Sandra Ardoin @SandraArdoin
Out of the Ordinary is the second novel in the Apart from the Crowd series by Jen Turano. I looked forward to reading this story with its hint at a host of peculiar characters sure to provoke laugh-out-loud moments.
You see, it all boils down to the fact that the fashion-designer-wannabe Mrs. Davenport depends on her wallflower companion, Gertrude Cadwalader, to save her from her kleptomaniac self. Gertrude’s job is to prevent her employer’s tendency to relieve other wealthy individuals from their possessions or, failing that, return them without the person knowing they were stolen or by whom. Add in Gertrue’s friend Harrison Sinclair, a sought-after shipping magnet whose penchant is for outlandishly-colored clothing, and the potential for humorous mayhem ensues, making for a great story.
I normally enjoy Jen Turano’s stories and really wanted to like this one a lot after the hint of it in the prequel novella and first novel of the series. As usual, she placed her odd characters in equally odd situations. (I mean, really, half a birdcage as a bustle?) And those situations were entertaining.
However, the first setting (an engagement party) went on far too long for me. As in the previous book, the author spent at least the first third of the novel there. While that isn’t bad in and of itself, it became one incident after another that did little for moving the story along in an exciting and timely manner. There were too many instances where a situation or reactions were dragged out after the fact, much of it telling narrative not shown in real time. On the other hand, the second half moved much better. 🙂
I really liked Harrison and, for the most part, I liked Gertrude. I thought I would like Mrs. Davenport much more than I did. Previously, I’d seen her as a loveable eccentric. Though she has a compelling backstory, overall, it didn’t change the moments I found her selfish and unpleasant.
I’ve read fiction long enough to know that no matter how much I like an author, on occasion there will be individual books I’m not as crazy about. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop reading that person’s work. So, because of the second half, along with the humorous moments and one laugh-out-loud situation, my stars on Amazon will show four (barely).