Author: Rhys Bowen

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Oct 17

Heirs and Graces (Her Royal Spyness #7)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Heirs and Graces (Her Royal Spyness #7)Heirs and Graces (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #7) by Rhys Bowen
Published by The Berkley Publishing Group on August 6, 2013
Genres: Cozy, Historical, Mystery
Pages: 295
Goodreadsfour-stars

As thirty-fifth in line for the throne, Lady Georgiana Rannoch may not be the most sophisticated young woman, but she knows her table manners. It's forks on the left, knives on the right, not in His Majesty's back.

Here I am thinking the education I received at my posh Swiss finishing school would never come in handy. And while it hasn't landed me a job, or a husband, it has convinced Her Majesty the Queen, and the Dowager Duchess to enlist my help. I have been entrusted with grooming Jack Altringham, the Duke's newly discovered heir fresh from the Outback of Australia, for high society.

The upside is I am to live in luxury at one of England's most gorgeous stately homes. But upon arrival at Kingsdowne Place, my dearest Darcy has been sent to fetch Jack, leaving me stuck in a manor full of miscreants, none of whom are too pleased with the discovery of my new ward.

And no sooner has the lad been retrieved than the Duke announces he wants to choose his own heir. With the house in a hubbub over the news, Jack's hunting knife somehow finds its way into the Duke's back. Eyes fall, backs turn, and fingers point to the young heir. As if the rascal wasn't enough of a handful, now he's suspected of murder. Jack may be wild, but I'd bet the crown jewels it wasn't he who killed the Duke.

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Heirs and Graces is the 7th in Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series, and I’m happy to say it continued in the vein of the 6th book, which I think was the best in the series so far.

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“Nothing more dangerous than an educated woman.”

Things I Liked

  • We got more of Darcy and Georgie together! This made me so happy, as I feel like Darcy was really in the background unnecessarily for several books.
  • Jack, the Australian heir, was a breath of fresh air to the stodgy British household of his grandmother. I loved it.
  • The mystery was one of those that was clearly a framing of another person from the very start, but I was really unsure of who I liked for the actual culprit until much closer to the end. I love mysteries like this, because it’s just not as much fun if you figure it out a quarter of the way through the book!

Overall 4/5 Stars

  • This was another solid addition to the series! Nothing spectacular, but a very enjoyable read with mostly characters we’re familiar with – which is exactly what I want out of a cozy mystery!

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four-stars

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Oct 10

The Twelve Clues of Christmas (Her Royal Spyness #6)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

The Twelve Clues of Christmas (Her Royal Spyness #6)The Twelve Clues of Christmas (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #6) by Rhys Bowen
Published by Berkley on November 6, 2012
Genres: Cozy, Historical, Mystery
Pages: 311
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsfour-stars

She may be thirty-fifth in line for the throne, but Lady Georgiana Rannoch cannot wait to ring in the New Year—before a Christmas killer wrings another neck…   On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—well, actually, my true love, Darcy O’Mara, is spending a feliz navidad tramping around South America. Meanwhile Mummy is holed up in a tiny village called Tiddleton-under-Lovey with that droll Noel Coward! And I’m snowed in at Castle Rannoch with my bumbling brother, Binky, and sourpuss sister-in-law, Fig.   So it’s a miracle when I contrive to land a position as hostess to a posh holiday party in Tiddleton. The village is like something out of A Christmas Carol! But no sooner have I arrived than a neighborhood nuisance, a fellow named Freddie, falls out of a tree dead.  On my second day, another so-called accident results in a death – and there’s yet another on my third.  Perhaps a recent prison break could have something to do with it…that, or a long-standing witch’s curse. But after Darcy shows up beneath the mistletoe, anything could be possible in this wicked wonderland.

Includes an English Christmas companion, full of holiday recipes, games, and more!

The Twelve Clues of Christmas completely rekindled my interest in this series! I was starting to debate whether or not I wanted to continue with this series after Naughty in Nice, which was lighthearted and fun but not much mystery or substance and nothing really progressed in the main plot. I’m so glad I kept reading! Book 6 was soooo much better. There was a real mystery in this one, and things kept happening at such a pace I could barely put it down and even though I had suspicions about the killer throughout the book I didn’t actually figure it out until about the last third.

Things I Liked

  • Darcy had some more page time! He and Georgie seemed to work things out a little better and I liked that.
  • Georgie is, per usual, trying to find somewhere to live and somehow to support herself and this time instead of the queen coming through with an “assignment,” she actually finds a job that suits both herself and the royal relatives. Her mother just happens to be nearby, being her usual flighty but charming self.
  • The murders – yes, more than one this time – just kept coming and getting stranger and…is it weird that I really liked that? 😛

Things I Didn’t Like

  • Thoroughly enjoyed this one, honestly, but some of it still felt a little unrealistic and a tiny bit corny. I think it’s really hard for cozy mysteries to avoid that entirely.
  • Georgie, for all her talk about wishing she was more experienced in the ways of the world and envying her carefree friend Belinda, is ridiculously straitlaced. I guess I shouldn’t be expecting anything else, given how careful she is to not bring any shame to the royal family, but still. Then again, maybe her character is written that way to keep the story’s romance in the “sweet” category.

If You Like…

…the Amelia Peabody series, or the Maisie Dobbs series, you’ll probably enjoy the Her Royal Spyness series as well!

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Oct 03

Naughty in Nice (Her Royal Spyness #5)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★½

Naughty in Nice (Her Royal Spyness #5)Naughty in Nice (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #5) by Rhys Bowen
Published by Berkley Books on September 6, 2011
Genres: Cozy, Historical, Mystery
Pages: 328
Goodreadsthree-half-stars

The national bestselling author of Royal Blood whisks her heroine away to the French Riviera for fun-and danger. Lady Georgiana Rannoch has once again been called into service by Her Majesty the Queen. This time she's sent to Nice on a secret assignment that's nothing to sneeze at-recover the Queen's stolen snuff box.

