Sunday, February 28, 2010

'A Rather Lovely Inheritance' Introduces Charming New Heroine

I received the first three books in this series from author C. A. Belmond from a wonderful publicist at Penguin. The third book A Rather Charming Invitation was released on February 2nd. I've just finished the first book A Rather Lovely Inheritance (since my reading OCD prevents me from reading series books out of order), and I was thoroughly enthralled by Penny Nichols, the heroine of the book.

In A Rather Lovely Inheritance, Penny Nichols is a freelance set designer for small budget historical films. She spends her days doing research on necklace designs for medieval queens and appropriate chair choices for inclusions in shots of 16th century French castles. While on location in France, she receives a call from her mother which ultimately changes her life.

Penny's great-aunt and namesake Penelope has passed away, leaving behind a will that spreads her inheritance among her living relatives. This is a group Penny knows little about, with her parents and herself living in America and them living in Europe. When Penny travels to London for the reading of the will, she meets her lawyer cousin Jeremy again (after a few childhood summers spent together when they were young), her thug-like cousin Rollo for the first time, and an odd aunt or two, as well.

Things heat up when Penny and her mother inherit more than some family members think they should have. Penny moves into the expensive London apartment her mother inherits, and mysterious things begin to happen. Family secrets come to light, including some about her only ally in all this, Jeremy. Penny also travels to the south of France, where she was given Aunt Penelope's French villa's garage and its contents. Penny searches for the truth in all the mess around her, prompting attacks on herself and forcing Jeremy away in the process.

Belmond has brought readers a new heroine to be excited about in this series. Think Becky Bloomwood (without the shopping habit) and Bridget Jones (without some of the embarrassing moments). Penny is a likeable, intelligent female character whose new heiress lifestyle is the stuff dreams are made of. The only component of the book which didn't quite work for me was the romantic relationship. Penny becomes romantically involved with a family member who doesn't turn out to be blood-related. However, romances with even step-family members seem a little twisted to me -- in an innocent, Clueless-style way, of course.

I'm looking forward to the other two books in this series. Belmond has taught writing at NYU and written and directed for television and film.

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