Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Rather Curious Engagement, by C. A. Belmond ($14)

It's a little too sweet at times, but for the most part, it's a charming, disarming story of a poor girl who meets a boy AND gets a boatload of money, not by getting the boy but by using her smarts.

A Rather Curious Engagement is the second book in a so-far three-book series. In the first book, A Rather Lovely Inheritance, heroine Penny Nichols discovered the boy, Jeremy Laidley, right under her own nose -- he's a relation through marriage -- and the money was pretty much found under the same nose. So in this book, Penny and Jeremy must decide how to spend the money, and it's serious money, folks. Get the brain cells which deal with vicarious pleasure fired up, because we readers get to cruise along with P&J as they deliberate life's big and little choices.

First item: fix decaying but interesting London domicile. Second item: fix decaying but interesting inherited French villa. Third item: buy yacht.

P&J's financial advisor solemnly advises them to buy something frivolous. (Can I get an advisor like that?) Penny thinks more along the lines of a new pair of shoes, but Jeremy goes for the gusto. Apparently he has always wanted to sail around the Mediterranean. And, of course, you need a yacht to do that. Nothing ostentatious, just your run-of-the-mill sloop with rare wood inlays and crew of four. And antiques curio cabinet. And hidden drawers. And a secret aquamanile called "Beethoven's Lion."

It wouldn't be as much fun if P&J didn't do something "worthwhile" while showing us how to live the good life, so they accept a commission to find "Beethoven's Lion," an antique that the previous owner of the yacht somehow lost. P&J turn out to be pretty down-to-earth and nice. They revel in their fortune but don't go overboard, literally or figuratively. C.A. Belmond takes great pains -- too many pains, if you ask me -- to point out that P&J are related only by marriage. Got that -- they can be romantically involved because they are not related by blood. Once you get that, you can settle somewhere cozy to read this cozy. It's The Shell Seekers with less drama and a teensy bit more mystery.

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