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by C.A. Belmond

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 2007
ISBN: 0-451-22052-8
Publisher: NAL/Berkley

Plucky American tracks down an unexpected European inheritance in Belmond’s debut.

For most of her adult life, Penny Nichols has spent her days in a small New York apartment making ends meet on a freelancer’s meager salary. As a researcher, Penny’s job entails unearthing tiny facts and trivia about important female figures in history. While working on a film in France, Penny gets the news that her great-aunt has died. Penny is summoned by her relatives to London to be present at the reading of the will. Great-Aunt Penelope (Penny’s parents smartly named their only child after the wealthy dowager) has bequeathed her fortune to Penny and her two British cousins, Jeremy and Rollo. The split of the inheritance stirs up jealousy and a bit of intrigue: Rollo contests the will. Jeremy and Penny haven’t seen each other in more than a decade, but both harbor sentimental remembrances of past family gatherings. Based on her instincts, Penny forms an alliance with Jeremy to fend off Rollo’s advances—Rollo will use any means necessary to secure the valuable assets (including a priceless 15th-century painting and a vintage automobile). As Jeremy and Penny battle Rollo’s attacks, they discover family secrets that threaten to destroy their bond. The very reserved Jeremy and the rather spastic Penny must learn to trust each other and work as a team in order to solve the mysteries surrounding Penelope’s life, and protect their rightful inheritance. Belmond throws in everything—mystery, romance, a whirlwind tour of Europe’s hot spots—but the story fails to generate heat.

A pleasant jaunt through Europe, ruined by a gimmicky plot.