A Royal Pain: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

A Royal Mess by Rhys BowenHer Royal Spyness Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie (Georgie to us and most everyone else) is at it again. The year is 1932 and the Queen is at her wit’s end trying to keep her playboy son away from the odious American that is threatening to steal his heart. Georgie, meanwhile, is concerned with more quotidien problems like how to keep her upper crust peers in the dark about her covert maid business, how to keep herself fed, and of course wondering what is to become of her would-be relationship with the deliciously unsuitable Darcy O’Meara.

At least, those are Georgie’s concerns until she is once again summoned by the Queen for a secret mission. This time, the Queen is certain she has a fool proof plan to lure her son away from the clutches of that odious American. All Georgie has to do is entertain a Bavarian princess who will conveniently cross paths with the prince at certain choice social gatherings.

Nothing could be simpler. Until the princess actually arrives. Hanni is anything but demure having culled all of her English (and ideas about English society) from American gangster movies. Worse, Hanni seems to have landed herself and Georgie in the middle of another murder plot making the whole thing a royal mess in A Royal Pain (2008) by Rhys Bowen.

I do enjoy Georgie and her books. She’s a light fun character. However, after reading this second installment I began to wonder if she’s a bit too light. Georgie is very young for a mainstream mystery heroine. And it shows quite a lot in this story where Georgie spends way too much time debating what to do about the matter of her virginity with her worldly (read: annoying) best friend Melinda.

The dynamic in A Royal Pain is also rather different from the first novel with an influx of new characters and a disturbing lack of Darcy. Bowen also seems to be falling into the same traps that ruined her Molly Murphy mysteries for me (which unfortunately I cannot elaborate on because they are spoilers for both series). I started reading these books for something different. Yet despite the divergent time periods and settings and characters, the similarities are very apparent.

The story itself was also truly bizarre. By the end of the book I was reminded of propaganda movies from the 1940s meant to support the war effort, which I suppose is fine. Except that is came out of left field both in terms of the plot and in relation to the larger premise of the series. I was almost surprised to realize the last page did not include an advertisement to buy War Bonds.