After a Fashion
1880s hat shop worker Harriet Peabody botches a delivery and offends a society lady, but is rescued by businessman Oliver Addleshaw. He offers to pay Harriet to pose as his fiancée during the social events of his business dealings with the Duke of Westmoore. Harriet reluctantly agrees, but they clash over Oliver’s attitude towards the downtrodden, such as Harriet’s ladies-of-the-evening neighbors, and the victims of a disaster at one of Oliver’s mines. Then Oliver holds a ball for the Duke and his family, where Harriet’s con artist Aunt Jane turns up and threatens to ruin Harriet’s path to happiness.
Turano injects humor into this Christian novel, and creates some whimsical characters, most notably the galumphing dog Buford. But her revelation of supposedly orphaned Harriet’s true identity is where the author lost me. It was just too unbelievable. Oliver offers to set Harriet up in a shop where she would refashion used gowns into clothing for working-class women. I was interested in seeing that idea developed, but nothing happens: they only talk about doing it, no action. The book started out promisingly, but Turano lost me partway through.