A Wallflower Ball: Fun with Jen Turano!

Great news, readers! (Any sentence involving “free” and “books” gets my attention, anyway.)

Jen Turano’s new Apart From the Crowd series, following a group of wallflowers in their adventures in New York society, launches this month with a free ebook novella!


You can download it from your favorite ebook retailer (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD).

To celebrate, I asked Jen if she’d take us into the world of her characters during one of the Gilded Age social events where everyone wanted an invitation: a ball at the Astor House.

And here it is, one of the most ostentatious mansions New York has ever seen:


Inside, the atmosphere would be charged with rumors and romance and possibly a bit of danger and intrigue. It might look something like this:


Of course, dinner would be served. Here is a typical menu from the Gilded Age:

First Course
Julienne or Vermicelli Soup

Second Course
Broiled Salmon
Turbot in Lobster Sauce
Filet de Soles
Red Mullet
Lobster Rissoles

Canards a la Rouennaise
Mutton Cutlets
Braised Beef
Spring Chicken
Roast Quarter of Lamb
Roast Saddle of Mutton

Third Course
Roast Duck
Mayonnaise of Chicken
Green Peas
Charlotte Russe
Compote of Cherries
Neapolitan Cakes
Madiera Wine

Or you could take a walk outside, perhaps down to Central Park for some ice skating:


This might be what Wilhelmina looked like bundled up for a wintery afternoon outdoors:


And here’s a typical gown like her friend Permilia might have worn to the ball:


Speaking of gorgeous dresses, take a look at the one on the cover of Jen’s upcoming release, Behind the Scenes! (Doesn’t it remind you of the research photo above that Jen sent to our designers?)


There’s an extended excerpt of the first book in the series within the ebook novella of At Your Request, so you can get started on it before anyone else.

To keep the fun going, we’re going to give away two copies of Behind the Scenes! To enter, comment on this post with the answer to one, or all, of these questions: If you were attending a Gilded Age ball, what color would your dress be? Which foods on the menu look most and least appetizing? Would you give ice skating a try?

Winners will be listed in next week’s blog post on January 19. (If you are an international reader, you can still enter, but I will substitute the book with an Amazon egift card because of the cost of shipping.)

97 thoughts on “A Wallflower Ball: Fun with Jen Turano!

  1. The salmon sounds good, but I can’t imagine eating tongue! I’d like to try the ice skating, but I can’t imagine being able to do something like skating in the dresses that were worn in those days.

  2. I would wear a soft dusty pink to the ball, silk preferably, 3/4 length sleeves, not tight fitting so I could dance. Have skated before and that also requires flowing clothing.
    I love the look of the book series as, having seen some of those huge mansions here in England, it will be easy for my imaginative brain to click into the stunning settings!

  3. I imagine myself in some sort of pale green dress.
    As for ice-skating, something I love to do, but I can’t imagine doing it in a dress!

  4. I generally consider myself proficient at ice skating, but I would think the picks would catch on the front of one’s skirts something awful. Might be worth it to skip the fish course, though . . . pretty sure I’d rather eat one sliver of tongue amongst a full plate of meat than suffer a whole course devoted to fish. [shudder]

  5. If I could have lived in the Gilded Age and have been invited to a wonderful party I would have loved a gown like the one on the cover of Behind The Scenes! but I would have chosen pink.

    I would have chosrn these items on the menu, not because I know how some of them taste, but because I like their names. (A girl has to broaden her horizons!) Vermicelli Soup, followed by Broiled Salmon and Spring Chicken and topped off with Charlotte Russe.

    After that, if I wasn’t sick, I would take the walk to the skating rink and take a spin.

  6. My dress would be some shade of purple, violet, or plum. Being a vegetarian, I may have gone home a little hungry, unless I could have filled up on soup and nibbled on a few of the fish selections. I have been on ice skates before, so yes, I would have definitely tried that.

