Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Twofer Review: Her Royal Spyness & A Royal Pain

A Little Forward: I came across A Royal Pain while trolling the books at the Friends of the Library. I paid 50 cents for the paperback which was in remarkably fine shape and looked to have all the components I love in a book. First of all it’s a cozy mystery, one of my favorite genres, it’s period and full of “bright young things” that made up 1930’s upper crust England. It also has a heroine that is full of smarts and thinks on her feet. I couldn’t wait to dig in and found it to be quite tasty; so much so that I quickly sped to my local Borders for a second helping. There is a third book, Royal Flush, which I am having a little difficulty finding.

Book Description: Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

Meet Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie Rannoch better known to her friends as Georgie. Georgie is the daughter of the late Duke of Glenn Gary and Rannoch and 34th in line of succession to the throne. The Duke unfortunately was a bit of a gambler, committed suicide, and left his family in dire straits which leads Georgie to spread her wings from the quiet Scottish countryside to lively, bustling London.

Georgie describes her life thusly:

There are two disadvantages to being a minor royal.

First one is expected to behave as befits a member of the ruling family, without being given the means to do so. One is expected to kiss babies, open fetes, put in an appearance at Balmoral (suitably kilted), and carry trains at weddings. Ordinary means of employment are frowned upon. One is not, for example, allowed to work on the cosmetics counter at Harrods, as I was about to find out.

Twenty-one year old Georgie has a royal title but not the money that goes along with it. She settles herself in Rannoch House in London and goes about getting herself a job at Harrods but is fired on her very first day. But being ever resourceful, she opens up her own domestic agency, with herself as the only domestic.

Her brother, now the third duke of Glenn Gary, arrives in London with news that he is to meet a rather unsavory character who claims to have proof in writing that the family homestead was gambled away before their father’ s suicide. Just a few days later, Georgie arrives home to find the aforementioned “unsavory character” dead in her bathtub and her brother gone missing. She finds herself in the sticky situation of being the chief suspect until her brother returns to London and is arrested for the murder.

We go along with Georgie as she investigates every nook and cranny to get to the bottom of this disastrous turn of events. She knows one thing, her brother is innocent. Along the way we meet her best friend Belinda, and a few quirky but interesting characters including a romantic interest by way of a wild Irish rogue. But is he behind a series of attempts on Georgie’s life? If not, who is?

Book Description: A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen (book two of the series)

The alarm clock woke Georgie at the ungodly hour of 8 in the morning. If all Georgie had to look forward to was become lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria’s one surviving daughter she might as well go back to sleep. Never mind the dear lady was Georgie’s great aunt but picturing years of walking the Pekinese and holding knitting wool was not Georgie’s cup of tea. Her other option was to marry Prince Siegfried of Romania, he of the fishface and limp handshake. There were just some things this minor royal was not prepared to do for king and country.

A summons to tea at Buck House (as in the palace) sets Georgie’s teeth rattling. What could the queen, also a cousin, possibly want? As it turns out, two things; the first to host a young Bavarian princess at Rannoch House and the second to keep an eye on her son the Prince of Wales who is infatuated with a certain Mrs. Simpson.

The young Princess Hannelore of Bavaria turns out to be a handful prone to using American slang from watching too many gangster movies. The young lady also has a habit of zigging when she should be zagging and sets Georgie to wishing she had said no to her majesty. But who says no to the queen?

When the princess is discovered standing over the body of a young man, a known communist, and holding the murder weapon, the police reach the most obvious conclusion. Ridiculous, Georgie says. But when the princess’s traveling companion is found dead, could the police have been right all along? Georgie’s suspicions are aroused and she launches her own investigation. Can Georgie solve the case or will she only succeed in setting off World War II?

My take: These books came alive for me. Perhaps it comes from years of watching Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery but I could picture every word and description vividly. Lady Georgina literally leapt from the pages so kudos to the author Rhys Bowen. I have a few choice words for this series; charming, delightful, intriguing, unique and most of all, fun. Consider this a serious recommendation for lovers of a great cozy mystery.

The Author: Rhys Bowen has been nominated for every major award in mystery writing, including the Edgar, Agatha and the Anthony. She is also the author of the Molly Murphy Mysteries, set in turn-of-the-century New York, and the Constable Evans Mysteries, set in Wales.

You can visit with Ms. Bowen at her website, Twitter or as one of the resident writers at Jungle Red Writers.


  1. I have found a new author. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. Hi Bonnie...These books sound like fun reads! I'll have to check them out! Thanks for adding BK to your sidebar! He loves to pose! lol Happy week!...hugs...Debbie

  3. Bonnie dearest!
    Thank you for coming by to my writing blog! I am trying now, since I am done with school, to keep up with ALL my blogs! When you mentioned the other day that you had started this wonderful new blog, I knew the feeling.....there just isn't enough space and time to create all the fun we imagine in our minds!!!! Thank you my dearest for being my friend; I am sooooo grateful that our paths have crossed and Ruben as well speaks fondly of you and both of us desire to go to Calif. this summer and make a stop in SD. Will keep you posted.

    Have a lovely evening with Kitty, Sadie and a good book.

    Bisous, Anita

  4. Hey Bon!

    You make me want to run out and buy these books then call in sick to work (cough cough) so I can cozy up with a good read! Just LOVE all the literary cats photos on your new blog! Congratulations on a fabulous start!

    See ya,

  5. Hi Bonnie -I like your blog and am a new follower now. Beautiful kitties.