Jen Turano was named one of the funniest voices in inspirational romance by Booklist. She is a USA Today bestselling author known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publishers Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from RT Book Reviews, 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.
In this interview, Jen shares some thoughts regarding book two of her Matchmakers Series, with the release of To Spark a Match.
FF: Can you please tell us a little bit about your new novel, To Spark a Match?
To Spark a Match is Adelaide Duveen and Gideon Abbott’s story, two characters I introduced in A Match in the Making. Adelaide is a lady prone to the most unusual mishaps, and when she experiences a rather mortifying one of those, she retreats to a library during a dinner party, where she runs across Gideon, who seems to have found himself in a bit of a pickle. When she offers to assist him with the mess he’s landed in, her assistance goes horribly wrong, and society decides they’ve had quite enough of her shenanigans and it’s time to kick her out of the Four Hundred. That’s when Gideon steps in because it’s his fault Adelaide is facing social ostracization, and that’s when both of their lives take a dramatic turn—filled with danger, attempts to turn Adelaide fashionable, and an attraction they can’t seem to ignore.
FF: This novel takes place in Gilded Age New York City. What else can you tell us about the historical context and time period that influenced the creation of this novel?
I set all of my historical novels in the Gilded Age, and all of them are connected in some manner with the upper crust of New York City, commonly referred to as the New York Four Hundred. It’s a fascinating era with scandals occurring on an hourly basis, but it was also a time that really shaped our country as we know it today, which is why I adore writing Gilded tales.
FF: What do you love most about writing stories set in the Gilded Age?
I find the social dynamics of that time incredibly interesting. You had the Knickerbockers of New York, or rather old money, trying to retain their upper crust status, while the nouveaux riches, those who were just beginning to make almost obscene fortunes, were determined to get accepted into high society. It made for some very interesting stories and has given me enough fodder to continue writing in the Gilded Age for years.
FF: Your male protagonist, Gideon, is a former intelligence agent. Why did you pick this occupation for his character?
I ran across some research about the Naval Academy forming the first official intelligence agency, and I just thought, hmmm, now that might be interesting to add into a story at some point, and then Gideon showed up in my mind and he just took it from there.
FF: Were there actually matchmaking companies and matchmakers like Mrs. Parker in the Gilded Age?
There were matchmakers, but it truly was a very hush-hush situation. However, during this time, there were many families who were looking to increase their social status by marrying off their daughters to British aristocrats, and they often sought out the services of Minnie Paget. Minnie was an American heiress, although not a grand heiress, and had married Sir Arthur Paget. She resided in England and was responsible for assisting with numerous matches between heiresses and aristocrats, but there’s actually no record of what type of compensation she received for her efforts.
FF: What is the most interesting thing you discovered while researching for this book or the series as a whole?
I was researching children’s games played during this era and discovered the delightful game of Annie Over. It was sort of like our modern dodgeball, but not quite as vicious.
FF: What other themes present themselves throughout the novel?
It’s most a story about being comfortable embracing your originality and not conforming to the image other people have in mind for you.
FF: What will fans of romance love about the relationship between Adelaide and Gideon?
Well, Gideon is a spy, so…I think that about covers everything.
FF: What do you enjoy about writing historical romantic comedies? Is there anything you find challenging about this genre?
I’ve always been a historical romance reader, so it’s just a natural fit for me, and the humor is simply how I think. The most challenging aspect is the research because I’m a history nerd, so if I need to know a specific street name, four hours can slip by because I’ll find the street, but then I’ll find shops on that street, and then it’s just one rabbit trail after another.
FF: Can you share a little about what readers have to look forward to in the next book of the series?
The third and final book, tentatively titled To Meet her Match, is Camilla Pierpont’s story. She’s been a matchmaker for almost eight years, and the interesting thing about Camilla is she’s a leader of society and…unmarried. That’s right. She suffered from a broken heart during her debut so has vowed to never marry, even though she enjoys creating love matches for the few lucky ladies she sponsors during any given Season. That vow might become broken, though, when she meets Mr. Owen Chesterfield, who isn’t society at all, but a rough-around-the-edges man from Wheeling, who doesn’t temper what he says or try to win Camilla’s approval. I’m still writing the first draft of that one, but a few more weeks should see me writing the end.
To Spark a Match
Matchmakers Series #2
Genres: Historical Romance
Release Date: November 14, 2023
After five unsuccessful Seasons on the marriage mart, Miss Adelaide Duveen has resigned herself to the notion that she’s destined to remain a spinster forever—a rather dismal prospect, but one that will allow her to concentrate on her darling cats and books. However, when she inadvertently stumbles upon Mr. Gideon Abbott engaged in a clandestine activity during a dinner party, Adelaide finds herself thrust into a world of intrigue that resembles the plots in the spy novels she devours.
Former intelligence agent Gideon Abbott feels responsible for Adelaide after society threatens to banish her because of the distraction she caused to save his investigation. Hoping to return the favor, he turns to a good friend—and one of high society’s leaders—to take Adelaide in hand and turn her fashionable. When danger surrounds them and Adelaide finds herself a target of the criminals in Gideon’s case, the spark of love between them threatens to be quenched for good—along with their lives.
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