  7. I would choose a dress in a dark colour, maybe a deep red velvet. The most appetizing food would have to be the Neapolitan Cakes and least appetizing the Tongue. I’ve never tried ice skating but if there was a rather handsome gentleman willing to show me how, I’d definitely have to have a go 😉

  8. Dress color: a deep plum. Food: I would say the salmon or chicken dishes would be tasty, but wouldn’t touch the Tongue dish. 🤢

  9. Hi Amy! Fantastic post on Jen’s new series 🙂

    My dress…hmm…how about a lovely pale green? Maybe silk and a bit looser for comfort. Definitely more modest than some marriage-minded ladies would’ve been wearing 😉

    The spring chicken sounded the most appetizing. Least appetizing would be tongue or the compote of cherries. And what exactly is mayonnaise of chicken? 😉

    I’ve never been ice skating, but it would be amazing to try it in New York in the park. Plus, all those petticoats and under layers would be plentiful cushion for the backside, should I wipe out and land on the ice!

  10. I’m a redhead with blue eyes but my favorite color was always green – I would choose a soft green, modest with a higher neckline, full puffy sleeves and a fairly long train. I would choose for dinner Julienne Soup, Lobster Rissoles, Roast Quarter of Lamb,
    Mayonnaise of Chicken, Green Peas, and Compote of Cherries. I would probably not go skating as I have weak ankles. But I would accompany my companion to enjoy the skating experience.

  11. I would either choose blue or a mauve color for my dress. As far as the food goes-could I just skip to dessert? Last-I would definitely try ice skating, although I don’t know how well I would have done the task in the fashion of that day!

  12. I would wear a blue dress. Blue is my favorite color. Mayonnaise of chicken sounds interesting. Tongue doesn’t appeal to me at all. Yes, I would ice skate, absolutely. What fun it would be!

  13. My ball gown would be a light purple. Tongue sounds disgusting but Spring Chicken doesn’t sound bad. I would love to try ice skating.

  14. *I would wear a blue dress to draw the blue out of my eyes. I’ve always wanted an excuse to dress in a fancy gown (other than my wedding dress).
    *The 2nd course and entrees would be hard to stomach for me-tongue??! No thank you!
    *As for ice skating, I would try it. But I know I don’t have great balance or grace, so I would have to be okay with making him a fo of myself while also trying to act like it doesn’t matter one bit to my pride.
    I cannot wait to read “Behind the Scenes”. I started “At Your Request” last night!! I absolutely love reading Jen Turano-she’s one of the first authors I share with my friends looking for a good read 😊

  15. I’m wearing a lavender silk and satin dress. I’m also most excited about trying ice skating in my new throw. The sound of mutton kind of has me thinking no….but I’m looking forward to trying the neopolation cake.

  16. Dress would probably be a jewel tone blue and the trout, salmon or beef sound good….some others not so much! What a beautiful book cover!

  17. My gown would be shades of blue. I would probably eat the salmon and lamb and I have tried ice skating once and it was a total failure, so I would skip that for sure!

  18. My dress would probably be blue or pink, and I would love to give ice skating a tryeven in a dress! That I you for the giveaway! I’m looking forward to reading this book.

  19. What a fun post/giveaway! I would definitely wear a purplish gown of some sort and would totally try out ice skating, I’m not used to cold weather but it all sounds so fun and intriguing 🙂 Love Jen’s new cover and such great visuals used here!

  20. lavender and ivory….my favorite colors…..Trout yes…..tongue no……
    Ice skating yes……Love the above posting and the pics!!! Can’t wait to read the book!

  21. I would love to go to a ball like this!
    My favorite food would be the braised beef and the neopolitan cakes! My dress would be ivory with red roses on the collar. I would definitely ice skate!

  22. I would absolutely try ice skating!! And if I could choose any color for a gown, I would be torn between a navy blue gown with intricate glass beading in the Edwardian style, or there is a beautiful ivory satin dress with multicolored Chinese floral embroidery whose picture I pinned on Pinterest a long time ago that would be a dream to wear!

