Behind the Scenes (2017) by Jen Turano is the first book in her Apart From the Crowd series. This novel comes in all forms including eBook, and is 352 pages in length. With a full-time job and a rambunctious five year old at home, this novel took me four days to read. I give this novel 5+ STARS. This novel is a Christian Historical Romance.
Here is the GoodReads blurb:
Miss Permilia Griswold may have been given the opportunity of a debut into New York high society, but no one warned her she wasn’t guaranteed to “take.” After spending the last six years banished to the wallflower section of the ballroom, she’s finally putting her status on the fringes of society to good use by penning anonymous society gossip columns under the pseudonym “Miss Quill.”
Mr. Asher Rutherford has managed to maintain his status as a reputable gentleman of society despite opening his own department store. While pretending it’s simply a lark to fill his time, he has quite legitimate reasons for needing to make his store the most successful in the country.
When Permilia overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Rutherford, she’s determined to find and warn the man. Disgruntled at a first meeting that goes quite poorly results in Asher not believing her, she decides to take matters into her own hands, never realizing she’ll end up at risk as well.
As Asher and Permilia are forced to work together and spend time away from the spotlight of society, perhaps there’s more going on behind the scenes than they ever could have anticipated.
I love Jen Turano novels. I think that she may be one of the wittiest and funniest writers out in today’s Christian fiction market. Her characters are SO full of life, even when they are sad. And, the situations Ms. Turano’s characters find themselves in are usually hard to believe, but totally fitting given her characters and their personalities.
Behind the Scenes is hilarious. There were some moments in this novel where I laughed so hard I cried. I stopped my husband a dozen times in his tracks so I could read the funny passages over to him. The antics of Permilia and Asher remind me of early Katherine Hepburn and Carey Grant comedies, specifically Bringing Up Baby. This novel has that kind of verbal and physical slapstick. Most of the real comedy comes from Asher, who quickly realizes through his interactions with Permilia that he is not a rough and tumble, manly man. This bothers him profusely, and he often discusses it with his best friend, Harrison, in an attempt to correct his problem.
Let me just give you a taste of the hilarity with a couple of my favorite quotes:
“He was a disgrace to the title of gentleman. Resolving right there and then, in the midst of the foot traffic on Broadway, that he would strive to change that unfortunate situation, Asher moved into motion again. That he truly had no idea how to accomplish the daunting task of becoming more, well, manly, was a cause for concern.”
“Leaning forward, Asher caught Harrison’s eye. ‘I want you to teach me how to become a dangerous gentleman, one who looks as if he eats nails for breakfast and bullets for lunch.'”
Hilarious! Simply hilarious. I feel like I need to read this book again!!!
I really enjoyed the Cinderella nod that resonates throughout this story! As per Turano’s norm though, this story is unique in that it begins at the end of Cinderella with the beautiful ball, the lovely dresses, and the fantastic food. Our Cinderella character, she’s a wallflower, and Prince Charming is kind of a stuffy jerk! What a cool twist! I loved seeing Permilia immediately bucking the system so to speak, and bucking the constraints of the fairy tale. It allowed the comedy to begin from page 1. Permilia is a fantastic character. She was raised by her father after her mother died when she was a young girl. Her father traveled extensively when Permilia was little and took her with him, which means she did not grow up with New York society, hence her wallflower status and unique way of thinking about life. Seeing the Gilded Age of America through the eyes of a wallflower made Permilia a very relatable character. As it stands, her uncommon upbringing leads her to be a truly remarkable character — she is pretty, witty, highly intelligent, and very independent. She also doesn’t care what people think about her, including her step-mother!
I truly enjoyed this novel, and I am very excited for book #2 in the series, Out of the Ordinary, which is due to be released this November!!! If I had one recommendation to make, it would be to read the novella, At Your Request (2017), before you read Behind the Scenes. I normally find that it doesn’t matter when I get to a novella that’s part of a series, but in this case I wish I had read it first. This novella tells Wilhemina’s story, who does appear a bit in Behind the Scenes, but what I found to be important is the set up between Asher and Permilia. Something happens in this novella that gets referred to often in book 1. It would have been nice to have had that information prior to reading Behind the Scenes.