Sunday, April 21, 2013

Book Review: A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness Mysteries #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Interesting characters keep you interested in a fun story
Cons: Mystery starts slowly (but the book is still entertaining)
The Bottom Line:
A fun yet slow start
To a good mystery with
Well drawn characters

Another Mysterious, Comedic Romp with My Favorite Minor Royal

Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie of Glen Garry and Ronnoch, Georgie to her friends, is thirty-fourth in line for the throne of England in 1932. But if you think being a minor royal makes life easy, think again. Since she is single, she has to support herself. And the only way she has found to do that in London is to hire herself out as a maid. But if that isn't bad enough, she often seems to find herself in a spot of trouble. Heck, it's only been a few months since the first book in the series ended, and she is now facing A Royal Pain.

Her Majesty has agreed to host the Bavarian Princess in hopes that this beauty will catch the Crown Prince's eye. And the Queen thinks that Georgie is the perfect person to host Princess "Hanni." Suddenly, Georgie must find a way to hire servants with no money. After all, one doesn't say no to the Queen.

But things only get worse when Hanni arrives. She has learned her English by watching American gangster films. Her companion is an awful Baroness. And wherever Hanni goes, trouble follows. And that's before the first body appears. But the potential political implications of the murder could set the uneasy balance in Europe spinning into another war. Can Georgie solve the crime without starting World War II?

Now if you pick up this book looking for a strict, mystery, you will be highly disappointed. That's because the author expertly blends historical, comedy, and mystery. As a result, the mystery proper takes a while to develop, although a few clues are dropped early in the story. Once the mystery does get going, things become quite interesting quickly. I figured a few things out before Georgie, but I never would have put the entire puzzle together on my own.

But I was never bored waiting for the mystery proper to start. The set up is an absolute riot. I laughed out loud several times and wished I wasn't in public a few other times so I could laugh at the events happening. While the mystery becomes more important in the second half, there are still some funny happenings.

Being an American, I must confess I forget the social upheaval happening in Europe during the 30's. This book was a great way to get a glimpse of just how volatile things were. Obviously, Georgie, Hanni, and most of the cast are fictitious, but a few members of the royal family appear briefly in the pages.

What holds all this together are the memorable characters. Georgie is a very sympathetic heroine. We get to see lots more of her grandfather here, and I absolutely love him. Several other characters return from the previous book, and I enjoyed seeing them again. But the new characters are just as strong. Hanni made me laugh the most, but the Baroness was just as memorable. I had an absolute blast spending time with the entire cast.

The writing makes this a fast, fun read. The first person narration makes it feel like Georgie is telling you a story over a cup of tea.

There is nothing painful about A Royal Pain. So be sure to check out this delightful book.

And once you've met Georgie, you'll want to read the rest of the Royal Spyness Mysteries in order.

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