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Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin

Jen Turano is at it again. She’s turning 19th-century New York society on its ear in the first novel of the Apart From the Crowd series, Behind the Scenes.

I first met mining heiress Permilia Griswold in the prequel novella At Your Request. Even then, I knew she’d be trouble, using her role as a wallflower to gather fashion tidbits from her society peers, then secretly writing a column for the New York Sun called Miss Quill’s Quality Corner. Permilia being Miss Quill. Catchy, huh?

But when she overhears a plot to murder department store owner and fellow member of “society,” Asher Rutherford, she knows she must convince him of the fact. 

‘I do apologize, stepmother, but I fear I have no choice but to abandon my manners because this is a matter of life and death.’

Silence settle over the table until Asher cleared his throat.

‘Whose death?’

‘Yours.’

Though this story holds a mystery, it’s more a subplot. The whole first third of the novel takes place at a soirée given by Alva Vanderbilt to show off her new house. The book has some laugh-out-loud funny parts, and I enjoyed the interaction between the slightly insecure and unpredictable Permilia and the rather stuffy, predictable Asher. The poor man is never really sure which way is up with her, even when her actions make sense in the scheme of things.

There were numerous areas in the first half, though, that I felt contained too much narrative—mostly backstory—that slowed the action. The second half of the book moved the plot toward a satisfactory ending. It has some wonderfully quirky characters and a good solution to the mystery that I didn’t see coming. And frankly … I can’t wait to read the story of the long-suffering Gertrude.

Overall, it was an entertaining story with humor that makes it four-star worthy for me.

What is your favorite humorous novel, or who is your favorite author of humor?

 

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