The heroine of BEFORE THE KISS and ONCE UPON A KISS is Justina (Jussy) Penny. Her parents are Dr. and Mrs. Penny who are some of the principle residents in the small village of Hawcombe Prior. I've decided to showcase them together because I don't think they would want to be separated. Well, Dr. Penny might like a little peace and quiet for a while, but his wife would instantly want to know what he'd been saying and doing in her absence!
They are a couple who happily put down roots in the village when they were first married and there is not much that goes on there now without them knowing. But while Mrs. Penny likes to collect this information about her neighbors and share it lavishly, her husband is usually off in his own world. Only occasionally does he listen to what goes on at his table - and only if it appeals to his quirky sense of humor.
The Pennys have been married for twenty five years and they have two daughters. Cathy is the one upon whom all their hopes rest - at least in Mrs. Penny's mind - because she is pretty and well-behaved, and she knows her responsibility to find a husband. But their youngest, Jussy, has a spark of mischief that her father appreciates. He shares her sense of curiosity about the world and recognizes her intelligence when, in the eyes of most people, she is simply a troublemaker. Although all the women in his family often leave him out-numbered, bemused and befuddled, Dr. Penny has a soft spot for Jussy. He is patient and thoughtful, with just a touch of eccentricity. As he freely admits, he much prefers the dead insects and stuffed birds he collects to the living patients he must tend. He prefers studying creatures when they cannot study him in return!
And she makes the best jam in the county - she would want me to mention that.