Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Royal Pain (Her Royal Spyness #2), by Rhys Bowen (author), Katherine Kellgren (narrator)

Audible, Inc., August 2010

Georgie Rannoch is just hoping to get through the summer in London without having to go back to Castle Rannoch and be dependent on her brother and obnoxious sister-in-law. Instead, the Queen summons her to the Buckingham Palace to ask a favor of her--play hostess to Princess Hannelore of Bavaria, who will be arriving soon and whom the Queen hopes will distract the Prince of Wales from the very unsuitable Mrs. Simpson. The Queen imagines that the Princess will be happier with another young person, and that Lady Georgiana will enjoy entertaining her and showing her around, as well as being able to bring her to David's attention without it being obvious that the Queen is pushing this.

She doesn't realize, of course, that Georgie is broke, and supporting herself by moonlighting as a maid.

Georgie gets Fig and Binky to provide some money by threatening to bring Princess Hannelore to Castle Rannoch. She then throws herself on the mercy of her grandfather, who, along with his lady friend Mrs.Huggins, volunteer to be basic staff for Rannoch House--butler and cook. Then it's off to a staffing agency to hire a temporary maid.

When Georgie meets Princess Hannelore--"Hanni"--at the train from Dover, along with her companion the Baroness Rottenmeister, and her maid, Irmgard (I listened to the audiobook, so spellings are in some cases best-guess), she finds Hanni to be a pretty, charming, sweet young innocent who loves American gangster movies--and is possibly too enamored of American gangster slang.

Georgie thinks she has to worry about Hanni not saying something shocking to the Queen--until people start dying. First it's Tubby Tewksbury, who falls from a balcony at a party that Georgie and her friend Belinda take Hanni to. Then it's that nice young man, unfortunately a communist, loosely connected to Belinda and Georgie's set, who is found, stabbed to death in the bookstore where he worked, with Hanni standing over him holding the knife. Since the wound was expert, the work of a trained assassin, it obviously wasn't Hanni, but still, the Queen packs them off to a country house party until the inquest.

And things get worse, and scarier, from there, along with Georgie's ongoing attraction to Darcy O'Mara and doubts about his reliability, and her desperate attempts to keep up appearances without out-running the small contribution that her brother Binky has made.

Georgie is as much fun as ever, and chasing down the clues and piecing them together while trying to cope with her collection of friends, relatives, and acquaintances makes for an entertaining read.

Recommended.

I borrowed this book from a friend.