sin by God and others. The novel was set in third person narrative, but sections of A Most Peculiar Circumstance alternated from being told from Arabella or Theodore's point of view, which allowed the reader to have an idea about what both main characters were feeling and thinking.

The main characters are Arabella Beckett and Theodore Wilder, but familiar characters such as Eliza and Hamilton Beckett, Zayne Beckett, and Agatha are still very much a part of this novel as well. Arabella and Theodore are complete opposites, and it is quite fun to see them be mutually attracted to one another and yet clashing at every turn. Both characters are a realistic mix of flaws, strengths, and lovable quirks. Theodore is forced to reconsider his views of women and their rights as well as to begin to come back to a relationship with God. Arabella as a women's rights activist had always been quick to try to help women and others, oftentimes without asking if wanted help. However, during this novel she is convicted about her attitude and reasons for helping others and how she views God. I found her revelations convicting for me as well as she wrestled with judgmental feelings and trying to help others in a humble way. The other characters that were first introduced in A Change of Fortune continue to add to this novel with their own unique personalities, and new characters, such as Theodore's family, contribute more depth and humor to the story as they influence the main characters' situations and decisions.
Overall, I enjoyed A Most Peculiar Circumstance immensely, and I highly recommend it and Jen Turano's other novel to any reader looking for a sweet and funny novel, perfect for any summer read.

I received this novel for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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