After Miss Wilhelmina Radcliff’s father lost the family fortune in a poor investment decision, she finds herself banished from the fashionable set within New York society and directly into the wallflower section. Taking on work as a social secretary in order to help with family expenses, she spends her time penning out invitations to all the most sought-after events, wondering if her life will ever improve.
While languishing one evening at a ball given by one of the esteemed New York patriarchs, Wilhelmina is appalled to discover that Mr. Edgar Wanamaker, her oldest and dearest friend, and the first gentleman to offer her a marriage proposal, has shown up at the ball unexpectedly, having been absent from New York ever since she rejected his offer years before.
Jen Turano’s books is usually always an automatic read for me since I love how she always manages to pack gut busting humor into her books. She is one of the few authors that can actually create scenes and dialogs that makes you giggle like a school girl – which she never fails to do that with me. All her book plots are different, but somehow she keeps managing to create new interesting witty scenes and dialogs for us readers, which I say keep them coming because I truly enjoy it.
Her smoothing came to an abrupt end, however, when the lady sitting two chairs down from her suddenly leaned forward, peered at something in the distance, and then bent her head and began scribbling madly on her dance card.
Without allowing herself a moment to contemplate the matter further, she surged into motion, scooting around the first row of chairs and plopping to the floor directly behind Miss Griswold and right in between two young ladies, neither of whom Wilhelmina had ever been introduced to. “Pretend I’m not here,” she whispered to a young lady sporting a most unfortunate hairstyle, who looked down at her as if she’d lost her mind. The young lady blinked right before she smiled. “That might be a little difficult, Miss Radcliff, especially since you’re sitting on my feet.” “Goodness, am I really?” Wilhelmina asked, scooting off the feet in question even as she pushed aside a bit of ivory chiffon that made up the young lady’s skirt. “Shall we assume you’re hiding from someone?” the young lady pressed. “Indeed, but . . . don’t look over at the refreshment table. That might draw unwanted notice.” Unfortunately, that warning immediately had the young lady craning her neck, while the other young lady sat forward, peering over Miss Griswold’s shoulder in an apparent effort to get a better view of the refreshment table. “Who are you hiding from?” Miss Griswold asked out of the corner of her mouth, having the good sense to keep her attention front and center. “Mr. Edgar Wanamaker, the gentleman you were inquiring about,” Wilhelmina admitted. “Mr. Wanamaker’s here?” the young lady with the unfortunate hairstyle repeated as she actually stood up and edged around Wilhelmina, stepping on Wilhelmina’s hand in the process. “Is he the gentleman with the dark hair and . . . goodness . . . very broad shoulders . . . and the one now looking our way? Why, I heard earlier this evening that he’s returned to town with a fortune at his disposal—a fortune that, rumor has it, is certain to turn from respectable to impressive in the not too distant future.” “You don’t say,” Wilhelmina muttered as she tried to tug her hand out from underneath the lady’s shoe. “Miss Cadwalader, you’re grinding poor Miss Radcliff’s hand into the floor.” Looking up, Wilhelmina stopped her tugging as she met the gaze of the other young lady sitting in the second row of the wallflower section, a lady who was looking somewhat appalled by the fact she’d apparently spoken those words out loud. Without saying another word, the lady rose to her feet, shook out the folds of a gown that was several seasons out of date, whispered something regarding not wanting to be involved in any shenanigans, and then dashed straightaway. “I wasn’t aware Miss Flowerdew was even capable of speech,” the lady still standing on Wilhelmina’s hand said before she suddenly seemed to realize that she was, indeed, grinding Wilhelmina’s hand into the ground. Jumping to the left, she sent Wilhelmina a bit of a strained smile. “Do forgive me, Miss Radcliff. I fear with all the intrigue occurring at the moment, paired with hearing Miss Flowerdew string an entire sentence together, well, I evidently quite lost my head and simply didn’t notice I was standing on you.” She thrust a hand Wilhelmina’s way. “I’m Miss Gertrude Cadwalader, paid companion to Mrs. Davenport. Please do accept my apologies for practically maiming you this evening, although rest assured, it is an unusual event for me to maim a person on a frequent basis.” Taking the offered hand in hers—although she did so rather gingerly since her hand had almost been maimed by Miss Cadwalader—Wilhelmina gave it a shake, a circumstance she still found a little peculiar, but resisted when Miss Cadwalader began trying to tug her to her feet. “How fortunate for Mrs. Davenport that you don’t participate in maiming often,” she began. “But if you don’t mind, I prefer staying down here for the foreseeable future, since I have no desire for Mr. Wanamaker to take notice of me this evening.”
