To save her family from financial ruin, Miss Poppy Garrison accepts an unusual proposition to participate in the New York social season in exchange for her grandmother settling a family loan that has unexpectedly come due. Ill-equipped to handle the intricacies of mingling within the New York Four Hundred, Poppy becomes embroiled in one hilarious fiasco after another, doomed to suffer a grand societal failure instead of being deemed the diamond of the first water her grandmother longs for her to become.
Reginald Blackburn, second son of a duke, has been forced to travel to America to help his cousin, Charles Wynn, Earl of Lonsdale, find an American heiress to wed in order to shore up his family estate that is in desperate need of funds. Reginald himself has no interest in finding an heiress to marry, but when Poppy’s grandmother asks him to give etiquette lessons to Poppy, he swiftly discovers he may be in for much more than he bargained for.
Diamond in the Rough is a historical novel set in 1885, the Gilded Age. Poppy Garrison was raised on a horse farm in Pennsylvania. At her family's request, she agrees to spend time in New York with her grandmother, experiencing a social season. Because Poppy is not ready for society life, her grandmother talks a brooding Englishman, Reginald Blackburn, into teaching her etiquette and helping her come out in society. Poppy and Reginald are complete opposites - but somehow they find a tenuous connection.
I was interested in reading Diamond in the Rough because I knew I would enjoy the Gilded Age setting. I also had not read any novels by Jen Turano, but have heard how much fun her books are.
This novel was a delight from the very start. It is what I would call rollicking fun. Poppy is such a character! She is forthright and impulsive and used to life where she can be active and do as she pleases. New York society does not come naturally to her. She finds herself in one predicament after another. In the first, she finds her tiara caught on a gentleman's sleeve while doing a Quadrille at a ball. Later, she goes for a carriage ride in Central Park; the horse takes off at a gallop and Poppy ends up in the lake.
Reginald is very proper and British and he realizes he has his work cut out for him helping Poppy learn etiquette. As they work together, they both learn from each other, and of course there are romantic sparks. However, Reginald has introduced himself as Mr. Blackburn, and has not revealed that he is the son of a Duke, so he has to contend with that as well.
The Gilded Age details are fascinating. I loved reading about Poppy's daily life, with dances, calling hours, carriage rides, and tea rooms. I felt bad for her, though, with some of the difficult social conventions, like uncomfortable, binding corsets that she was not used to.
I found Diamond in the Rough an enjoyable and thoroughly unique book. It has lovely period details, but reads like a historical romantic comedy. It was a refreshing read, and one that I think other readers will enjoy as well.
Jen Turano is a USA Today bestselling author and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at www.jenturano.com.
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