3 out of 4 stars
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Father Francis Gold, who goes by Father Frank (and plain old “Frank”), has had his substantial share of accidents, but he’s settled into life at his parish in Florida. After spending his first Christmas in the United States, he makes a visit back to England and returns to the States with his widowed mother, Rose. However, the mother of one of Frank’s parishioners has gone missing, and the case soon pulls Frank into the role of an unofficial private investigator. While he’s busy hunting down clues, he’s also baffled by the sparkling changes he sees in his own mother as she’s discovering America—and herself—in Blooming Rose, a novel by author Rob Wyatt.
This second book in the Father Frank series brings back the memorable and quirky core characters who were introduced in the first book, Can I Be Frank? The sequel has enough small details from the preceding novel to catch new readers up, but not so many repeated details as to bore returning readers. It’s certainly a bonus to read both novels together, and I’d recommend that readers of the sequel also read the first book, whether before or after this one.
While Blooming Rose doesn’t have as much blatant comedy as its predecessor does, it’s still a light and humorous read with a thread of mystery. It also handles serious issues, including different social mores and family dynamics between older parents and their adult children. It’s interesting to see how Frank works to not only add to his congregation but to make the church a vital part of the greater community. Even so, the way he jumps headlong into precarious situations without a plan shows that he still has more to learn. Frank’s mix of strengths and weaknesses, his interactions with friends and family, and his conversational prayers contribute to making him a well-rounded and down-to-earth protagonist.
The pacing of the story is easygoing and perhaps fairly slow, particularly during the first half of the book. More than a hundred pages through, it almost felt to me like the story was still in its beginning stages, just getting warmed up. The end of the book leaves room for a following novel; while it doesn’t finish on a total cliffhanger (since the reader can likely tell what’s coming next), the ending is rather abrupt.
There are some minor language and mechanical issues throughout the book. Because Frank and Rose are natives of England, now in the U.S., the differences between British and American English are a natural part of the characters’ conversations. However, there are brief instances when American characters use expressions that sound British, and it doesn’t appear to be an intentional aspect of the story. There’s also some confusion with homonyms, and although the book’s typos and punctuation errors aren’t excessive, the text could have used an additional proofread to give it more polish.
Nevertheless, even with its flaws, this is an entertaining novel that balances comedy with important matters of community and human relationships. Therefore, I give Blooming Rose a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. I’d recommend it to fans of light and humorous fiction that has substance blended in.
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