Book Review: Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness

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 Her Royal Spyness

Her Royal Spyness


Rhys Bowen

historical mystery that was published by Berkley on July 3, 2007 and has 336 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, 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, On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service

First in the Her Royal Spyness mystery series set in the early 1930s and revolving around the Lady Victoria Georgiana “Georgie” Charlotte Eugenie of Glen Garry and Rannoch, 34th from the throne, second cousin to the king, and utterly fed up with the selfish baiting of her sister-in-law, Fig.

In 2008, Her Royal Spyness won the Arty Award for Best Mystery Novel Cover Art and was nominated for the Macavity Award for Sue Feder Historical Mystery and the Dilys Award; in 2007, it was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best Novel.

My Take

Oh, I like that! Fig is complaining about those horrid Americanisms like “weekend” with a nickname like that?! I do find myself hoping that Fig gets hers.

Bowen is too funny in describing living conditions at Castle Rannoch. When she follows it up with Georgie attempting survival in London at Rannoch House, you both laugh and cry while, at the same time, you can’t help but cheer her on.

Bowen slips some nice bits of history in as well what with Princess Elizabeth’s letterwriting and how very nice her mother, the Duchess, is, while her acid comments on Mrs. Simpson are too funny in a very sad way. I can’t help but think England really was better off not having David as king. The boy was pussy whipped.

I also enjoyed Georgie’s attempts to blend the required poise of a royal with her need to make a living.

I’m looking forward to laughing [& crying] my way through the next in the series, A Royal Pain.

The Story

Besides getting away from Fig and her practical cost-cutting ideas such as using Georgie as a governess for her son, Georgie is also escaping a planned house party to entertain Prince Siegfried of Romania, a.k.a., Fishface. The queen believes he would be an excellent husband for Georgie. All Georgie can say is “ick”.

Unfortunately, Georgie will have even less to work with in London than she did in Scotland. Sure there’s Rannoch House, but it’s been closed up. She hasn’t any money to hire servants, and Fig certainly isn’t going to let Binky open up the pursestrings! So Georgie must learn to do for herself, and she does learn. She learns how very nice she did have it as she figures out how to start up the boiler, make tea, and heat up beans.

The Characters

Poor Georgie. She had her Season and didn’t take. Or, she didn’t take to those who might have been interested. Still she is a royal, however minor, and a “desirable commodity” in making an alliance with Great Britain. Then her father shoots himself due to losing the family fortune in 1929. So, now she’s a “burden” on her poor family. Thankfully, the family coffers can still afford jars and jars of Fortnum’s marmalade for Fig. Mother ran off with a rich playboy years ago. But there’s still her granddad. He may be a retired policeman and live in Essex, but he does love his granddaughter.

Poor Binky is even worse off. Hamish is not too bright and he did get married. To Hilda, a.k.a., Fig. Fortunately, it makes the third Duke of Glen Garry and Rannoch much more sympathetic to Georgie marrying only for love.

Georgie’s best friend from school is Belinda Warburton-Stokes who has sort of landed on her feet in London. Belinda designs dresses. Now, if she could just get her clients to pay for them she could stop relying upon crashing parties and enticing young men into feeding her. Darcy O’Mara is the son and heir of an impoverished Irish peer and seems to get by by crashing those same parties while staying in another friend’s house. Quite a useful bloke when he helps prevent that assassination. Seems to be a good kisser as well!

The Cover and Title

Poor Georgie. All dolled up in her purple fur-trimmed coat with matching cloche stepping out of a limo in a purple shrouded London street…she dreams. I do like the title scrolling across a width of yellow ribbon at the bottom with its frilly purple trim although I’m a bit confused over that to which the title refers as Her Royal Detective might have been more realistic.