You've got to applaud an author who refuses to rest on her laurels and brings out a new, very different series after
winning awards for her prior ones. A Royal Pain is the second book in Rhys Bowen's lighthearted historical
mystery series set in 1930s London, featuring Lady Georgiana Rannoch. Georgie's social status may place her 34th in
line to the British throne, but her finances have her moonlighting incognito as a sort of specialized house maid.
The first book in the series (also reviewed
on Myshelf.com) was a thoroughgoing romp. This one is still a lot of fun, but also has a bit more depth, as Georgie
moves further away from her sheltered past and strictly personal problems into a real world that includes Depression
victims on the street and preliminaries to what we know would become the Abdication Crisis.
Georgie's financial and social balancing acts are about to reach their own crisis, thanks to Queen Mary. The
Queen may not assume Georgie is living royally, but neither does she have the slightest idea of the realities. So
when she invites a beautiful young German princess to visit, in hopes of luring the Prince of Wales away from Wallis
Simpson, it seems perfectly natural to have the princess stay with someone of similar age and station in life, on
whom the Queen knows she can rely. Georgie can take her out in the right sort of society to meet the prince, without
any offputtingly obvious involvement from the Palace. Problem is, Georgie may be living in the right sort of family
townhouse, but she has no servants, is living on baked beans on toast, and has prior commitments on her time
involving dustpans. Gulp.
Princess Hanni arrives with a demanding snob of a chaperone, a completely unacceptable English vocabulary derived
from American gangster films, the egocentricity of a spoiled child and the morals of a tomcat. Which would be bad
enough, but then Georgie and Hanni find themselves standing over the body of a most unsuitable acquaintance in
absolutely the wrong part of town.
That's just dipping your toe in the shallow end of the plot. There's
a lot more inside, with a go go pace that doesn't stop as Georgie
deals with her domestic problems, her love life, her responsibility
for the royal pain of the title (breeding tells - I'd have killed
her), and trying to solve a murder. But fun though the plot is,
the real fun is in how the story is told. It's a smooth, fast read,
full of varied, vivid and engaging characters who feel like real
people rather than plot place fillers, sparkling with absurdity,
and backed with a solid knowledge of its historical setting. Recommended.
Reviews of other titles in this series
Her Royal Spyness #1 [review]
A Royal Pain #2 [review]
Naughty in Nice
The Twelve Clues of Christmas #6 [review]
Heirs and Graces #7 [review]
Queen of Hearts #8 [review
Malice in the Palace #9 [review]
Crowned and Dangerous #10 [review