(Bethany House Publishers)
March 2015/352 pages/$14.99
Miss Harriet Peabody dreams of the day she can open up a shop selling refashioned gowns to independent working women like herself. Unfortunately, when an errand for her millinery shop job goes sadly awry due to a difficult customer, she finds herself out of an income.
Mr. Oliver Addleshaw is on the verge of his biggest business deal yet when he learns his potential partner prefers to deal with men who are settled down and wed. When Oliver witnesses his ex not-quite-fiancee cause the hapless Harriet to lose her job, he tries to make it up to her by enlisting her help in making a good impression on his business partner.
Harriet quickly finds her love of fashion can't make her fashionable. She'll never truly fit into Oliver's world, but just as she's ready to call off the fake relationship, fancy dinners, and elegant balls, a threat from her past forces both Oliver and Harriet to discover that love can come in the most surprising packages.
Read an excerpt.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jen Turano quickly became one of my must-read authors with her debut novel, A Change of Fortune, and she continues to delight with After a Fashion, her fifth release in just over two years. Charming is an understatement to describe her writing style. Not only does she create engaging characters and a thoroughly enchanting tale, but her clever articulation and depiction set her books apart from others in her genre. No word is wasted as the reader is transported into the pages and experiences every moment right along with the characters. And there are plenty of moments to experience in this fun variation on the theme of mismatched societal classes! (Even some of the disastrous moments made me laugh. And that dinner scene in Delmonico's...!) Turano adds several twists and turns to the plot, adding depth and intrigue, and the ending caught me completely off guard--in a happy, sigh-producing way! I'm thrilled to know that this is the first of a series and that subsequent stories will focus on Harriet's friends and roommates, Millie and Lucetta. Grab this enjoyable novel and get the rest of her books while you're at it. After a Fashion--a refreshing addition to your spring reading list!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Jen Turano and Bethany House Publishers as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Q & A with JEN TURANO
1. This book seems to be a little different from the books in your first series in that the heroine is not from society, but working class. Was there a reason for creating such a different type of heroine?
In order to keep my writing fresh, I decided to change things up a bit. Having Miss Harriet Peabody, a hat maker who does not mingle within society, develop an unusual alliance with Mr. Oliver Addleshaw, a well-respected member of society, allowed me to create a story that had two completely different people coming together. Sparks immediately began to fly from the moment they arrived on the same page together, and that type of tension is remarkably enjoyable to write.
2. The book is titled After a Fashion. Where there any specific fashions of this particular time that you’d care to mention?
Well, obviously hats were quite important during the Gilded Age. Quite frankly, I was appalled to learn that entire species of birds were decimated because ladies of that time demanded their hats be adorned with numerous exotic feathers. But more interesting to me were the bustles. Since I majored in Clothing and Textiles, I’ve had some experience with bustles, none of that experience being exactly pleasant. I had to create my own bustle in a historical clothing class, and honestly, not only are bustles somewhat difficult to make, the ones fashioned out of horsehair are incredibly itchy, even while wearing petticoats. As the 1880s progressed, the bustles kept getting larger and larger, finally making it next to impossible for the ladies to sit down. Thankfully, bustles weren’t a trend that lasted forever, but I’m certainly glad I’m not expected to attach something like that to my backside and walk around.
3. Arnold Constable & Company plays a part in this story. Was there a reason you chose that particular department store?
Arnold Constable & Company was known for its high-end goods, and many of the socially elite shopped there, especially since it was located on what was known as the “Ladies’ Mile.” This stretch of shops, including Tiffany’s, Macy’s, and B. Altman to name a few, got its start when A.T. Steward moved his department store into a white palatial building on 9th Street clear back in 1862. To this day, parts of the “Ladies’ Mile” can still be seen, although it’s sad that there are no longer any private carriages lining the streets as well-dressed ladies in walking gowns stroll through the shops, spending their wealthy husbands’ money. As an aside, it does need to be noted that the ladies of high society bought most of their wardrobes from Worth in Paris, traveling there at least once a year to place their orders.
4. Did you have a favorite scene in After a Fashion?
I would have to say my favorite is the dining scene, set in Delmonico’s. Poor Miss Harriet Peabody has to sit down to a formal dinner, one where numerous courses will be served, hoping desperately that no more than eight courses show up in front of her since that’s about her limit in regard to what silverware to use. Delmonico’s was a real restaurant in New York City that the elite did patronize, although they mostly went there for the Patriarch Balls hosted by Mrs. Astor (as in Caroline Astor) rather than to sit down to dine. Another interesting tidbit I learned while researching that particular restaurant was that if a society lady did go to dine at Delmonico’s, she would not wear a gown that showed her shoulders or too much cleavage—that would have caused a scandal, although it was perfectly acceptable for her to show a great deal of skin if she went to a dinner party at a private house.
5. Miss Harriet Peabody has two delightful friends in After a Fashion—Miss Millie Longfellow and Miss Lucetta Plum. Will readers see these characters again?
Since I love writing series, of course readers will see Miss Longfellow and Miss Plum again. I really enjoyed developing their close friendship in After a Fashion, and while doing that developing, Millie’s story, along with Lucetta’s, began to come together. Millie is a nanny with the unfortunate propensity of getting dismissed from her positions on an all-too-frequent basis, while Lucetta is an actress with a rather mysterious past. To help these young ladies find their way, so to speak, we have the ever-resourceful Reverend Thomas Gilmore, and . . . the charming Mrs. Hart, an elderly lady with matchmaking on her mind. Time will tell if Mrs. Hart gets her dearest wish and sees her three young friends well settled.
Many thanks to Jen Turano and Bethany House Publishers for providing this peek behind the writing of this delightful novel!
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