Saturday, June 1, 2013

Book Review: Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness #4)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Wonderful characters and a fun story...
Cons: ...that's slow to get started
The Bottom Line:
Story's slow to start
But fun once it gets going
Georgie's always fun

Murder in a Transylvania Castle.  So, Was It a Vampire?

Life doesn't seem to ever be boring for Lady Georgiana Rannoch, thirty-fourth in line for the throne of England in 1932.  Royal Blood is the fourth tale of her adventures and misadventures trying to support herself during The Great Depression.  Since she doesn't have any real skills, it is hard.  And her habit of finding danger certainly doesn't help.

Winter is setting in, and Lady Georgiana is trying to figure out how she will survive the coming months without an income.  But her immediately problems are solved when the Queen asks "Georgie" to be the family representative at a royal wedding.  In fact, the bride is an old school friend and has asked Georgie to be one of the bridesmaids.  There's just the little matter of finding a maid willing to work for free to accompany her.  Georgie finds the worst maid imaginable, but desperate, they set off together.

The wedding is to take place at a remote castle in Transylvania, a castle that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler.  Georgie doesn't believe in vampires, but she has just arrived when she sees someone climbing up the castle wall.  Then people are appearing and disappearing from her room.  She is quite spooked before someone keels over dead.  The death has deep political implications.  But was it a vampire or is the killer all too human?

Those already familiar with the series, don't worry.  The book hasn't lost its comic touch.  In fact, despite the cold and gothic castle setting, it spoofs vampires more than it takes them seriously.  I was grinning or laughing at various times throughout the course of the book.  The writing, with Georgie's first person narration, flows well, making this a fast read that is over all too soon.

The mystery is often slow to get started in this series, and here that is more the case than normal.  The book starts off in England, giving us a chance to get some updates and cameos from series regulars there before setting off for the main event in Transylvania.  Once we arrive at the castle, things do begin to pick up, however.  I quickly got caught up in the mystery, and the ending actually surprised me.

Since this if the fourth book in the series, I love these characters.  I didn't find the time spent in London that boring since I enjoyed finding out what is happening to some of the series regulars who aren't a major part of the story.  Although you might be surprised who all shows up at the wedding before the book is over.  I know I was.  These characters continue to be strong and provide some good laughs.  There are quite a few new characters as well, and I never had a hard time keeping them straight.  They were real enough to make me care about the outcome.  And if a few showed up again in future books, I certainly wouldn't complain.

Royal Blood may take a while to get going, but it is always a delight to read.  I can't wait for my next visit with Lady Georgiana.

Once you get started, you'll want to read the rest of the Royal Spyness Mysteries in order.

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