Flights of Fancy: historical fiction review

Flights of Fancy is the first installment in the “America Heiress” series by Jen Turano and I can confidently say Turano set us up for a wonderful series. Not only did she write a delightful Historical Fiction novel set just after the Industrial revolution, but she was true to what we know and love of her writing. For those of you who are new to Turano as an author you can expect quick witted stories that have fun twists and turns. I find myself chuckling under my breath frequently and laughing out loud often. When I am reading around family or friends they often will ask me about the book because of my frequent laughter or chuckling.

In this story the beloved main character “Izzie” not only experiences so much self-realization, something we all need more of; but also the adventure of a lifetime as she pursues accomplishing hard things. She is forced to leave her predictable and comfortable life when seeking protection from a  life-threatening situation. I love that during her journey she finds a bit of romance, adventure and a whole lot of life change.

I also thoroughly appreciate that Turano tackles challenging topics like class structure, unfair labor practices and true empathy that we all need for the people around us. It struck me as I read that characters in all parts of the story, whether main or supporting, all had preconceived notions and “stigmas” that they projected onto others, but as they got to know one another those ideas and views changed. In a time where many people only consider themselves or their own “progress” and “achievements” or allow misconceptions or prejudice to effect our views a character like Ian MacKenzie steps in and challenges us to go beyond that experience. The evolution of Ian MacKenzie is refreshing and eye opening. Not only did he climb the social ladder himself and gain respect for his accomplishments from those in higher standing, but he finds himself fighting for those who are less fortunate. As he explores his own life’s path and what God may have for him, we are brought along on a journey of self-discovery and genuine change.

Isaiah 1:17 came to mind as I was reading this story, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” Watching the characters evolve and grow in empathy was inspiring and an excellent reminder that we all have opportunities in our own lives, our own neighborhoods, and in our own little worlds to “do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice and plead the case” of those less fortunate. Using our own good fortune to help those around us is a integral part of our faith and our calling as we use our gifts and grow our abilities. And as Ian MacKenzie learns life is about a whole lot more than prestige, financial standing, and what the world sees as “success.”

Watching Izzie unearth giftings she didn’t know she had, face who she really was, and to be determined enough to grow her abilities and experience life beyond what was comfortable and familiar, was such a beautiful picture of what life can be if we set our minds to it. Additionally seeing Ian recognize that the path he had set for himself was his own and not necessarily the one God had set before him really encouraged me in my evaluation of priorities and goals.

When you can be so personally challenged by a book you so thoroughly enjoyed I would say that the story itself is a wild success. Turano has complex characters, and even with a typical Historical Romance style she brings her own flare, her own twists, and a whole lot of humor. I find myself laughing at the everyday occurrences in the story that are absolutely so plausible, they happened in my life daily even as I was reading the book, and thus taking on a bit more humor in the coming and goings of my every day life.

Thanks to Turano for tackling challenging topics, bringing to life fun and amusing characters all while causing me to think about my own life and how I can pursue God’s plan for my days. Grateful to have requested the book from Celebrate Lit Bloggers so I could share my thoughts with all of you. All I shared here are my own opinions and I hope you’ll check out the book  yourself along with the other reviews on the tour with Celebrate Lit. Don’t miss the giveaway at the bottom of this post!

About the Book

Title: Flights of Fancy

Author: Jen Turano

Genre: Christian Historical Romance, Gilded Age

Release date: January 1, 2019

Publisher: Bethany House

Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry an elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high society world she’s always known and finds herself to be an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania.

Mr. Ian MacKenzie is known for his savvy business sense and has built his reputation and fortune completely on his own merits. But when his adopted parents are in need of a new housekeeper and Isadora is thrown into his path, he’s unexpectedly charmed by her unconventional manner.

Neither Isadora nor Ian expected to find the other so intriguing, but when mysterious incidents on the farm and the truth of Isadora’s secret threaten those they love, they’ll have to set aside everything they thought they wanted for a chance at happy-ever-after.

Click here to order your copy!

About the Author

One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO.

Guest post from Jen

Q & A With Jen Turano

“Flights of Fancy” is the first book in the American Heiress Series. What inspired you to write this series?

The inspiration for this entire series started off with a What If? All of my proposals for new series start off that way, and this time it was – What if Consuelo Vanderbilt had balked when her mother insisted she marry the Duke of Marlborough – and then that led to – What if she’d run away until her mother came to her senses? Just like that, an entire series was born – a bit of a different take on American heiresses because in all three books, my heiresses might decide to go a tad…rogue. We start off with Miss Isadora Delafield – who does run off to avoid marriage to a duke, then we get to meet Miss Poppy Garrison, who is an unexpected heiress but who can’t quite seem to get a handle on the expected social decorum of the day, and then the final book revolves around Miss Beatrix Waterbury – who gets banished to Chicago after she annoys her mother one too many times, and once there, well, gets up to a bit of mischief.

