Saturday, May 11, 2013

Book Review: Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness Mysteries #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Good combination of history with fictitious fun and mystery
Cons: Mystery a bit slow in the first half
The Bottom Line:
Plot builds as it goes
But fun entire way through
I just love Georgie

Lady Georgiana is Flushed from London to Scotland

I would never describe Rhys Bowen's books as dark, but her Royal Spyness series is especially light and fun.  The series follows the misadventures of Lady Georgiana, thirty-fourth in line to the throne of England in 1932.  Of course, the Great Depression has affected even those of the upper class, and Georgie is left trying to find a way to support herself when she has no skills at all.  But it seems that Georgie keeps getting involved in mysteries involving the royal family.  Royal Flush is the third such mystery, and it is just as fun as the previous two.

Lady Georgiana is having a hard time in London.  Thanks to the August heat, she's finding few takers for her house cleaning service.  But she things her friend Belinda has just handed her a winning meal ticket - dinner companion for out of town men.  But advertising it as an escort service proves to be disastrous, and it is strongly suggested that Georgie return home to Scotland avert a royal scandal.

To her surprise, Georgie is greeted at Castle Rannoch with open arms.  Her sister-in-law, Fig, is being driven crazy by a house full of demanding Americans.  Since Her Majesty requested a place for them to stay, Fig can't demand they leave.  So she enlists Georgie's help in running them off.

But the more pressing matter is the accidents that keep happening to the royal family.  It looks like someone is trying to kill off the heirs to the throne.  Worse yet, it might even be someone from the upper class.  Georgie sets out to figure out who it is before things turn deadly.  Can she do it?

One thing that makes this book so much fun are the characters.  Georgie herself is a wonderful mix of intelligence and innocent naivety.  Since she is more on familiar turf here, she is much more confident than we've seen in the past.  Ms. Bowen manages to include the other series regulars in this book.  The potential romance with Darcy is still quite fun.  And I love her relationship with her Granddad.  I felt we really got to know Fig and Binky, Georgie's brother, for the first time here.  They are interesting characters.

This series isn't pure mystery.  If it were, it would be disappointing since the mystery story doesn't really start to get going until the second half of the book.  Instead, it's just as much about Georgie's life with a mystery as an excuse to visit her.  As such, I enjoyed the early stages of the book.  There are some funny moments waiting where we know what's going even if Georgie doesn't.

Once the plot takes over, it becomes quite interesting.  I felt tension really beginning to grow as the accidents keep happening.  The climax was a bit of a surprise, but everything did make sense in the end.  And the final scene was very creative.  I won't soon forget it.

The story is a first person narration.  In this case, it really helps out.  This American gets a much better feel for life in the upper classes of England than I would if an impartial third person were telling the story.  Yet any explanations were given in such an off handed manner I was learning without even realizing it.

And I must admit I have gotten very interested in the monarchy of the period.  I was actually looking on-line to figure out what happens to the characters in this book who are real.

I've always found historical fiction to be a fun way to get interested in history.  Royal Flush has just enough history and mystery to it to keep me entertained and make me want to learn more about the time period.  That makes it a perfect mix.

If you enjoy this book, check out the rest of the Royal Spyness Mysteries in order.

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