  23. I would probably wear a light blue dress with ruffles and lace. The menu sounds intriguing, but I would definitely stay away from several dishes. Ice skating, most likely not. I would sprain, if not break my ankle especially while wearing a floor length dress.

  24. Since I’m not a fan of seafood, I would have to ship quite a lot. I’m very curious about the mayonnaise of chicken! Would love to go ice skating and my dress would be a soft mauve!

  25. I”m married, so I can wear bright colors, yay! I think I would go for a cranberry colored dress. And I hope that you get to pick your entree. I would have some issues politely trying some of those.

  26. If you were attending a Gilded Age ball, what color would your dress be?
    Green?? or maybe a shade of Purple
    Which foods on the menu look most and least appetizing?
    Most – Braised Beef Least – Tongue
    Would you give ice skating a try? When I was younger yes, at my age, no, unless I meet my goals to loose weight and get way more healthy this year, then it may be yes again, I used to love ice skating.

  27. Oh i am so excited to read Jen Turano newest book!!!! Thanks for the free ebook and the contest. I would wear a lavender dress with black or grey lace and a matching lavender hat with black or grey feathers

  28. Dress would be burgundy or teal and l’d like the salmon. Look forward to reading the new book, hopefully my free copy that I win here!

  29. I think the peas and strawberries look the most appealing. Seafood and tongue don’t appeal to me at all. I would definitely go ice skating.

  30. I think I would chose a light blue dress with cream colored accents. As for the menu, many things sound interesting, but not the tongue!! As for the ice skating… I might try it if I had a handsome man teaching me how to do it!

  31. Dress: Blush pink
    Menu: Filet de Sole, Broiled Salmon, and strawberries
    Ice skating? Probably not 🙂
    Thanks for the chance! I would love to read this book!

  32. If I lived during the Gilded Age:

    Dress: Light pink or blue
    Menu: Compote of Cherries or Neapolitan Cakes
    Ice skating: Of course . . . it’s my favorite winter sport 🙂

    Thanks for the chance !!! I can’t wait to read this book.

  33. I would give ice skating a try only if i had a man on both sides to support me! I would wear a blue velvet dress with rose petals. As for the dinner i would stick with chicken. As to what i wouldnt eat are snails or dishes thst would look back at me. I have to ask how did they go when they needed to to the powder room?

  34. My dress would probably be blue. As for the menu, I would probably choose salmon, but definitely not tongue! I would love ice skating in Central Park.

  35. Those pictures are fabulous and I can’t wait to read this book. If I were going to a ball I think I would chose a nice pale mint green to bring out my eyes…and I would certainly stand out in a crowd since I think most would go for pinks and blues.

    One must try secure the attention of society in the best way possible you know 😉

    Thanks for a chance to win!

  36. I would want to wear a pale pink dress with lots of ruffles. The menu is quite extensive and I believe I would stick with the strawberries! I tried ice skating as a child….at my age I am safer sitting and watching! Fun blog post. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  37. That’s an easy question because green is my favorite color! I would choose emerald green if the party was an evening gathering or celery green if it was at day party!

    The menu looks really over stuffing. I think that most of it looks pretty good especially the dessert with the Neapolitan cakes! I don’t know though that I would be too enticed to try the tongue.

    I used to ice skate as a teenager but not so much now. If I lived in the Victorian age, I would definitely try ice skating because I think it would be neat to ice skate in long skirts. It just seems more in tune with classical pieces like the Skaters Waltz etc.

    This was fun to answer as I LOVE the Victorian age!

  38. Since I would be an “old spinster” definitely regulated to wallflower status, I’d not be in youthful pastels, so I’d go with a jewel tone in blue or green. At dinner, I’d love the salmon but decline the tongue. I may try the ice skating but probably spend more time on the sidelines enjoying hot chocolate…because let’s be honest, no matter the time period, chocolate is a good idea.

  39. My dress would be the palest of pinks with tiny white voile ruffles around the neckline and bottom of the short puffed sleeves–worn with elbow length white gloves. I would prefer the turbot in lobster sauce and stay away from the tongue! Oh yes, I would ice skate.

