Just in Time, by Judith A. Lansdowne

>> Thursday, February 05, 2004

I finished a book by a new-to-me author yesterday: Just in Time, byJudith A. Lansdowne.

The Reverend Richard Damsey is delighted when the Duke of Berinwick offers him the vicarage at St. Milburga's of the Wood. A lover of antiquities, Richard will be able to delve into the legends of Owain Glyndwr's cup. Upon his arrival at the rectory, Richard is informed of the Duke's demise and that he now must deal with the young, formidable new Duke. But a surprise awaits him with the discovery that the dowager Duchess of Berinwick is none other than Veronica Longwood, a beloved childhood friend.

Richard's involvement with the people of the parish puts him in contact with Veronica, and it's not long before their childhood love blossoms into a tender, sweet, mature relationship. An armor-clanking ghost, an old feud, murder and mayhem all come together to put an end to the legend of Owain and his long-missing cup.
Just in Time sounded interesting, but it ended up being a disappointment. A D+.

I really liked the set-up for the story and the bare bones of the plot. I even approved of the basics of how that plot developed. However there were quite a few problems.

The main one was that I just couldn't warm up to the characters. Veronica I felt was a complete idiot and a whiny ninny. Ok, her original actions, which resulted in the accident that cost her son William her eye, were perfectly understandable and excusable. It was an accident, an impulsive act, meant to be harmless, which had unintended consequences. But her subsequent, self-indulgent actions weren't excusable or understandable. I mean, to send her son away because looking at him made her feel guilty? And, to make it even worse, even years and years later, she refuses to accept responsability and blames her husband and parents for "not making her strong". It's not her fault, you see, that she's weak. Idiotic ninny.

Richard was much more likeable than Veronica (which didn't require much!). He was a kind guy with a lovely sense of humour. The problem is that his characterization made it hard for me to see him as a romantic hero. The feeling I got from him was harmless, doddering old fool, contrasting with the fit, healthy 40 year old he was supposed to be.

The love story was barely there, and I didn't like the little I saw of it. It appeared to be simply left overs from their fondness for each other as children, with absolutely no passion involved.

The suspense subplot was idiotic, too, with a stupid family feud hundreds of years old.

Finally, another problem was the author's writing style, which for some reason made it difficult for me to get caught up in the story. I had to concentrate on making some progress, because if I didn't make that effort, my mind started wondering every couple of pages.


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