Crowned and Dangerous
This is the tenth entry in the author’s Royal Spyness series, featuring Lady Georgiana Rannoch, thirty-fifth in line to the British throne. The series is primarily set in England between the World Wars and while often touching on darker world events, falls clearly on the side of a light mystery series with numerous touches of humor. Most of the books I’ve read in the series land somewhere in the B or C range, and Crowned and Dangerous is one of my favorites so far.
As the book opens, Georgie and her longstanding beau Darcy O’Mara are heading out of London. Georgie thinks they’re going somewhere for a romantic dinner or to finally have sex but Darcy surprises her and says they’re going to elope to Gretna Green. Because of her position in the line of succession, Georgie would have to jump through several legal hoops to officially marry Darcy, because even though Darcy will eventually inherit a title from his father, it’s an Irish title, and he is a Roman Catholic. He decides they can elope, have sex, not tell anyone they’re married, and then do the official paperwork to make everything legal in England.
Nothing is ever straightforward in Georgie’s world, and instead of getting married, they get caught in a snowstorm. After staying in a horrible inn, Darcy reads in a newspaper that his father has been arrested for the murder of the wealthy American who bought the family castle. Even though Darcy is estranged from his father, he heads off to Ireland to help. Georgie pleads to go with him (after all, she has a lot of experience solving murder mysteries). Darcy refuses, and breaks up with Georgie, not wanting the scandal to taint her.
Over the series we’ve been introduced to a number of often over-the-top characters – both real and fictional – that surround Georgie, and this book is no exception. Soon after she returns to London, Georgie meets the wealthy Princess Zamanska who has a mysterious connection to Darcy. At an odd dinner party hosted by the Princess, Georgie runs into her cousin David (the future Edward VIII) and the awful Mrs. Simpson.
Georgie quickly decides to head off to Ireland to help Darcy, despite his objections. Once there, she jumps into the investigation, and is soon joined by the Princess Zamanska. Georgie quickly realizes Darcy thinks his father is guilty, and his father doesn’t remember what happened. Never one to give up, Georgie insists they investigate and begins to uncover some rather startling information about the dead man. The murder mystery itself is a bit over-the-top, but I liked learning more about Darcy’s background and meeting some of his odd relatives.
Darcy and Georgie are charming characters. They’re both penniless, and neither has a real home. Darcy gets by doing mysterious jobs for mysterious people, and sleeping on the couches of wealthy friends. Georgie’s awful sister-in-law refuses to let her stay with them for more than a few days, so Georgie drifts from place to place. Now admittedly many of the places are pretty spectacular, such as at the beginning of this book, Kensington Palace.
I usually warn readers to start with the first book in a series; I don’t think that’s necessary here. The author gives just enough backstory about the major characters to help those new to the series without overwhelming longtime readers. I wouldn’t want a steady diet of Lady Georgie mysteries, but once a year it’s rather fun to pop in on her and her friends and relatives. I particularly liked that Crowned and Dangerous is set for the most part in Ireland, and can recommend it both to fans of the series and to those who have yet to meet Lady Georgie.