Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

10161216A colleague suggested this book series to me some time ago, and I’ve actually gotten it from the library a couple of times without really getting into it before it had to go back. I finally got it through Libby last week and jumped in as part of my effort to finish my 2019 reading challenge.

There were a few too many characters introduced at once, which made it hard to keep everyone straight at first, but I loved the setting of London during WWII. Maggie Hope is a compelling protagonist, though her familial struggles were a bit much for one novel, given everything else that was going on. (I really could have done without the vague letters from her aunt about how things were for Maggie’s own good.)

I didn’t totally buy the romance as it felt shoehorned in because there had to be a romance, but I did love her friendships with the others in the office. I loved the way everything resolved and set up Maggie’s new trajectory in service to her country. It didn’t feel totally earned that everyone was protecting her instead of just being misogynist jerks about a woman’s place in the workplace, but I’ll take it.

I’ve already downloaded the next book in the series (there are 8 so far, with a ninth coming in February 2020), so I’m looking forward to catching up with Maggie and seeing what happens next.

Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen

22915531I finished the penultimate book in this series while waiting for jury duty to start and it was the perfect antidote to that experience. Our heroine seems more like the royal descendant she is and there was nary a Fig or Binky to be found. Georgie is tasked with keeping Princess Marina company until her wedding to Prince George. This means living at Kensington Palace, with all its trappings, and any funds need to do what she needs to do. Queenie with her hopeless maid shtick is getting old, but perhaps after the surprise ending/cliffhanger, this will also be changing.

The mystery is resolved rather quickly at the end, almost handwaved away when the perpetrator also dies, but since the victim was peripheral to people in Georgie’s periphery, perhaps that was for the best. There’s really great stuff happening with Georgie and Belinda as well as Georgie and Darcy. There a few odd characters to round things out, but it’s mostly just a page-turning romp, which is exactly what I wanted. Last book (written so far!) starts tomorrow!

A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen

2241722The next installment in the Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie saga is a very quick read, very frothy and enjoyable.

Ordered by the Queen to entertain Princess Hannalore of Bavaria, Georgie has to figure out how to host a royal princess with no staff and no money. Once she works out how to create the illusion of royal living by employing her grandfather and his lady friend, there’s the small matter of people dropping dead everywhere Georgie and Hanni go. Considering Georgie’s past with finding dead people that she didn’t actually kill, this is distressing to her. Additionally, the Queen’s plan for the Prince of Wales to fall for Princess Hannalore instead of Mrs. Simpson doesn’t seem to be working at all.

It seemed pretty obvious who the killer was, but the final twist got me. I also loved the continuance of Georgie’s romance with Darcy O’Malley, who seems to be more than meets the eye. I’ve already ordered the next book in the series and I can’t wait to devour it.

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

383514Earlier this fall, Katia read the latest installment in this series and it looked like a lot of fun. So I grabbed the first novel in this series and fell in love.

Our protagonist is Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, daughter to the Duke of Atholt and Rannoch, who is penniless and stuck in a drafty castle in Scotland with her miserly brother and sister-in-law in 1930s Great Britain. She decides to take things into her own hands and decamp to London. She’s got to find a way to make money and avoid Her Majesty’s plan to send her to her great aunt’s house (the last daughter of Queen Victoria) until she can work out a suitable marriage. Georgie is a plucky heroine, who is ready to roll up her sleeves, despite being 34th in line to the throne. She meets a dashing Irishman who is also titled, but down on his luck and it seems like things are looking up.

But then she comes home from her new job, airing out people’s homes to find a dead man in the bath. Though the killer is rather obvious to the reader, there’s a nice tension between Georgie and her various compatriots as she tries to figure who killed the Frenchman who was trying to take over their castle and who is trying to bump her off as well.

It’s a quick read, full of upper crust parties, boat trips and visits to Buckingham Palace. I’m requesting the next novel in the series right now!

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The Hunt by Jennifer Sturman

7131270This is the last in the series of Rachel Benjamin mysteries and I think it ends in a good place. Also, as a completist, I’m happy that I’m done with the series because I’ve had it with Rachel and her “man problems.” The actual mysteries are fine, but her relationship drama is ridiculous.

This last novel takes place in San Francisco, but except for dropping some tourist attractions (and the horrible misuse of “the” in front of freeway names – I see you Southern California editors!), it feels like it could be set anywhere. Of course, it’s set in San Francisco because our mystery involves a Silicon Valley nerd on the verge of becoming a billionaire with his privacy software. He’s a totally weirdo and Rachel’s friend Hillary is totally going to write an article about him. But then Hillary disappears! Did Iggie kill her? Maybe her hot FBI boyfriend that she broke up with the night before she went missing? Is she even dead? Rachel takes the usual twists and turns to get to the answers and save the day.
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