Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review and Giveaway: Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen

Queen of Hearts
Series:  A Royal Spyness Mystery 8
Publisher:  Berkley, August 4, 2015
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print); $7.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780425260647 (print); 9780698140356 (eBook)
Originally Published:  Hardcover and eBook, August 5, 2014
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

Downton Abbey fans will rejoice for Lady Georgiana Rannoch, thirty-fifth in line for the British throne, who’s off to Hollywood, where she must reprise her role as sleuth…

My mother, the glamorous and much-married actress, is hearing wedding bells once again—which is why she must hop across the pond for a quickie divorce in Reno. To offer my moral support, and since all expenses are paid by her new hubby-to-be, Max, I agree to make the voyage with her.

Crossing the Atlantic, with adventure in the air and wealthy men aboard, Mother meets movie mogul Cy Goldman who insists on casting her in his next picture. Meanwhile, I find myself caught up in the secret investigation of a suspected jewel thief. Lucky for me, the lead investigator happens to be my dashing beau, Darcy!

Mother’s movie and Darcy’s larceny lead everyone to Cy’s Hollywood home, where the likes of Charlie Chaplin are hanging about and there’s enough romantic intrigue to fill a double feature. But we hardly get a chance to work out the sleeping arrangements before Cy turns up dead. As if there wasn’t enough drama already…

Jennifer's Review

Queen of Hearts is the 8th installment in Rhys Bowen’s popular historical/cozy mystery series that follows Lady Georgiana Rannoch, who is thirty-fifth in line for the throne of England in 1934. This time around Georgie is embarking on a journey with her mother that will ultimately take her across the pond to Hollywood, California. Her skills as a sleuth are tested almost from the moment she boards a luxury ocean liner when she finds herself on the trail of a jewel thief, and again, among the blinding glitz of Hollywood as she searches for a murderer.

Georgie is a well-established character. She is bright, curious, and impulsive, which often leads her to dangerous encounters with the criminal element. And while Georgie is a royal, she is also penniless, causing her to find unique ways to support herself. Georgie’s mother, former actress Claire Daniels, is a flighty romantic who can use her feminine wiles expertly to get exactly what she wants, and what she wants now is a quickie divorce from her estranged American husband so she can marry her long-time lover in Germany.

Darcy O’Mara always fits into the storyline. He is Georgie’s secret fiancé and a bit of an adventurer, often taking hazardous government jobs to earn money. Darcy feels they cannot marry until he can financially support in a lifestyle suited to a royal. Their relationship is long running, with many periods where Georgie has no idea where in the world her beloved is, but he always finds her in the end and they make a wonderful crime solving team.

Queenie is Georgie’s undeniably common maid and a character I have never been able to like. She is a horrible maid and often whines about her duties. She is probably meant to be comical in the multitude of mishaps she causes, but her childishness grates on me. Georgie can’t afford a proper maid and also has affection for her despite her many shortcomings, so she keeps her employed, also hoping she will improve. The final character in Georgie’s inner circle is another character that I’ve always had a hard time warming up to, Georgie’s best friend Belinda Warburton-Stoke. She is also impoverished but finds more pleasurable ways to support herself. She is a typical gold digger, always on the hunt for a suitably rich husband, but will readily settle for the temporary support of a sugar daddy. Belinda is very charming, but is the polar opposite of the refined Georgie.

While on the lavish ocean liner, Georgie is introduce to many people who she will meet again once she and her mother reach Hollywood. Cy Goldman is a bombastic movie producer returning to the states from a buying trip to Spain. He is immensely proud of the Hollywood mansion he has been furnishing with authentic Spanish antiques. Unfortunately, Cy does not get to enjoy the relics he has brought home as he is murdered shortly after bringing a large party of friends and employees to the mansion for the weekend including Georgie and her mother, who has agreed to star in a movie for Cy while she awaits her divorce. He is accompanied home by Stella Brightwell, formerly Gertie Oldham, who was once part of an act in England with her sister Flossie, but is now a glamorous movie star and mistress to Cy. Stella and Claire go way back, but neither is particularly happy to see the other, both being a bit narcissistic and demanding. Joining their party is Juan de Castillo, a handsome young Spaniard who is leaving his homeland to become a movie star. While on board the ship, Georgie also runs into an old acquaintance in the form of the clumsy and unappealing Algie Broxley-Foggett, who is being sent to America to make something of himself. Tubby Halliday is a genial young man who just happens to be a reporter looking for salacious stories on board the ship and beyond.

Once in Hollywood, Georgie encounters many more colorful characters, one of whom is the somewhat lecherous Hollywood icon Charlie Chaplin. We are also introduced to Cy Goldman’s dissatisfied wife Helen, who is not at all happy about his many affairs and prolific spending habits. Barbara Kindell is a friend of Helen’s, who is also a gossip columnist looking for a scoop. The role of Hollywood hunk is filled by Craig Hart a stunningly handsome and charming actor under contract with Cy. Ronnie is Cy’s assistant and right hand man, always able to smooth out any wrinkles in Cy’s production company and often his personal life. After the murder takes place, we also meet Sheriff Billings, central castings idea of a down home country police officer. He adds comedy to an already madcap situation.

The historical details of the 1930’s are well researched and marvelously executed. The many subplots flow well into one another and are all satisfyingly resolved throughout the book. The mysteries of the jewel thief and murder are intertwined in a way that makes sense. The novel ends with a spectacular chase and subsequent fire that is exciting and realistic. This is another superb installment in a fun and interesting series.

Note:  You may see Jennifer's review of Malice at the Palace (A Royal Spyness Mystery 9) here.

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen from the publisher. US ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59PM US Eastern Time on August 31, 2015. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

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  1. A Mediterranean cruise would be lovely. thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. Funny, I would pick Alaska as well! Thanks!

  3. I forgot and pressed publish before I could say that I would cruise to Hawaii.

  4. If and it's a very BIG IF, I'd want to cruise the Mediterranean and visit some of the ports there. Try the local foods and enjoy the scenery . .

  5. I'd like to take an Alaskan cruise.

  6. I'm in Florida so I'd probably go Scandinavian.....Iceland, Greenland, Norway...