Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book Review: Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness Mysteries #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Wonderful main character; fun, fun, fun
Cons: Mystery starts slow and is a parallel plot
The Bottom Line:
Mystery okay
So much fun surrounding it
You really won't care

Meet Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie

Five years ago (has it really been that long already?), I started reading Rhys Bowen's books. And over the course of sixteen previous novels, she has kept me entertained and turning pages. That's why I didn't even hesitate when I found out about her third series. I bought Her Royal Spyness as soon as I could. And I'm glad I did.

Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie (Georgie for short) has a problem. She's over the age where she should be married, but she's still single. And her brother has just cut off her allowance.

Now if you're thinking, "No problem, just get a job" then you need a few more details. See, Georgie is thirty-fourth in line for the throne of England and this is 1932 London. Even though she has no money, working is beneath her class. Besides, what can she really do?

Georgie doesn't let that stop her, however. She starts trying her hand at anything she can think of, as anonymously as possible of course. And she may have found the perfect way to make some money to support her self. That is, until she finds a very dead man in her own bathtub. How did he get there? And, more importantly, is Georgie's life in danger?

While I loved this book, I will be the first to admit the mystery itself was a little slow, especially at the beginning. Fortunately, I had a feeling that the first part would focus on setting up the characters and situations, so I was expecting that. Frankly, this book is equally about Georgie's fight for independence and a way to support herself and the mystery. As a result, I found those parts just as entertaining as the twists of the mystery. And once the mystery got going, it held my interest until the end. I was completely stumped, figuring it out only when Georgie did.

With so much of the book riding on Georgie, she has to be a likable character. And she really is. She is lots of fun with a great sense of humor. Her narration had me grinning most of the way through the book. She's just the right mix of upper class and realist to be immediately likable. I absolutely loved following her around.

The rest of the cast are equally well developed. Not that I expect anything less from Ms. Bowen. I found them all to be vivid and memorable. I'm hoping most of them make appearances in the next in the series.

I know practically nothing about England during 1932. However, I felt like I had been there after finishing the book. And I got a fairly accurate glimpse of another time and place. Yet all the facts never slowed the story down. They just helped create Georgie's world.

The book is light and fun. While the mystery sometimes seems to take a back seat to Georgie's life, ultimately, Her Royal Spyness is a very satisfying read.

And once you are hooked, you'll want to read the rest of the Royal Spyness Mysteries in order.

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