Flights of Fancy by Jen Turano – Book Review, Preview

Posted January 10, 2019 by Phyllis Helton in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Giveaways, Guest Post /

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Flights of Fancy by Jen Turano - Book Review, Preview

Someone forwarded a video to me of Christmas caroling. It started out with a girl playing the violin and then a few more people joined her with other instruments and then singers joined in. It was lovely and the camera captured the delighted expressions on the faces of those who were being sung to.

As I watched, at first I was caught up in the fun of the way it was done and the beauty of the music. Then I started to notice the beautiful circular driveway in the very fancy house as the musicians and singers were gathered there and had a random thought.

Have you ever seen a video of people gathered to carol in a poor area of town?

I’m sure people do sing there but do these groups of very talented musicians go there? Or do they simply perform for those who live in lovely houses in wonderful neighborhoods?

James, in his letter to the church, talks about showing favoritism.

My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?

For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?

Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.

James 2:1-9

I’m not saying it is wrong to do nice things for those who are well off – but I am going to look at my heart to make sure that when I think about blessing others, that I don’t forget those who perhaps need that blessing the most.

Flights of Fancy by Jen Turano – Book Review, Preview

Flights of Fancy

by Jen Turano

Series: American Heiresses #1
Series Rating:
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Publication Date January 1, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: Pennsylvania Gilded Age – US – 1875 – 1900
Main Character Ages: 18-24, 25-34
Written for: Adults
Pages: 371


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.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.

Also in this series: Diamond in the Rough, Storing Up Trouble

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Having come from a childhood of poverty, abuse, and neglect, Ian was determined to make something of himself. To become so well off and have security. He is well on the way as a respected, and even feared, attorney to the industrialists. Next, he feels that he just needs to marry a society woman to accomplish all that he set out to.

Isadora’s mother, Hester, had her heart set on Isadora marrying well. So when a duke showed interest in her, Hester was ecstatic and would brook no argument against the match. So Izzy did what any smart young society woman would do (not!) and ran away to (as she and her friend called it) the wilds of Pennsylvania.

Combining the ridiculous with the very real and serious plight of the steelworkers in the Gilded Age, Flights of Fancy explored the world of orphans and attorneys. Heiresses and hired hands. Selfishness and a servant’s heart.

The author clearly showed the issues that made the unions necessary at that time – the deplorable working conditions and attitudes of the owners towards their workers.

The image of Pittsburg’s smog being so thick it affected the visibility in an extreme way was fascinating – having grown up in Southern California at the time when smog alerts were not entirely uncommon, I still never experienced smog as terrible as that.

Flights of Fancy begins with a theme from The Taming of the Shrew, and while this was by no means a retelling of that story, the message of a selfish heart needing transformation was woven cleverly throughout the narrative. Thankfully, both Ian and Isadora, when confronted with their attitudes, were quick to seek to change.

It was fun picturing a society lady trying to make herself useful as a housekeeper, knowing she had no practical skills. The situations Izzy got herself into were comical as were the incidents with the orphans, the chickens (especially Elmer), and Buttercup the cow who thought herself to be a house guest.

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

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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!!

1st – 5th place: A copy of Flights of Fancy

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

About Jen Turano

Jen Turano, the USA Today bestselling author of ten books and two novellas, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado.

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12 responses to “Flights of Fancy by Jen Turano – Book Review, Preview

  1. terirose22

    I’m so excited for this series! Thanks so much for having Jen as a guest!

  2. Kathleen Clark

    I can’t wait to start the new series. I love the way Jen writes and her wonderful characters, even if they are a bit “pesky” at times!

  3. Kay Garrett

    Thank you for being part of the Celebrate Lit book tour for “Flights of Fancy” by Jen Turano.

    Sounds like a fabulous book and one that I would love the opportunity to read. I have now placed it on my TBR list.

    Such a lovely cover!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  4. Carol Alscheff

    I haven’t read any of these books yet. Thank you for the chane to win them!

  5. realworldbiblestudy

    Confession time. I’m really curious about what happens with chickens. I keep hearing (reading) them mentioned. And this one is going on the “to read” list…

  6. lelandandbecky

    This is such a fun interview! I love the genealogy discovery while Jen was researching for her book! I love that she vaguely describes her characters, so the we, as readers, can imagine them exactly the way we’d like them to be. At the top of this post you talked about caroling. We always go to the sick and the elderly.

  7. Vivian Furbay

    Jen is a great writer. i have really enjoyed reading some of her books. I am sure this will be a good book also.

  8. Perrianne Askew

    This sounds like a very fun read and I’m sure Isadora will get into quite a few tight spots on a farm. I like that your research dug up a few nuggets on your family.

  9. This series sounds so entertaining and adorable! I love that this story is set in historical Pittsburgh. It’ll be fun to see my native city in a historical light in one of my favorite genres.