How do you come up with the names of your characters?

I find most of my names as I research the New York Four-Hundred, although I normally take a first name here, a last name there so I’m not stepping on any toes by writing about an actual historical figure – except for some of the main figures in New York society back then, such as Mr. Ward McAllister – who was the social arbiter of the day, or Mrs. William Astor, who was the queen of that society. What I don’t do is simply make up names, no matter how outrageous they may appear. And, no matter how I may love a certain name, if the character decides it doesn’t suit them, that’s it, it’s out and I’m back to the drawing board.

How do you picture your character? Do you use Pinterest, magazines, movies?

Odd as this may seem, I don’t use pictures for my characters. They start off in my mind as a blurry figure, and then, they develop from there – I like to keep my descriptions of them somewhat vague on the pages so that the reader can imagine them exactly the way they’d like them to be.

What are some of your favorite resources for historical research?

I’ve been building up a research library over the past few years and now have over 200 books dedicated to the Gilded Age. My favorites are – “A Season of Splendor” by Greg King, “Society as I Have Found It” by Ward McAllister, “The Gilded Age in New York – 1870-1910” by Esther Crain, and “ ‘King Lehr’ and the Gilded Age” by Elizabeth Drexel Lehr.

The setting for “Flights of Fancy” is a bit of a departure for you since it’s set in and outside of Pittsburgh. Any reason for that?

My mom was born in Pittsburgh, and unfortunately, her father, a prominent attorney back in the day, died when she was only four. I thought it would be cool to set a story in Pittsburgh, which would then allow me to really dive into some research. And get this – while I was doing that research, I found this obscure journal called “Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. In that journal was a bit about my great-grandfather, Fred, his wife, Susie, my grandfather, and his brother and sister, but I’d never heard about this brother, who apparently died quite young. One of the most fabulous research tidbits I’ve uncovered to date.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just recently turned in the content edits for the second book in this series, “Diamond in the Rough,” and I’ve also turned in a novella about the Harvey Girls that will be coming out in a novella collection in Fall, 2019. With those out of the way, I’m now starting the third and final book in the American Heiress series, Miss Beatrix Waterbury’s story, but I’m having a bit of a struggle with the hero at the moment – he was supposed to be Edward, but he doesn’t want to be an Edward – I think he wants to be Norman – but, time will tell on that one – don’t hold me to the name – it’ll depend on if he changes his mind or not – pesky characters.

You seem to enjoy adding animals in many of your stories. Will we find any animals in “Flights of Fancy?”

Since Miss Isadora Delafield ends up on a farm, I do believe you will find a few animals, such as an adorable cow by the name of Buttercup, a few goats that seem to have a great liking for laundry, and…there might be some chickens.

Thanks for stopping by today, everyone! Always enjoy visiting with all of you – in fact, that’s the best part of my job!

All the best,
~ Jen ~

 

Blog Stops

The Avid Reader, January 10

Among the Reads, January 10

Through the Fire, January 10

To Everything A Season, January 10

Reflections From My Bookshelves, January 11

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 11

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Back Porch Reads, January 12

KarenSueHadley, January 12

Godly Book Reviews, January 12

Daysong Refections, January 12

Livin Lit, January 13

The Christian Fiction Girl, January 13

The Becca Files, January 13

Texas Book-aholic, January 13

Rebekah’s Quill, January 14

Blossoms and Blessings, January 14

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, January 14

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 14

All-of-a-kind Mom, January 15

Just the Write Escape, January 15

Stories By Gina, January 15

God’s Little Bookworm, January 16

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, January 16

Splashes of Joy, January 16

Janices book reviews, January 16

Happily Managing A Household of Boys, January 17

Mary Hake, January 17

Maureen’s Musings, January 17

Bibliophile Reviews, January 17

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, January 18

Baker Kella, January 18

Simple Harvest Reads, January 18 (Guest  post from Mindy Houng)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 19

Captive Dreams Window, January 19

Robin is Bookish, January 19

Carpe Diem, January 19

Have A Wonderful Day, January 20

Life with the Tribe, January 20

Inklings and Notions, January 20

Rachel’s Back Talk, January 21

Inspiration Clothesline, January 21

amandainpa, January 21

A Baker’s Perspective, January 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 22

Pause for Tales, January 22

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, January 22

Raining Butterfly Kisses, January 23

Live Love Read, January 23

A Rup Life, January 23

Bigreadersite, January 23

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away a grand prize of a trunk filled with all of Jen’s full-length novels released to date!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d8d1/flights-of-fancy-celebration-tour-giveaway

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