  40. I don’t know if I should be embarrassed that I didn’t know what this edible “mullet” could be, but I had to google it. I don’t like fish, so I’ll stick with the beef and cakes. I think I’d wear a dark purple or green dress.

  41. My dress would probably be blue to make my eyes stand out.
    Menu: least appetizing whitebait or the red mullet but I wouldn’t be eating any tongue either. Most appetizing spring chicken or the lobster rissoles.
    Yes, I would give ice skating a try.
    Loved the novella and I’m so excited about this upcoming book.

  42. My dress would be blue or burgundy. I’d probably have the salmon, trout, spring chicken, some neapolitan cakes and Charlotte russe. The tongue sounds least appetizing. I would probably try some ice skating.

  43. I don’t think I would enjoy most of the food on the menu! Maybe the duck.
    My gown would definitely be lavender. And it would have beautiful embellishments.
    I would probably have tried ice skating, but it’s hard to picture doing it in a dress!

  44. I would wear a light or pale blue dress similar to the one on the cover and I would also have a beautiful fan because I love fans. I wouldn’t eat much because it all sounds strange to me and I would be too excited, but I definitely would not eat the tongue. Ice skating would be out, but I believe they usually had small fires going and a stand for hot chocolate. That’s where I would be.

  45. I would wear a pink gown to the Ball and would feast on chicken and would stay away from tongue and lamb /mutton and I would give Ice skating a try.

  46. I think I would try ice skating–maybe the dress would provide ample padding for when I fall down! Thanks for the giveaway! I’m looking forward to this series!

  47. O.. I’m thinking a yellow dress with details and in terms of food, when in doubt, go safe! Chicken and fish…etc. And o yes to the ice skating, especially in Central Park – gorgeous!

  48. What beautiful covers! If I lived during the Gilded Age, I would definitely be one of those wallflowers. 🙂 I would wear a blue dress or maybe a dark green, but I would stay inside during the cold winter. I can’t skate very well, and I dislike the cold (very ironic considering I live in Northern NY).

  49. I would wear a flowing pale green shimmery dress. I wouldn’t eat the tongue or quail, but I would like the strawberries and Madiera wine. I would like to take a walk in Central Park, I wouldn’t try to ice skating in a long dress. Can’t wait to read “Behind the Scenes”.

  50. If an offer to go ice skating ever came my way, I would jump at the chance to go and if I was invited to a Gilded Age ball I would wear a plum colored velvet gown. As for the menu; I do think that the vermicelli soup must have been quite tasty, but the whitebait concerns me. Why would you to eat a dish that was named after something you put on the end of a hook?

    Thank you for the contest!

  51. A deep rose would be the color of the dress I would choose to wear to the ball. As I am quite taken with the Gilded Age and have read/reviewed a number of books of that time period, I would be an eager participant. All of the food offerings sound interesting except for one – green peas! They are at the top of my “Yuck List!” I used to roller skate as a kid and loved it. I have never tried ice skating because the thought of falling on ice rather than the ground seems like it would hurt a lot more.

    Thank you for the giveaway. I am a fan of Jen Turano and look forward to reading/reviewing more of her books.

  52. I would wear a light pink dress for a spring ball. Of course, for winter (Ice skating), a darker, warmer color, jade green velvet long sleeve dress.
    The foods most appetizing are the lobster and mousse.
    And of course I would try the ice skating, it would be fun!
    I really enjoy Jen’s books! She is one of my favorite authors. I tell all my avid reader friends about her books. Her wit and sense of humor are top knotch. I have read almost all of them, just missing a couple…next payday😊

  53. My gown for the ball would be a regency purple. I would like to at least try the braised beef, roast quarter of lamb, and roast duck. Those dishes sound good, but I would skip all the seafood dishes and the wine. And ice skating? Definitely! I’ve always wanted to go ice skating!

