Book Review: Rhys Bowen’s A Royal Pain

Posted October 26, 2011 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 A Royal Pain

A Royal Pain


Rhys Bowen

historical mystery that was published by Berkley on July 1, 2008 and has 307 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

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, 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, On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service

Second in the Her Royal Spyness mystery series set in the start of the Depression in London and revolving around the Lady Victoria Georgiana “Georgie” Charlotte Eugenie of Glen Garry and Rannoch, 34th from the throne and poorer than a church mouse.

In 2009, A Royal Pain won the Macavity Award for Sue Feder Historical Mystery and was nominated for the Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award; in 2008, it was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best Novel.

My Take

No. This one didn’t work for me. There is no way a young, “innocent” princess is going to be allowed to be so footloose and fancy-free. With no money available to her. Not knowing at least French. Nor can I imagine Queen Mary not paying attention to Georgie’s situation. When the king comments on Mary running a spy network, you know that the queen knows what’s going on around her. Too vague. Bowen keeps mentioning the C.P. initials on a letter in Hanni’s room and there is nothing there for the reader (me!) to latch onto. Even the explanation only made sense for the “p”.

I don’t understand why Bowen has Georgie questioning why Sidney was at Gussie’s party when, at the party, Sidney told her that he did enjoy a good time just like anyone else??? Interesting bit at Cambridge when Edward ran into Saunders about apostles and angels.

It was still a cute beachy sort of read with its insight into how Georgie strives to survive as well as our look inside a country house weekend with its hookups.

The Story

Lady Georgie is still working her job as the sole employee, the maid, in her new business, Coronet Domestics, and it certainly is a chore trying to keep her head down when people she knows book her and she needs to avoid them realizing who she is. The scandal would see her either as the wife of Prince Siegfried of Romania, a.k.a., Fishface, with a predilection for boys or sent to the country as a lady-in-waiting to her great-aunt and spend her life walking Pekinese and holding knitting wool.

Of course, Georgie could scoot back up to the family castle in Scotland but that would mean surviving the company of Fig, her sister-in-law. Laboring as a maid is a much better proposition.

Now, the queen has requested her aid with entertaining this Bavarian princess, Princess Hannelore. A princess who is absolutely fascinated by American gangster movies and from which she appears to have learned all her English. The idea is that David, the heir to the throne, will become infatuated with a young, eligible woman instead of that Simpson creature.

The Characters

Lady Georgiana is a very strong feminine lead whom one simply must admire for her determination to survive. And under some very trying circumstances. She must uphold royal dignity on no income and somehow fulfill Queen Mary’s commands, also on no income.

There are a set of characters which follow the story from book to book with a few new ones thrown in with each new installment. The regulars include her half-brother, Binky, a.k.a., Hamish, the third Duke of Glen Garry and Rannoch who is married to Fig, more properly known as Hilda, who is a major pain and has no class. Their son and heir is Hector, better known as Podge. Georgie has several allies in the background: her Cockney grandfather, a retired policeman living in Essex, who is Georgie’s port in a storm and his neighbor, Mrs. Huggins; Darcy O’Mara, the heir to an impoverished Irish peer; and, her best friend, Belinda Warburton-Stoke who designs dresses by day and crashes parties by evening — couldn’t possibly say by night, as Belinda is usually in someone else’s bed at nights. Queen Mary is family and the one who sends Georgie out on her little errands to spy, primarily on her son, David, and his latest mistress, Mrs. Simpson. Georgie’s mum pops up a couple of times. I really don’t like her. She doesn’t do anything to help Georgie out.

Of the police, Chief Inspector Burnall seems a teeny bit more open to possibilities than Inspector Harry Sugg, an ass to whom Binky manages to slip one.

Then there’s this installment’s characters:Edward “Lunghi Fungy” Fotheringay who is quite the ladies’ man—with no prejudice for a lady’s age either; “Tubby” Tewkesbury; and, Augustus “Gussie” Gormsley threw the party resulting in the first murder. Sidney Roberts is such a lovely man. He may have been a bit enthusiastic about communism but the theory of it is very enticing. His boss at the bookstore was Mr. Solomon. Seems he had more than one career going in that bookstore.

Princess Hannelore of Bavaria with her companion, Baroness Rottenmeister, who doesn’t do much in the way of chaperoning her charge. The baroness is much more interested in being fed.

The Cover and Title

The cover has an Art Deco feel in the window, the maid’s uniform and the furniture and it is obviously Lady Georgiana performing her menial duties as she dusts the gramophone while wearing her maid’s cap, dress, and apron with an opera-length of pearls around her neck. The primary colors are burgundy and a deep Prussian blue while the title is written inside a trimmed ribbon slashing across the bottom of the cover. A truly accurate title for the Princess really is A Royal Pain.