The second novel in her Ladies of Distinction series, Jen Turano's A Most Peculiar Circumstance is every bit as funny and delightful as her first. Her characters are smart and funny, but able to grow out of the mold they start in.
Turano does a good job making the characters grow and change without losing their spark or compromising the values that make them who they are. Inherently, Theodore desires to protect women. When he is introduced to us, it manifests as 100% chauvinism, but as he recognizes the women in his life as more than just a tool for man's comfort, his chauvinism matures into chivalry; he still believes that women should be protected, but he learns see their worth as people too. Arabella has a calling for fighting for women's rights, but she ends up facing the fact that she has neglected to think and act with compassion for the hearts of the people she is trying to improve. With that revelation, she is able to move forward in a significantly more God-honoring way.
The best thing about the novel is the characters (and given that is very much a character- and dialogue-driven book, that is probably a good thing). While Theodore was, admittedly, a jerk to Arabella in the beginning, I couldn't dislike him, since his notions of proper womanly behavior made me laugh. Even more so though, it makes my heart glad that no matter his personal feelings for the female involved, he does everything in his power to defend her anyway, in spite of his chauvinistic attitude, and in spite of her apparent disrespect of him. While I firmly believe that women can be more than capable of defending themselves, there is something about a man rushing to a woman's protection that makes me feel safe and cherished. The world needs more men like that! (Though ideally without the women-are-decoration-only attitude).
Arabella is neither a stereotypical suffragette, nor is she a
stereotypical blonde. Yes, she does fight for women's rights, but she
also is soft-hearted, feminine, and a romantic, without lacking in brains. Some of her schemes might be rather foolish - especially
the circumstances that land her in jail the second time - but even then
she has the sense to not completely disregard her safety or that of the women she is
attempting to help. Overall, I found her spunky and sweet, without being abrasive.
Like her other novel, Turano made this one a clean, safe read, ripe with romantic tension without the intimate touching, kissing, etcetera that is often found in romantic comedies. A highly enjoyable read! 5 stars
Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for providing a free copy of this book for the purpose of review; I was not obligated to make it positive.
I highly recommend reading the entire Ladies of Distinction series for some amusing, heart-warming reads:
1. A Change of Fortune
2. A Most Peculiar Circumstance
3. A Talent for Trouble
4. A Match of Wits