Yup, a Royal Spyness Mystery. Get it? Like a Royal Highness but its a mystery so she’s a Spyness?
I grabbed Rhys Bowen’s Royal Blood at the Library Sale a few weeks back. I liked the cover. This is a common failing of mine. Sometimes it works out, other times it doesn’t. This time, I think, it fell somewhere in between.
This is the 4th book in a series and it’s one of those times where the references to what’s come before creep in all over the place. Clearly to really enjoy this book, I should have read the three before. But I didn’t so I just tried not to pay too close attention to all the references to things that I’d missed.
Lady Georgiana Rannoch is 34th in line to the British throne, who’s family has fallen on hard times. They haven’t yet had to sell their family seat, Rannoch House in Scotland, but they’re not far off. So when Queen Mary (the story takes place in the early 1930s) wants to have lunch with Lady Georgiana (Georgie), curiosity and the promise of a free meal get the better of her and she goes. Turns out there is a wedding between the Prince of Bulgaria and the Princess of Romania and Queen Mary would like Georgie to represent the Royal Family. Evidently the bride is someone that Georgie went to school with and, although Georgie can’t remember any Princess friends, she is going to be a bridesmaid.
There’s the small matter of a lady’s maid – Georgie needs to bring her own but she doesn’t have one or the money to find one. She ends up finding one that is totally unfit and this is supposed to lead to all kinds of hilarity. She ends up on the train to Transylvania with a chaperone that is used to all kinds of adventure, being married to an ambassador in the Middle East.
By the time they get to the castle, which is predictably reminiscent of the seat of Count Dracula, you’re kind of hoping that the mystery part starts already. And still, it doesn’t. There are rounds of introductions to make, gowns to wear, and political situations to build up. The bride’s brother is the detestable Prince Siegfried who, I gather, Georgie was supposed to marry at some point to save her family’s fortunes and all that.
I love a good mystery and this is not a good mystery. It’s fun at times, the characters are good for a chuckle but I found myself completely distracted by the constant reminders that it was the 1930s. You know how sometimes you read a story in a different time and it’s perfectly obvious but never outrightly declared? And then there are those times when the story tries too hard to remind you about the fact that it’s a different time? This was the latter.
Despite all that, when I was able to sit for a while and read undisturbed, we finally started getting somewhere and I found myself enjoying it. Totally accidentally of course. But it isn’t one that I’m pining for now and I probably won’t try to track down any of the other books in the series.