I can’t recall the last time a series made me laugh quite this hard. I had to muffle my laughter for fear that those around me would pull out their phones and surreptitiously call the loony bin to come catch the escapee. What series was I reading, you ask?
Jen Turano‘s Ladies of Distinction, a delightful four-book series featuring several connected families in late-1800s New York. In these novels, you’ll meet a host of characters – the Becketts, the Watsons, the Sumners, the Murdocks, and the Wilders. The series features these families, with each book telling a story that builds the history and relationships of these families. Ladies of Distinction is like a family saga, except that it builds five families into one with each installment instead of just telling the stories of different family members.
A Change of Fortune introduces Eliza and Hamilton. Eliza is an aristocrat from England, in New York hunting the man who stole her family’s fortune. Hamilton is a single father of two ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE precocious children, Piper and Ben.
Hamilton and Eliza start to work together, and a romance begins. Some of my favorite elements of this novel are Piper and Ben, and the elder secondary characters like Gloria. The older adults gleefully act as matchmakers, plotting to get Hamilton and Eliza together. This novel is a hoot, and yet it doesn’t treat things like faith, relationships, or justice lightly. Somehow, Turano manages to weave a thoughtful and deep story together with humor and Gilded Age historical detail.
Then, it’s Hamilton’s sister Arabella’s turn in book 2, A Most Peculiar Circumstance. This feisty woman matches wits and determination with Theodore, a talented private investigator hired to keep her safe from unknown danger.
Once again, Turano offers a humorous romance that makes you fall in love with the protagonists and laugh as the elder generation lovingly schemes to encourage a budding romance between Arabella and Hamilton. I love books that also have strong storylines beyond just the romance, and Turano’s writing has this continuous thread of the older characters encouraging romance among the younger set and living stories of their own, too.
Like with Julie Lessman, the romance and the fun aren’t relegated solely to the young characters when Jen Turano holds the pen!
Eliza’s brother Grayson takes the stage next, with Felicia by his side, in A Talent for Trouble. Grayson’s past comes back to haunt him as Felicia reevaluates her dreams and rediscovers the adventurous nature she’s been stifling for years in her effort to be a proper and demure lady.
I love that Turano wrote Felicia’s story. I wondered about her in the first couple Ladies of Distinction books, where Felicia was a passing character at dinners or parties. I wanted to know who she was as a person, not just a society miss. Why create Felicia if she wasn’t an important character somewhere? And then I read A Talent for Trouble! 🙂
And I fell in love with Grayson, despite his tragic past and his mistakes, and with Felicia, who tried her best to become who others wanted her to be until she finally had to be true to herself.
Finally, it’s Agatha’s turn in A Match of Wits. Agatha, a journalist for a prominent New York newspaper, has been a strong secondary character in each of the first three novels. Her “will they-won’t they” relationship with Hamilton and Arabella’s brother Zayne is a series-long thread that kept me reading. And FINALLY it was time for their story.
When this novel begins, it’s been about two years since we last saw these families. Much has changed – Zayne has gone West, bought a gold mine, and become, well, a grump. Agatha is travelling out West researching new stories and avoiding the source of numerous threats back home. When she crosses paths with Zayne, she realizes he needs her help. Whether he admits it or not.
Thus begins their story, and subsequent developments lead them home to New York and an investigation into who wants Agatha silenced. Danger, romance, and humor abound. Definitely worth the wait!
I loved this series, and I hope you check it out. If you enjoy humor mixed with stories of faith and romance, I think you’ll love Jen Turano’s style.
Gentleman of Her Dreams, the novella that introduces the Ladies of Distinction series, is available for FREE on Amazon if you’d like to try a sample of Turano’s writing before starting this series. It’s a fun read, and the entire four-book series is full of laughs, romance, and faith-filled moments!
My rating: 5/5 stars
Recommended for: fans of Julie Lessman’s historical novels; fans of Gilded Age fiction; fans of historical inspirational fiction that’s full of humor, fun, romance, growing faith, and even some mystery!