Being that this is a novella, it introduces us to her new series – Apart from the Crowd, which it takes place in New York city 1883 among the social society swirls of the season. In this book, we meet Wilhelmina, the heroine who has been relegated to a wallflower due to her father losing his fortune. As we are first introduced to Wilhelmina pondering on the sidelines as all wallflowers due, she sees her old childhood friend Edger Wanamaker, whom she hasn’t seen in about 7 years – last since she turned down his marriage proposal. Hilariously, she tries to hide under a chair to avoid talking to him, but her plans go wrong and the inevitable happens – Edger approaches her, wanting to have a talk. Even though she spurned him 7 years ago, Edgar still harbors feelings for Wilhelmina and hopes that by returning the the city as a older, more mature, and lucrative man, that she will finally accept his proposal.
“I’m fairly certain I’ve been defined by society as nothing more than a wallflower these days.” Drawing her closer, he tipped her chin up and met her gaze. “You may be known as a wallflower to society, Wilhelmina, but I’ll always think of you as the most extraordinary woman I’ve ever known.” With that, and before she could do more than let out the tiniest of sighs, he leaned closer to her, his breath warm against her face right before he claimed her lips with his own.
“Mr. Wanamaker has proclaimed more than once that he finds you to be quite remarkable. Because of that, I do believe he was rather determined to do whatever it took to make matters right for your family.” He sent her a wink. “Make certain to remember that when he goes about the business of extending to you a proper proposal. Although . . . I wasn’t supposed to say anything about that.” Sending her another wink, Mr. Sinclair set off across the lake, vanishing into the crowd a second later. Turning back to Edgar, Wilhelmina arched a brow. “Did I hear correctly about something regarding a proper proposal?” Edgar smiled a little sheepishly. “This wasn’t exactly how I pictured it, me sitting on a frozen lake of incredibly cold ice with seemingly half of New York society skating around us.” Disappointment was swift and evidently showed on her face, because the next thing she knew, Edgar was leaning closer to her, his eyes suddenly holding that certain something she’d seen the night before at the ball, something that had her toes curling. “Would it be completely untoward of me to voice a proposal this very minute?” he asked. “Are you going to do so simply because a marriage between us is now expected, given that Mrs. Travers discovered us alone together?” Wilhelmina asked in voice that had turned slightly breathless. “Absolutely not.” “Then why are you so determined to marry me?” She couldn’t resist asking, even though she was beginning to come to her own conclusion regarding that, a conclusion that left her feeling distinctly light-headed. “I believe it might have something to do with the fact I love you, and . . . something to do with the fact that I know you’re the only woman I’ve ever loved, and will ever love, so . . .” Edgar paused and sent her a small smile. “Please put me out of my misery and finally agree to become my wife.” For a second, as her breath got caught in her throat, she could only stare at the gentleman who’d always been her very dearest friend, and evidently wanted to become an even dearer friend—albeit one known as her husband—for the rest of her days. Leaning in toward him, she smiled. “You do realize that I would have agreed to marry you even if you hadn’t solved the mystery of the missing fleet, don’t you?” He traced a lazy finger down her cheek as his smile turned into a grin. “I would have investigated the matter even if I thought you wouldn’t accept my proposal, but . . .” He suddenly stopped smiling. “Wait a minute. Did you just agree to marry me?” “I did, although . . . I do have some . . . conditions.” “You have . . . conditions?” She couldn’t help but grin at the incredulous look crossing his face. “They’re not difficult conditions, Edgar, and in all honesty, there’s only one.” “And . . . ?” “I think we should enjoy a long engagement, especially because it’s been seven years since you’ve been in my company for any significant amount of time. It could turn out that you don’t care for me as much as you think you do, and . . . while I don’t care to dwell on how miserable that would make me, it still needs to be a consideration.” “I distinctly remember professing my love for you just a few short minutes ago,” Edgar said slowly. “And while I distinctly remember you professing your love for me, something I assure you I’ll never forget, it wouldn’t hurt to enjoy a long engagement. Although . . .” Her eyes widened. “Good heavens, Edgar, I do beg your pardon. I’ve just now recalled that I have yet to profess my feelings for you, although I would imagine you’ve already figured out that I love you as well.” “You . . . love me?” Edgar asked. Wilhelmina smiled. “I readily admit that I do, although it certainly took me long enough to realize that what I’ve always felt for you is love of the deepest sort.” “At least you finally did.” “Indeed.”
Aside from meeting Wilhelmina and Edger, we are also introduce to Premilia – she will be the next heroine in Behind the Scenes – , Asher Ruthford – he will be the hero of the next book, Gertrude Cadwalader, and Miss Flowerdew. I for one can’t wait to see how Premilia and Asher’s story will pan out as she was pretty entertaining in this book plus her and Asher’s dialogs had a bit of ‘snark to it’ as in if they irritated each other. I don’t know about you, but I sorta like it when the hero and heroine starts out not standing each other but as the story progress, their feelings change. So I will definitely be looking forward to reading Behind the Scenes when it releases to see how the other girls fair and to see what mischief that Jen will create for them.