Book Review: In Good Company by Jen Turano

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

After spending her childhood in an orphanage, Millie Longfellow is determined to become the best nanny the East Coast has ever seen. Unfortunately, her enthusiasm for her job tends to bring about situations that have employers looking askance at her methods. After her most recent dismissal, Millie is forced to return yet again to an employment agency.

Everett Mulberry has suddenly and quite unexpectedly found himself responsible for three children he barely knows. Attempting fatherhood while also pacifying the less-than-thrilled socialite he intends to marry is made even more complicated when the children scare off every nanny he hires. About to depart for Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer, he’s desperate for competent childcare.

At wit’s end with both Millie and Everett, the employment agency gives them one last chance—with each other. Everett is wary of Millie’s penchant for disaster, and she’s not entirely keen on another snobby, grumpy employer, but they’re both out of options. As Millie falls in love with her mischievous charges and tries to stay one step ahead of them, Everett is more focused on achieving the coveted status of society’s upper echelons. As he investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the children’s parents’ death, will it take the loss of those he loves to learn whose company he truly wants for the rest of his life?

REVIEW:

Jen Turano, comedic authoress extraordinaire, continues the A Class of their Own series with a second romantic comedy that will brighten your days and add a smile to your face. In Good Company is a delightful novel that I highly recommend for all readers of Christian fiction—regardless of preference towards historical or contemporary—because it simply shines with laughter, wit, romance, and faith. Before reading In Good Company I had read only one other of Turano’s books; upon putting down her second novel of 2015, I know now for certain that this author is one whose books will always be on my to-read list.

In Good Company is a blend of the Mary Poppins story with A Sound of Music: full of hilarious shenanigans between precocious children and their unconventional-but-loving nanny, Turano’s story takes readers on a romp through the glitz and glamour of Gilded Age New York and Rhode Island. The beauty of In Good Company, as with all of Turano’s books (gleaned from the one other I’ve read and from what I’ve learned from other readers and reviewers) comes from her ability to create unique situations and characters within realistic scenarios. Many novels, for example, claim a nanny as the heroine of the story. Not many novels, however, have the nanny walk around with a dictionary in her pocket so she may learn to use big words. In Good Company made me laugh aloud numerous times with the unpredictable yet believable circumstances Millie, Everett, and the children found themselves in. Despite the…unusual…aspects Turano used in her novel, each scenario was uniquely funny enough to have happened in real life.

I enjoyed In Good Company quite a lot and am now eager to read the first book in this series, After a Fashion. With hilarious romps that showcase Turano’s ability to write original characters and plots, In Good Company is a perfect blend of humor, faith, and depth. The third book in the series, Playing the Part, will be published in March 2016.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JenTuranoJen Turano is the critically acclaimed author of The Ladies of Distinction Series, published through Bethany House.  Her novel, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, was chosen by Booklist as a Top Ten Romance for 2013.When Jen’s not writing, she spends her time hiking around Colorado, socializing with friends and family, and taking great pride in watching Dominic, who will soon be off to college, turn into a remarkable young man.  (For readers of A Change of Fortune – Dominic was the inspiration behind little Ben – which is why you won’t be surprised to learn Jen’s been slightly taken aback over the fact Dominic’s turned out so well.)

Visit Jen at her website.

 

Book Review for Jen Turano’s A Match of Wits

A Match of Wits, courtesy of Bethany House Publishers.

A Match of Wits, author Jen Turano’s fourth novel in the Ladies of Distinction series, is a novel about God’s love and acceptance for His people. Through the main characters’ adventures and challenges in New York City and Colorado, Turano teaches readers that acceptance of ourselves and others is only possible once we understand that we are loved exactly as who are.

It is 1883, and investigative journalist Agatha Watson is traipsing around Colorado Springs for her next story for the New-York Tribune when she comes across her old friend, Zayne Beckett. These two friends parted two years previously in disgruntled company—neither of them is exactly thrilled to see each other in and unexpected setting. Agatha finds Zayne, who was supposed to be in California with his fiancé, broken and dispirited physically and mentally. True to her nature—and to Zayne’s annoyance—Agatha takes up the challenge to bring Zayne home to New York City and reunite him with his family.

Life continues hectically for Zayne and Agatha upon their return to New York City. Agatha, who returns to the city despite threats upon her life, takes it upon herself to help Zayne regain his sense-of-self; Zayne, while he is retained in bed recovering from injuries sustained while out West, believes it is his role to find Agatha a suitor capable of keeping her in line. Both characters relish the opportunities to irritate and annoy the other just for amusement. As attempts on Agatha’s life continue to grow, Zayne finds that he knows Agatha less than he realized. With Agatha becoming increasingly determined to find her assassin, Zayne must discover whether his battle to understand his feelings for her are out of a protective nature or whether the two of them are truly a match of wits.

A Match of Wits is an enjoyable story that brings numerous smiles and out-loud laughter throughout the novel. Turano’s dialog is witty, her characters unique in both originality and for the setting of the novel, and the spiritual lessons relevant but not overwhelming in the presentation. The lively banter between Zayne, Agatha, and the two minor characters, Drusilla—Agatha’s companion—and Mr. Blackheart—Agatha’s body guard—make this novel because of the humor and compassion the characters exemplify through conversation. The characterization Turano employs in A Match of Wits is enough to keep readers satisfied with its development but also surprised in the author’s creative manner of making those characters unique. All of the major characters retain vestiges of their roles: Zayne is the hero who keeps his feelings to himself; Agatha is the damsel looking for love. But, Turano continually discloses tidbits throughout her novel that change those roles her major characters play—changes that make her characters all the more loveable and keep the plot of her novel fresh. Readers spiritual or not will enjoy the spiritual aspect of A Match of Wits for its relevance to the story and real life. Turano keeps the spirituality light—it is not a main focus of the story but the characters refer to their faith enough to keep its discussion of consequence. Readers who look for the spiritual aspect will find the teachings significant while those who do not necessarily choose a book because of its Christian genre will not feel overwhelmed by preaching.

Turano’s novel is one that is light but holds deep lessons of acceptance and love. Readers will have to force themselves to read slowly because the novel is so enjoyable that it can easily be finished in one sitting. Nevertheless, there are points that could be refined to make A Match of Wits more substantial: in particular, the lengthy and wordy sentences distract from the content of the novel. Nineteenth-century language was more prosaic, but the dialog of A Match of Wits takes this distinction to unnecessary lengths. Some readers may also find the plot of the novel too far-fetched for any believability. The numerous scrapes that Agatha finds herself in makes even the most raucous behavior look tame. These aspects of A Match of Wits can be overlooked, however, for the pleasure of an entertaining novel with beautiful themes and witty dialog shared between likeable characters within a humorous plot.

Rating: 4 stars

Review originally posted for TheChristianManifesto.com