As much of an honor as it is to be trusted by Her Majesty, an even greater honor awaits Georgie in Nice-as Coco Chanel herself asks Georgie to model her latest fashion. But when a necklace belonging to the Queen is stolen on the catwalk, Georgie has to find two priceless items-and solve a murder. How's a girl to find any time to go to the casino?

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“Please don’t go and die on me, my lady,” she said. “If you go and die, nobody else will employ me, as you bloody well know.”

If you haven’t read the previous books in this series, they are very enjoyable cozy mysteries with a long-running plot regarding the main characters, and I highly recommend you start with the first book, Her Royal Spyness. 🙂 I apparently started up reviewing this series under the impression I had already posted reviews of the first three books, and I have not. Bad book blogger. I do have a review up of the 4th book, but that’s not very helpful…sigh. I will remedy that shortly, but it has been a VERY long time since I read those!

Things I Liked

  • Georgie seemed to come a little more into her own in this one, become a little less of the naive schoolgirl. I was happy to see her lose a little of her reserve, even if it ended up being a moot point.
  • Even though most of her family things of Georgie as an ornament at best and a useless nuisance at worst, the Queen somehow thinks the world of her and sends her off on these strange and sometimes exotic assignments…always “cracking” fun!
  • I love how Rhys Bowen brings actual historical figures into her books, like Coco Chanel in this one. Even though of course it’s still fiction, it’s fun to imagine them as they might have lived and acted.
  • We also got a little more of a glimpse into Georgie’s long-dead father’s life, in a rather SHOCKING reveal at the very end! Holy crap. I really hope something plays out of that in future books.
  • There were a lot of witty moments and in this one, which one expects from Rhys Bowen, but this story seemed to have more than the usual number of zingers.

How Binky could have plucked up enough courage to have created a first child with Fig is still a matter of speculation. Why he did it a second time indicates insanity in the family.

Things I Didn’t Like

  • Can Darcy never give Georgie straight answers? I mean, he seems to like her well enough, why not trust her a little? And why does he keep showing up in these strange places and making her question his regard for her?
  • The mystery aspect seemed slightly lacking in this one, but I was interested enough in Georgia’s doings with her mother and her friend Belinda, and also the general atmosphere, to keep reading.
  • This one just seemed to flounder a bit. Still enjoyable, but without the best punch.

If You Like…

…the Amelia Peabody series, or the Maisie Dobbs series, you’ll probably enjoy the Her Royal Spyness series as well!

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Feb 26

The Victory Garden Review

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

The Victory Garden ReviewThe Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen
Published by Lake Union Publishing on February 12, 2019
Pages: 368
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsfour-stars

From the bestselling author of The Tuscan Child comes a beautiful and heart-rending novel of a woman’s love and sacrifice during the First World War.

As the Great War continues to take its toll, headstrong twenty-one-year-old Emily Bryce is determined to contribute to the war effort. She is convinced by a cheeky and handsome Australian pilot that she can do more, and it is not long before she falls in love with him and accepts his proposal of marriage.

When he is sent back to the front, Emily volunteers as a “land girl,” tending to the neglected grounds of a large Devonshire estate. It’s here that Emily discovers the long-forgotten journals of a medicine woman who devoted her life to her herbal garden. The journals inspire Emily, and in the wake of devastating news, they are her saving grace. Emily’s lover has not only died a hero but has left her terrified—and with child. Since no one knows that Emily was never married, she adopts the charade of a war widow.

As Emily learns more about the volatile power of healing with herbs, the found journals will bring her to the brink of disaster, but may open a path to her destiny.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Victory Garden is a poignant, sweet book that takes place at the end of WWI in England. Emily is just turning twenty-one as the book starts, and she at last has the legal standing to shake off her overprotective parents and really DO something for the war effort. Having already lost her brother, she feels the need to do something to honor him.

“I want to be useful. I want to do my bit, so that Freddie’s death was somehow not in vain.”

In the process of finding how she is going to do her bit, she (naturally) meets a dashing young pilot (Australian! Gasp!), falls in love, her lover dies a hero, and it turns out she’s pregnant.

All this is revealed in the blurb, so I picked it up thinking that it had to be more than just a romance since…well, you know. Hard to have a romance when one party is deceased, however heroically.

The “more” turns out to be the massive amount of growth and experience Emily goes through in less than a year. She becomes a “land girl,” – something I was not familiar with at all, and I think many Americans would be there with me. She stands up to her parents, who despite being protective are just as much about their own egos as they are about shielding her from heartbreak. She takes a chance on love, knowing that it will most likely end in heartbreak. In the process, she discovers the power of both independence and female friendships. Britain lost a large majority of their fighting age men in WWI, something I hadn’t honestly given much thought.  The story really shows just how that loss changed – or at least how it began to change – societal roles for both genders.

The Victory Garden isn’t particular heavy on either history or romance. In fact, there could have been less of a romance and the story would have worked just as well. I knew going in that Emily’s dashing aviator was going to pass, as so many of them did at that time, so I went in willing myself to not get too invested. The history was interesting but not overwhelming in detail.

As far as the actual garden, there was SOME emphasis on it in the last half of the book, and a little tiny bit of a mystery involving an old journal Emily finds, but it was very…well, I wish had been more about the herbs and the garden. It seems like the title is a bit of a misnomer. 😛

Overall, 4/5 stars. I closed the book feeling a little sad, but hopeful for Emily’s future with her child.

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four-stars

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