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I have always enjoyed Rhys Bowen as a writer. I have read most of her Molly Murphy books and some of the Evan Evans. When I first saw Her Royal Spyness I was intrigued because it looked a lot more light-hearted than her other writings. It turns out to be one of the most delightful series I have read in a long time. Her heroine this time is Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, daughter to the Duke of Glen Garry and Rannoch and thirty-fourth in line to the throne of England. The stories take place in England and Scotland during the 1930s. She comes from an era where people had ridiculous nicknames such as Binky, Fig, and Podge who are her brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. She is called Georgie.

Her Royal Spyness is the first book in the series and it starts off the series beautifully. We meet Georgie who has fled Scotland before she can be married off to Prince Siegfried of Romania commonly called Fish-Face. At the family home in London with no money, no servants, and no prospects she tries out a job at Harrods.  She only lasts a couple of hours losing her job after she insults a customer who happens to be her often married actress mother. She finally realizes she can make money by opening up houses for the wealthy and doing light housekeeping providing she can keep the rich from recognizing her.

Along the way we meet three reoccurring characters Georgie’s school friend Belinda Warburton-Stoke who is a struggling fashion designer, Darcy O’Mara a poor Irish Lord who crashes receptions in order to eat, and Georgie’s Cockney retired policeman Grandfather.  At a wedding reception that Darcy convinced her to crash with him she meets Tristram Hautbois who’s Guardian was once married to Georgie’s mother. Tristram warns Georgie against Darcy and Darcy warns her against Tristram.

Queen Mary decides that Georgie is the perfect person to spy on her son David who has become enamored with Wallis Simpson. She expects her to use her connections to get invited to the same country houses that her son goes to.

A French gambler named deMauxville threatens Georgie and her brother with ruin saying their father gambled away the estates to him and he wants them now. Unfortunately he ends up dead in their bathtub and the Scotland Yard detective decides that Georgie and Binky obviously have to be guilty. The way Georgie tries to prove their innocence, spy on her cousin, tries not to fall in love with Darcy, and escapes various attempts on her life makes this book almost madcap fun.

A Royal Pain finds Georgie still cleaning houses to put food on her table. The Queen decides that the perfect thing to stop her son’s romance with Mrs. Simpson is to get him to fall in love with a German Princess named Hannelore. She instructs Georgie to take the Princess into her house and work on getting her introduced to society. The Princess however has learned most of her English from watching American gangster films. Georgie can’t afford servants and talks her grandfather and his next-door neighbor into playing butler and cook.

In between the light heart writing you also get a glimpse of the world in the midst of a depression. The Princess manages to meet someone who is a member of the Communist Party. You also meet the neo-Nazis who were popular in England at that time.

Belinda takes Georgie and the Princess to a wild party where the liquor flows freely and the cocaine is discreetly sniffed. It seems though where ever the lovely Hannelore goes death comes too. An English heir to a fortune falls over the railing to his death. Darcy gets Georgie and the Princess away before the police arrive. The Communist bookseller ends up dead in the bookstore with the Princess holding the knife. Her governess ends up dead at a country house party.

The Queen decides that Georgie is going to need to solve the mystery and find out what is really going on. It seems a lot of people are about who are not what they really claim to be. One of them of course is Darcy. I really fell in love with the character of Darcy in this book. Rhys Bowen actually has respect for the Irish and it shows in her writing.

The ending came as a real surprise to me. This second book really made me want to get the rest of the series.

Royal Flush finds Georgie’s cleaning business drying up so she decides that she will form a service where people can take out a member of royalty to dinner or the theater. The Royal of course is her. Her first “date” turns out to be a disaster as the man thinks she is running a call girl service. Darcy comes to the rescue and sends her home. The next day Scotland Yard sends her back to Scotland before the press can find out about the previous evening. They also want her to do some spying and try to find out why there have been a rash of accidents against the royal family.

The King and Queen are up at Balmoral and again the Queen is hoping to get Georgie to spy on her son since Mrs. Simpson has wrangled an invitation to stay with Binky at Rannoch Castle. Binky is laid up after he stepped in a trap that was hidden where he normally takes his morning walk.

Up in Scotland Georgie has to deal with her obnoxious sister-in-law Fig. Unfortunately for Fig she needs to be nice to Georgie as she is the only one with Royal connections who can make the hunting party at Castle Rannoch a success hopefully before the cousins and guests eat them out of house and home.

Georgie meets up with her mother, her mother’s German lover, Belinda, Darcy, and Belinda’s new conquest an Italian Count who is into racing. A lady flier makes an appearance. She wants to race the boat on the lake and beat the men at the world record. Georgie’s on and off again relationship with Darcy is strained because she accuses him of telling Scotland Yard about her abortive attempt at escorting.

As we learned in the last book there is a lot more to Darcy than we suspect. Georgie is going to need his help to find out who is trying to kill off the royals including her.

Royal Blood is an absolute hoot. It is the most fun of the series so far. Georgie finds herself as the royal representative for the wedding of Princess Marie Teresa of Transylvania. It turns out the Princess is her school chum Matty and Georgie is to be a member of the wedding party. Georgie finds herself in an old and very spooky castle. The castle apparently once belonged to Vlad the Impaler who of course was the model for Dracula. She tries not to believe in the vampire stories but the place is just so spooky that she believes in spite of herself.

Belinda manages to crash the wedding. Georgie’s mother is also there since her German lover is godfather to the groom. Of course Darcy shows up and Georgie realizes that there are some really sinister things going on with his being there. Georgie also manages to hire the absolute worst ladies maid in existence in Queenie. She burns holes in the clothes, cannot remember to call Georgie my lady, falls asleep on her mistress’s bed, and generally is a disaster from the start. There is something endearing about her though.

 An obnoxious man called Field Marshall Pirin ends up dead and Georgie is drug into a plot to try and keep the death a secret. The man has a lot of power and his death could upset the balance of power. Darcy of course is in the thick of the plot.

A bumbling policeman named Inspector Petrascue immediately accuses Georgie of the death. He is hoping to get her to implicate an old rival named Count Dragomir who runs the castle. Queenie manages to disappear and Darcy does his appearing and disappearing act. Georgie is convinced that a mysterious stranger who appeared suddenly in her room is really a vampire when he disappears without a trace.

This book is just plain fun. Rhys Bowen beautifully sends up the hokey vampire legends.

These then are the first four in the Royal Spyness series. I am waiting for one of the series to come out in paperback next month and I will do a future diary on the next three books. The series is fun. It is light reading and the characters are delightful. I very much fell in love with the plucky Georgie and Darcy is one of my favorite characters. I never could resist a mysterious Irishman.

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