Book Review: Rhys Bowen’s On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service

Posted August 22, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

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

Book Review: Rhys Bowen’s On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service

On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service


by

Rhys Bowen


historical mystery that was published by Berkley on August 1, 2017 and has 320 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.
four-stars

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Evans Above, Evan Help Us, Evanly Choirs, Bless the Bride, The Last Illusion, Evan and Elle, Naughty in Nice, Evan Can Wait, Evans to Betsy, Evan Only Knows, Her Royal Spyness, A Royal Pain, Royal Flush, Evan's Gate, Royal Blood, Evan Blessed, Evanly Bodies, Rhys Bowen, Hush Now, Don't You Cry, The Twelve Clues of Christmas, The Family Way, Heirs and Graces, Queen of Hearts, Malice at the Palace, Crowned and Dangerous

Eleventh in the Her Royal Spyness cozy historical mystery series and revolving around the Lady Georgiana Rannoch…who’s poor as a churchmouse even if she is in line for the throne.

My Take

All that bed-hopping isn’t good for your sanity, as several of the ladies discover. Combine that with impending war with Germany and the secret machinations taking place behind the scenes, even as Her Majesty, Queen Mary, frets over her son’s worrisome affair with Wallis Simpson, and you’ll be reading of a frightful sort of house party, and all from Georgie’s perspective using first-person protagonist point-of-view.

It’s an interesting mix of characters with the core cast from the series, although Lord Kilhenny and his relatives are relatively new to it. This new development makes me hope for some peace and security for Georgie. I am wondering if Georgie will end up helping Darcy out on some of his future missions once they’re wed? Wallis is her usual nasty self while Mummy is also her usual self-absorbed self. Willing to help her daughter out if Georgie does something for her first, oy.

Granddad has some interesting news that takes Georgie aback. Way back. It should be interesting to see where Bowen goes with this…especially when you read of Claire’s reaction, lol. When Georgie realizes what it will mean for her and Queenie, oh man, that should be a pip, *more laughter*.

The characters unique to this story are a mix of Georgie’s past and part of the threat of war.

I love that Georgie is finally getting some gumption: snarking at the odious Fig and standing up for herself with the Queen.

Mussolini and Hitler are mentioned and do have an influence on the storyline. It certainly provides Georgie with a good line to use on David!

The Story

There’s not much point to hanging about in Kilhenny Castle with Darcy off on another mission, and when Georgie gets a request form the Queen and Belinda, she’s off and running.

It seems that Her Majesty is concerned about rumors of her son’s plans and needs someone to peek in on what’s happening, lest his antics blow up in the Royal Family’s faces.

And they’re right to be worried, only it’s not Wallis Simpson they need worry about!

The Characters

Lady Georgiana Rannoch is thirty-fifth in line for the throne and the constitution forbids an heir to marry a Catholic. Kathleen is an Irish girl from Kilhenny Village who is Georgie’s new maid. She won’t be lasting long. Claire is Georgie’s very absentee mother. She was an actress before she caught the duke’s eye but ran off after a few years and does nothing for her daughter. Claire is currently living with Max von Strohheim, a German industrialist. Albert Spinks, Georgie’s maternal granddad, is a retired seventy-five-year-old policeman living in Essex and next door to Mrs. Huggins, his overly interested neighbor.

Her brother, Binky, is the current Duke of Rannoch and is married to the horrid Fig. Podge is their young son and heir, and Adelaide is their very young daughter. Hamilton is the London butler; Jamie is the absent footman. Maude is Fig’s parsimonious sister with the “villa” on the Riviera.

Darcy O’Mara, a Catholic and Georgie’s fiancé, is the son of an impoverished Irish lord, and he spies for the English. Thaddeus, Lord Kilhenny, is his father who managed to buy back the ancestral home. The Polish Princess Zou Zou Zamanska bought the Kilhenny stables…and is in love with Kilhenny who loves her back, but neither has dared say anything. She’s off on a ’round-the-world air race. Mrs. McCarthy is the castle housekeeper. Sir Dooley and Oona, Lady Whyte, live at Mountjoy and are Darcy’s eccentric great-uncle and -aunt who have employed Georgie’s former (and inept) maid, Queenie, as an undercook.

Queen Mary is married to King George, Georgie’s second cousin. Another cousin is David, the Prince of Wales, who is under Wallis Simpson’s thumb. Bertie is the spare with a core of iron.

Stresa, Italy, is…

…a city near Lake Maggiore where Belinda and Contessa di Martini live. Assistant Chief Romeo Stratiacelli is with the Stresa police department. Dottor Falco will examine the body. Bernardo and Giancosimo are fellow policemen.

Belinda Warburton-Stoke is Georgie’s oldest and dearest friend, who is, um, in the family way…and NOT married!! She’s hiding out in an Italian villa until she delivers. Francesca is the daily who comes in to cook and clean. Giovanna is Francesca’s granddaughter.

Camilla “Cami-Knickers” Waddell-Walker was at school with Georgie and Belinda — a more strait-laced girl you never saw who tattled on the two of them every chance she got. She is now married to Paolo, Count di Marola and Martini. The race car driver with whom Belinda had been so in love. Paolo’s mother, Angelina, is a nasty rude old witch. Paolo’s uncle, Count Cosimo di Marola, is right-hand man to King Victor Emmanuel and advisor to Il Duce (Mussolini). Father Francesco/Francisco is the family priest.

The house party at Villa Fiori
Count Rudolf “Rudi” von Rosskopf is a man-on-the-town who sees every woman as prey. General Spitz-Blitzen is one of Hitler’s top military strategists; Lieutenant Fritz Klinker is his adjutant.

Gerda Stretzl is Camilla’s very efficient Austrian maid who helps Georgie with her clothes, etc. Monique, Camilla’s former maid, is recently deceased. Raimondo is a footman. Umberto is the family butler. Signora Follini is the housekeeper and very careful with the keys.

Pierre is the concierge on the train.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a cheery slightly grayed-down range of greens, purples, and peaches, primarily in a sort of woodcut of the gardens at Villa Fiore with their well-trimmed topiaries and view of the lake along with the little marble temple where the gentlemen went to “smoke”. Georgie, in a white dress with short, puffed sleeves, is viewed kicking back in a chair on the terrace, her blonde, bobbed head looking back to see who might be watching, as she searches through a book. The author’s name is writ large in a deep purple font in the pale blue sky while the same purple is the background of the riband edged in a gold picot trim on which sits the the scripted title in the same gold with the series information below it in white. I did enjoy that touch of lilac hydrangeas popping up above and below the riband.

The title is indeed what Lady Georgie is about, On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service.

four-stars