Sunday, 27 June 2010

Her Royal Spyness

Author: Rhys Bowen
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Historical Fiction
Pages: 324
Published: 2007
Series: 1st book in the Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie series
Series Order:
  1. Her Royal Spyness (2007)
  2. A Royal Pain (2008)
  3. Royal Flush (2009)
  4. Royal Blood (2010)

First Line: "There are two disadvantages to being a minor royal."

Synopsis: Lady Georgiana is 34th in line to the British throne. As a royal, she's has been educated to host lavish parties, to do a proper curtsie and marry well. Unfortunately, it's the year 1932 and England is in the middle of the Depression which effects both poor and rich. When Georgiana's brother cuts off her pitiful allowance and she learns that her sister-in-law and brother plan to try to marry her off to Prince Siegfried of Romania (aka 'Fish Face') Georgie quickly leaves her family castle in Scotland and heads to London. She stays in the family home but cannot even afford to hire any servants so she learns the hard way how to live on her own. In desperate need of money, she starts up her own house cleaning business unbeknownst to her family and friends who would shudder at the thought of a royal working for a living!!

While living in London, Georgie learns that her recently deceased father may have gambled away the family castle to a horrible Frenchman, Gaston de Mauxville. After finding the dead body of de Mauxville in her bathtub, Georgie's brother Binky is the main suspect. She tries to prove Binky's innocence in the crime. After several near-death experiences which include falling over the side of a boat, having a statue almost fall on her and falling down some stairs Georgie realizes that someone is out to kill her too.

But that's not Georgie's only problem. She's summoned by HRH (her Royal Highness) and asked to do some spying for the Queen. HRH is suspicious about the Prince of Wales involvement with the infamous divorcee Wallace Simpson. She asks Georgiana to spy for her to get the real facts about this woman who seems to have a lot of control over the Prince.

Will Georgie be able to find the real killer before she becomes the next target? How can she get out of spying on Wallace Simpson without insulting Her Royal Highness?

My Thoughts: This was the first book that I've ever read by British author Rhys Bowen. I was told by a local librarian that Georgiana is kind of like a 1930's Stephanie Plum. Weeeellll, .... not really. There is a bit of humour (mainly from Fig and Georgie's oft wed mother) but definitely not on the level of Evanovich's writing. I did find it amusing how Georgiana's friends applauded her for being able to live without servants -- the fact that she was able to boil water on her own and *gasp* dress herself without help was funny and showed how utterly helpless some royals on their own and how useless their 'education' actually was.

I also enjoyed reading about a time in history that I know very little about. Learning about the times and expectations of people in that period of time as well as the manners that were expected was quite interesting.

I liked the quirky nature of Georgie's family members especially her sister-in-law, Fig, and Georgie's mother. I'm hoping that both these characters pop up more in future books. As for the other secondary characters, they were .... ok but more on the blaw side of ok.

The mystery was good and the author kept me guessing until 3/4 of the way through when I guessed 'who dunnit'. I wish the mystery part of the storyline would have happened earlier in the book. The murder didn't take place until after page 100 which I found odd. The author seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time setting up the story of Georgiana's lack of marriage than she did the mystery. I was hoping that Bowen would use more real history in the storyline like focusing more on Wallace Simpson. I was expecting the mystery to be more about who the Queen asked Georgie to spy on ... not a separate storyline involving Georgie's family.

Overall, a good but light-weight murder mystery. I'm hoping for more oomph in future books. Fans of easy-going mysteries will like this book. If you prefer 'edge of your seat' mysteries this might not be for you.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

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