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C.A. Belmond

REVIEW: A Rather Remarkable Homecoming by C.A. Belmond

REVIEW: A Rather Remarkable Homecoming by C.A. Belmond

Dear Ms. Belmond,

Before I started this book, I hoped that my reading experience wouldn’t continue the pattern of the previous three books – loved “Inheritance,” thought “Engagement” was just okay, enjoyed “Invitation.” In other words, up then down then up then maybe down again. Well, I liked “Homecoming” but definitely not as much as books one or three.

A Rather Remarkable Homecoming	C.A. BelmondNewlyweds Penny Nichols Laidley and her husband Jeremy have just returned to their home base in London from an extended honeymoon when their next sleuthing case lands in their laps. Despite their vow to each other to carefully consider taking on any cases involving either family or Very Important People, this investigation promises to do both. Penny’s grandmother willed her lovely Cornish estate to the small town of Port St. Francis with the idea of the town using it for the good of the community. They’ve done this for years but now the place, indeed the entire town, is at risk from developers who want to spiff it up and thus probably run up property taxes to the point that the natives and working class people of the area will be priced out of the market.

A certain Royal Personage along with the desperate locals are hoping Penny and Jeremy can find proof that Will Shakespeare did indeed Sleep There and thereby qualify the estate for protection from the massive Improvement Plans the sleazy and slightly scary developers have for it. With the hopes of the town riding on them, can Penny and Jeremy save the day?

This is a good series for people interested in mystery plus sleuthing plus history plus some romance but without the eeevil villains often found in romantic suspense books. It continues to feature more “off the usual beaten path” locations – in this case Cornwall rather than being totally located in London. I also like that the mystery involves something that’s not too far fetched and which is part of the location. Penny’s knowledge of history and antiquities plus Jeremy’s legal skills together with something that’s already in the area are what save the day rather than some “rabbit out of a hat” unbelievable solution to the problem.

I had some problems in “Engagement” with the way facts needed for the case were worked into the story and that is also the case here. At times it seemed like I was reading a travelogue of Cornwall. I am all for tidbits of local color in a story but lots of the stuff here just comes across as “gee whiz, look at this fun trivia!” At times Jeremy and Penny split up to research and investigate and their breathless reports to each other come off more as school research papers. Some of their dialogue also sounds too earnest as if they’re actors in a drama class. Also Penny’s mother is English and she’s vacationed in Cornwall before moving there so some of the things she appears to be ignorant of don’t make sense. More than once I thought, “I’ve never been to England but even *I* know [insert fact] so why doesn’t Penny?”

Jeremy and Penny are still in the besotted newlywed phase which is fine with me. I enjoyed their teasing as well as Jeremy’s determination to protect Penny during an event that occurs with their Cousin Rollo – who does always seem to be around when the best brandy is being opened and poured. Yet, it was almost a relief when they actually had a bit of a tiff since up til then these two were almost more sympatico then identical twins.

Even though this book didn’t quite match my hopes for it, I’m glad that the series is still ongoing and – I hope – will continue to do so. Intelligence and brains solve the conundrums rather than shoot outs and though Jeremy and Penny might be in danger at times, they’re never really in serious peril of their lives. There are times when I’m in the mood for sensual and times when I’m not and the “A Rather…” books provide a sweet, no sex mystery series. With Sir Francis now on board to help, I’m sure Nichols & Laidley will be up to something interesting soon. C


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What Jayne is reading/watching in mid August

What Jayne is reading/watching in mid August

My entries for this feature might end up being sporadic as I often don’t know what I’m going to read next until I eye my TBR print stacks or flip through my menu screens on my ereader. I’m just as spontaneous in my movie watching, too. And once I start a book, the odds are I will either finish it or drop it early so I usually don’t have too many DNF reviews. With that in mind here goes.

Powder and Patch, Black Sheep by Georgette Heyer – see the reviews already posted.

Unnatural Fire by Fidelis Morgan – this is a book I bought after seeing it raved about in the Bas Bleu catalogue. The first in a mystery series set in post Glorious Revolution England (1690s), it features down on her luck noblewoman Countess Ashby de la Zouche and a former servant of hers who solve crimes. It’s warts and all London with all its questionable hygiene and Fleet Street Prison. I started reading this a few weeks ago and put it down for some reason. Maybe the imaginary smells were getting to me but I do plan to pick it up again.

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Spellcast by Barbara Ashford – this is from a box of advanced reading copies that Jane sent me. Maggie lost her job in NYC and after her ceiling fell in on her, she decided to sublet her apartment for the summer then just drive and see where she ends up. The end up spot is a small town in Vermont and to top it off, suddenly she finds herself auditioning for a summer stock group. The tone is hilarious but something made me flip to the end to see if I’d get a HEA. The answer is unclear but due to the fact that I enjoyed Ashford’s writing style, I plan to give this one another go too.

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A Rather Remarkable Homecoming by C.A. Belmond – the fourth entry in this series about a “by marriage” cousins (no blood relation) who inherited some lucre, made some more then fell in love and got married, it picks up with Penny and Jeremy arriving home from their honeymoon to find a new mystery/sleuthing mission awaiting them. Though not as good as books 1 & 3, I still whipped through it and liked it but didn’t love it. Full review will be done.

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Yankee Doodle Dixie by Lisa Patton – the sequel to Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’Easter it follows Leelee Satterfield back to her hometown of Memphis, TN. At loose ends after selling the Inn she’d run in Vermont, Leelee finds that her new life in Memphis isn’t quite the return to Home Sweet Home that she thought it would be. It’s the same breezy style as before and I enjoyed seeing Leelee and her 3 best friends again but felt I was reading a rerun of book one but with more heat and humidity. Full review will be done.

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Space Slugs by Frances Pauli – After our recent fun discussion about penguin shapeshifters, I remembered that I had this ebook arc loaded on my ereader and decided, “WTF why not?” I’ve barely begun it and don’t think that the space slug will be the heroine (at least I think it’s a female) of the romance but it’s early days yet.

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After that I have a few books in mind I might try next including The King’s Courtesan by Judith James because I liked the first book in the series and Swept Off Her Feet by Hester Browne because a friend of mine tried and like it.


Hula Girls – it’s 1965 in northern Japan, and the mine that supports most of the town is shutting down. The company plans to develop a “Hawaiian” resort and a number of young women apply to be hula dancers there. Facing criticism from their friends and family, can they stick with it and thereby have jobs or will they cave to public pressure? This defines “heartwarming” though that also applies to “predictable.” I could tell when each phase of the movie arrived and pinpoint what would come next. It’s cute but never rises much above that level. Why watch it? It’s got some great hula dancing once the women really get going.

Yojimbo – This is the second Kurosawa film I’ve tried and as I told my kitty when we started watching it, Kurosawa had one more chance to win me over after the DNF of “The Hidden Fortress.” Win me he did with the story of an “at large” samurai in 1850s Japan who comes to a small town being torn apart by rival gangsters. Remade many times by Western directors, it’s got humor, drama, greed, violence and some amazing sword fighting plus one fancy Dan who prances around with a pistol. After this one, I’m ready to try more of his films.

Random Harvest – Greer Garson and Ronald Colman meet in post WWI England, fall in love, marry then are separated by – oh, I’m not sure – lotsa years of every melodrama known to man before finally! reaching their HEA. It’s finely acted and not overplayed melodrama in tasteful English fashion but way too much “piled on piled on” for me. Everything but the kitchen sink sagas have never been my thing but I can see how, if they are your thing, this would be very satisfying at the end.