Heirs and Graces by Rhys Bowen

Happy New Year and welcome to 2017! I hope to add more than just book reviews to the blog this year, but it seems like I start every year with good intentions and it never follows. We’ll see!

15808340Book #7 in the “Her Royal Spyness” series is a great read with a well-formed mystery. Ditched by her mum, Georgie turns to the palace for help and they send her with a former lady-in-waiting to Georgie’s grandmama (Queen Victoria’s daughter) to help a recently found heir-to-the-dukedom from Australia. Trust me, it makes sense when you’re reading it! The mean person that everyone wishes was dead doesn’t actually turn up so until about 40% of the way through the book, which really allows us to get to know the family and the dynamics. Additionally, now that Darcy and Georgiana are (secretly) engaged, their relationship really works. If he’s disappearing she knows why and when, and he’s disappearing a lot less often. Much nicer to read about!

As far as the actual “whodunit,” I have to say, I was fooled until the end. And Ms. Bowen really got me going with some of the red herrings she dropped, so I definitely felt I had it figured out. I would prefer that whenever Georgie figures it out that the person who DID actually do it stop trying to kill her when she confronts them. I actually didn’t want this one to end as I’d gotten attached to the young people in the book and wanted to know how they will get on now that the murderer has been found. Ah well!

The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen

13542533Brilliantly timed, the next book in the “Her Royal Spyness”series is set at Christmas. Our heroine, Georgie, has been stuck in Scotland all summer and all fall, trying to “cheer up” her beastly SIL, Fig, who seems like she actually has postpartum depression, following the birth of Georgie’s niece. Not wanting to spend Christmas in a drafty castle with Fig’s whole family, Georgie finds a paying gig as a “hostess” for a lady in Devon who is hosting a proper English Christmas Party. Georgie soon finds out that the lady is actually charging her guests for the experience, so Georgie really helping make it run smoothly for the younger guests. Georgie’s Mr. Darcy O’Mara shows up as the lady of the house is also his aunt. As usually follows with our young, British aristocratic Jessica Fletcher, people start dying when she arrives. At first the deaths seem like accidents, but for the small town called Tiddleton-under-Lovey, a death a day starts to add up and all is not what it seems.

I had a great time trying to figure out Who Dunit and How They Dunit and the Christmas theme was just divine. It also helped that after six books, we start to get some resolution between Georgie and Darcy! He actually seems into her for her for the first time and not just a guy who happens upon her while on assignment for someone else.

I’ve got the next book ready to go over break. The final three after that are waiting for me that the library, but I didn’t get there before they closed, so they’ll have to wait until 2017!

Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen

10634238Another pleasant installment in the “Royal Spyness” series, this time taking place in Nice, France. Our heroine, Georgie, ends up the suspect in a robbery and a murder, while being romanced by a Marquis, who might not be who everyone thinks he is. Along the way, she meets up with Coco Chanel, who thinks she’s the perfect model for her collection. There are also a few mentions of German political newcomer, Hitler, which take on a new meaning in this political climate.

I’ve already order the next two books in the series to see what happens next to our 34th in line to the throne!

The Boy Is Back by Meg Cabot

28693701My first forays into chick lit when I was just out of high school were written by Meg Cabot. She hasn’t written any adult novels in a while, so when I found out that there was a third book in the “Boy” series coming out, I jumped on it.

My favorite thing about these books is how the story is told completely through non-narrative means – text messages, journal entries, product reviews, chat apps, newspaper articles and even a self-transcribing app that happens to record a conversation after a reporter tries to use it for an interview. The first two books also used things like making notes on receipts and napkins, which I briefly took up in my own journal. The book just flies by because there are no chapters, just breaks between storytelling devices. Even the longest text exchange is only a few pages, so you just want to keep reading.

Anyway, given that I haven’t read the other two books in more than ten years, I don’t think this book is actually related to the others, except in the way the story is told. Prominent citizens in a small town in Indiana are arrested after trying to pay for their meal with a postage stamp. What follows is the three adult children trying to take care of the fallout without killing their parents or each other. And the person they hire to help out used to date the youngest son in high school – and it did NOT end well. Luckily, it seems like the elder Stewarts aren’t actually in ill-health, but do need help, so it’s more funny than depressing (especially given the last couple years of my life).

I really enjoyed this book and I hope that Ms. Cabot will come back to adult fiction sooner rather than later because she’s been sorely missing on my bookshelf!

Technical Hitch by Jane Sigaloff

358914This book has been on my TBR list for a long time as it’s published by the now-shuttered Red Dress Ink imprint, which was my chick lit reading list 10 years ago. I don’t know if I’ve moved on or if the book quality was part of the reason this imprint hasn’t survived, but my main reaction to this book was – meh.

Our main characters are Jessica James, wedding planner, who gets “cold feet” just hours before her own wedding and then spends most of the book thinking she might have made a mistake, and Emma Carlisle, who got married to the biggest movie star because her boss (and her new husband, Jack’s publicist) suggested that it would be a good idea. But maybe they’ll fall in love anyway? Plus, Jessica’s BFF (who happens to be the sister of Jessica’s would-be groom) is always lovelorn, until she suddenly isn’t and they’re getting married – yay? Also there’s some business about how Jessica’s sister might not be legally married to her husband because they got married abroad and all the sister is whining about is the “illegitimacy” of their baby. Just…okay.

If it sounds pretty ridiculous, it basically is. There’s no one to really root for and everyone was annoying me. But it was a quick read once I finally sat down to read it, so there’s that.

Speaking of, as I’m not going to make my original goal of 30 books this year (I keep getting distracted!), but I’m going to try to finish up strong with 26, which works out to a book every 3 days this month. Crazy? Possibly, but you know how competitive I am, so let’s do this!