  54. That dress is beautiful! I would love it as is but in the cream color. I think most all the food would be appealing to me except maybe the tongue. It’s difficult to eat when I prepare it at home just because of the mental image, but delicious if I don’t know what it is! I’m not too sure about the mayonnaise of chicken, but I would love to try the Charlotte Russe! Ice skating? Yes, but maybe not in that dress! Thanks for offering this drawing!

  55. I would love that dress just as is! I’m not too sure about the tongue entree or mayonnaise of chicken, but I would love to try the Charlotte Russe! Ice skating? Yes, but not sure about it in that dress!

  56. My dress would be a jewel tone or silver-blue if it had to be pale. I tend to wash out in pale colors and I cannot wear the yellow/orange/brown spectrum. Everything on the menu sounds good to me. I have an adventurous palate. Tongue is actually good when spiced and cooked properly. It tastes like a very tender roast beef. However, I could not ice skate without injuring my ankle, so I would have to pass on that.

  57. My dress would be a gauzy gold color. I would have to skip the tongue. I believe it is an acquired taste. I’m afraid I will have to pass on the ice skating. Lack of coordination!

    Mary Koester

  58. Royal blue dress, w/ silver highlights; I’m a Pescatarian, so NO MEAT, but would like to try the salmon, & lobster dish…I was born & raised in Minnesota–of course I would try ice skating!

  59. I’m past ice skating years 🙂 and I would enjoy watching those that can skate, preferably with a fire pit nearby to warm up next to it. I’m able to eat most anything, I’ve had tongue- it’s not that bad if cooked right… I would be most interested in how the Salmon was prepared and flavored. Last but not least, a deep blue dress that shimmers in the light… my mom had a dress like that when I was a kid and I’ve never seen fabric like it since.

  60. I love jewel and earthy tones so I would prefer a dark green, burnt orange or deep blue for a gown, though I love the white gown on the cover. I recognize most of the foods listed wouldn’t be opposed to trying any one of them, the tongue being my last pick. And yes, I would definitely put on some ice skates and finish the evening on the ice.

  61. Is tongue something not eaten much in the USA? I’m interested by the number of ‘no tongue!’ comments. 🙂 It’s actually really tasty, but I must confess to buying it tinned these days, and not from the butcher!
    My gown would be green or blue, and I’d have jewels in my hair!
    I used to do a lot of skating, but in a long dress I think I’d watch from the sidelines and drink hot chocolate, daintily!
    (By the way, I work for the UK representatives for your books, Jen, so please don’t include me in the competition draw. So pleased that you’ve opened the draw to international readers though!)

  62. I would love to give ice skating a try. Although I’m not particularly graceful, with the arm of a gentleman, I think I’d manage.

  63. I think that my dress would have been rose silk. The Gilded Age has always fascinated me so I’m looking forward to reading this series. Lamb is my favorite entre so no question there. I used to ice skate as a teenager but haven’t tried it in years.

  64. I would wear white. I’d most like to eat Mayonnaise of Chicken and least like to eat Whitebait (don’t know what it is but sounds awful).

  65. My dress would be ivory with ribbons and flowers in hues of peacock blue and turquoise. I would wear a simple tiara in my hair and carry a fan made of peacock feathers.
    I don’t eat much and this many courses almost frightens me. I would sip my vermicelli soup slowly and probably leave most of it for the servants to carry away. The salmon sounds good to me because I eat it often. I’ve eaten tongue and if it’s prepared properly is quite good. Since I’ve never tried mutton, I’d go with the cutlets. Strawberries to finish off because they are my favorite fruit.
    I believe I’ll remain a wallflower for the skating, preferring to have a gentleman engage me in conversation on the sidelines.
    I got to this email late and I apologize for that. This is one of the most fun comment threads I’ve been involved in and wish my inbox wasn’t so clogged so I could get to it sooner. Happy skating. Have a wonderful time in the mansion!

  66. My dress would have probably been a gold color but soft tones.

    Broiled Salmon would be a favorite. Keep the Tongue though. That sounds disgusting.

    I would try ice skating.

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