Sunday, September 9, 2012

What I Read This Weekend

What I Read This Weekend . . .

Her Royal Spyness (A Royal Spyness Mystery) by Rhys Bowen -- Historical Mystery

Lady Georgiana Rannoch is the great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and thirty-fourth in line for the throne. Of course that means next to nothing when the world is gripped by Depression and one's father inconveniently gambled away the last of the family fortune. Now 21 and finished with her Season, Georgie's brother has cut off her allowance, claiming poverty. Georgie's only other options are to a) marry some Romanian prince with lips like a cod or b) go be a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria's only surviving daughter deep in the country. What would any self-respecting young lady do? Georgie decides to bunk to London where she discovers that living life on her own is not so easy as it seems. She has to muddle through on her own with some help from her very un-Royal commoner grandfather,  her school friend Belinda and a charming Irish rogue named Darcy O'Mara. Then Georgie finds a dead man in the bathtub -  a man who claimed ownership of her family's remaining property. The family motto is "Death before dishonor" so Georgie charges in to keep the family name from being dishonored. In addition to all her problems, the Queen wants Georgie to spy on the Prince of Wales to see how strong a hold that vulgar American Mrs. Simpson has on him. Georgie sets out to solve the mystery, clear her family's name and please the Queen all at the same time. Accident prone Georgie meets with any number of mishaps but when the mishaps become more serious, she's sure someone is out to end her life. Why her? Can't she trust anyone anymore? With sheer pluck and resourcefulness, Georgie will hopefully save the day before it's too late. This story is part Comedy of Manners and part mystery. It's similar in tone to a Regency novel with less romance and more mystery. Georgie is a very lovable character in spite of her occasional bouts of selfishness and pettiness. She's a bit foolish, a bit stubborn and a lot independent. She goes bumbling along in a charming manner. She reminds me of a less juvenile Stephanie Plum back when Stephanie Plum was funny. The mystery is pretty easy to solve but there are plenty of surprises in store for Georgie, even a little romance. I'm not a huge fan of the 1930s. I don't like their casual way of speaking and sometimes the characters share TMI but the elements of upper class society that I know and love from the Regency novels are still there. Also, some of the phrases were used over and over again unnecessarily. Even with a few minor flaws, this novel is frothy and fun. I plan to continue reading the series.

A Royal Pain (A Royal Spyness Mystery) by Rhys Bowen -- Historical Mystery

Lady Georgiana is still in London, trying to make her own way in the world. Another summons from the Queen decides that Georgie is going to play host to Princess Hannelore of Bavaria. The idea is to get Princess Hannelore together with the Prince of Wales in a casual setting and he will be instantly smitten and forget about that Mrs. Simpson woman. Georgie isn't in a position to host visiting royalty but she can't say no to the Queen. She enlists financial support from her brother (read: blackmail) and help from her beloved Grandad and his neighbor to play servants. Piece of cake, right? Wrong. The princess is 18, fresh out of a convent and addicted to American gangster movies. Most of the English she knows is highly inappropriate for royalty! The princess is eager to get out and meet boys while Georgie is nursing a broken heart over the disappearance of Darcy. Their fun is slightly hampered by the princess's chaperone - a stuffy old baroness, but they manage to find a way to evade her.  Georgie has her hands full keeping track of the flirtatious princess and trying to keep the young woman far away from Darcy who has suddenly turned up in London and seems t be enjoying Hanni's company. Hanni also strikes up a friendship with Sidney Roberts, a young member of the Communist party. A series of tragedies could lead to an international incident, and when the Queen asks Georgie to investigate, once again Georgie can not say no. After all, she doesn't want to be responsible for starting another English-German war. This sequel has more tragedy and more mystery than the first book. I couldn't put it down until I knew how it turned out. I guessed at who but was wrong about why. My why would have made more sense but I enjoyed the mystery just the same. The story is still marked by the fun and frivolity of the first. There are many more funny parts, especially most of Hanni's dialogue. Georgie makes some stupid mistakes than she learns from and her feelings for the very unsuitable Darcy become more realized. I absolutely enjoyed this second entry in the series. It reminded me a lot of a period film. I'm not sure that many more would be wise though. I will read on to see how Georgie grows and develops. Fans of the Stephanie Plum series will love this series as well.

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