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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Loveda Brown Comes Home by Jolie Tunnell is the second book in the Idyllwild Mystery series. Take a trip back to 1912 and visit the quaint town of Idyllwild where Loveda Brown runs a hotel and occasionally solves mysteries. When she inherited the hotel, she never expected her hands to be so full. Running the hotel and keeping guests happy is a full-time job but when a body is found she has more to contend with than demanding newlyweds. Matters escalate from there as suspects are revealed and she soon learns of a kidnapping. Surrounded by eccentric characters and situations faced during the period, Loveda deals with her most challenging mystery yet.
Idyllwild is portrayed as being idyllic, with details that draw you in through a peaceful image of a sunset with a fiery glow against the sky, creating a moment to stop everything. These opening details give a serene tone that shows what Loveda loves about the town and what it is that draws her into cleaning it up. The humor is immediately seen in the near slapstick visual of Loveda with her arms around a chimney compared to the embrace of gentle shoulders just before stumbling onto a ladder. This is a clever way to introduce her attitude and the high spirit she has regarding her opinion of the town, the people, and what she does to make it better. Jolie Tunnell delivers a lighthearted mystery that blends real commentary from the era into the story.
An assortment of characters is a great backdrop to the town and gives Loveda a lovely range of suspects. Each character has a solid personality and a specific role in either the town or the mystery. The historical backdrop is captured in subtle elements such as literary references, the Boy Scouts, and the aesthetic of the town. The period is primarily seen in the characters' experiences, mannerisms, and attitudes which allows you to see the reality faced by different types of characters. These are reflected in Loveda's thoughts about an independent woman as an oddity, in the strong voices of the suffragette characters like Mrs. Keen, and in the attitudes of the newlyweds. A charming blend of historical fiction and murder mystery, Loveda Brown Comes Home is humorous, lighthearted, and clever with themes of the period flawlessly woven in.