Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book Review: Heirs and Graces by Rhys Bowen


As thirty-fifth in line for the throne, Lady Georgiana Rannoch may not be the most sophisticated young woman, but she knows her table manners. It’s forks on the left, knives on the right—not in His Majesty’s back…

Here I am thinking the education I received at my posh Swiss finishing school would never come in handy. And while it hasn’t landed me a job, or a husband, it has convinced Her Majesty the Queen and the Dowager Duchess to enlist my help. I have been entrusted with grooming Jack Altringham—the Duke’s newly discovered heir fresh from the Outback of Australia—for high society.

The upside is I am to live in luxury at one of England’s most gorgeous stately homes. But upon arrival at Kingsdowne Place, my dearest Darcy has been sent to fetch Jack, leaving me stuck in a manor full of miscreants…none of whom are too pleased with the discovery of my new ward.

And no sooner has the lad been retrieved than the Duke announces he wants to choose his own heir. With the house in a hubbub over the news, Jack’s hunting knife somehow finds its way into the Duke’s back. Eyes fall, backs turn, and fingers point to the young heir. As if the rascal wasn’t enough of a handful, now he’s suspected of murder. Jack may be wild, but I’d bet the crown jewels it wasn’t he who killed the Duke…

Berkeley Hardcover | August 6, 2013 | 304 pages | ISBN: 978-0425260029

My Review:

Heirs and Graces, the seventh installment in Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness mystery series, finds Lady Georgiana Rannoch at Kingsdowne Place, the home of the Duke of Eynsford, in 1934. The Duke’s mother has recruited Georgie to educate her son’s recently discovered heir, Jack, in the ways of high society. This task is not without considerable challenges given that Jack has only recently arrived from the Australian Outback, where he was raised. Georgie, however, is soon confronted with a bigger challenge when the Duke is found dead with Jack’s knife stuck in his back. While it appears that Jack has the most reason to want the Duke dead, Georgie is convinced that he isn’t the culprit. Can the real murderer be found before it’s too late?

In Heirs and Graces Rhys Bowen once again delivers a fun and clever read. Lady Georgiana is one of the most refreshing heroines in historical fiction. She’s intelligent, sensible, and portrayed in a manner consistent with the fact that she’s the daughter of a duke and a member of Britain’s royal family. Like its predecessors, Heirs and Graces is full of quirky and eccentric characters both old and new, many of whom are easy to love, including Georgie’s non-aristocratic grandfather. Darcy O’Mara, Georgie’s longtime love interest, also makes an appearance. One of my favourite aspects of this series, which is reflected in this novel, is that rather than overshadowing the main plot Georgie and Darcy’s relationship complements it. The mystery itself is well developed and, even though there are a number of clues pointing to the murderer’s true identify sprinkled throughout the book, the ultimate resolution is still unexpected.

Overall, Heirs and Graces is as great addition to the Royal Spyness series.

Note: This review first appeared in Historical Novels Review (Issue 66, November 2013).  I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

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