In the interest of full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest and fair review.
I first discovered Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness series during an Audible sale last year. It was absolutely love at first sight. In a matter of months, I read and/or listened to all 8 books in the series- and the novella Masked Ball at Broxley Manor.
For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the series, allow me to offer a brief explanation: Georgiana Rannoch is a young woman who is 35th (or so) in line for the British throne. Her brother is a duke, but the family fortune has been spent, and they all live in genteel poverty. Georgie is a particular favorite of Queen Mary (George V’s wife), and she is often called in to discreetly solve a problem on the behalf of the Queen. Georgie is resourceful and has a good sense of intuition, which help her with her sleuthing. The series is infused with a wonderful sense of humor, and the 1930s setting is just delightful.
Needless to say, when I received the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Malice at the Palace, I was ridiculously excited to read about Georgie’s latest escapades. The story picks up a couple of months after the events in Queen of Hearts. Georgie has returned from her trip to California, and barely has any time to settle down before she receives a request from Queen Mary: her youngest son, George (not the one who became King George VI- that son was called Bertie before he became the king) is getting married, and it would be wonderful if Georgie would help George’s fiancée adjust to life in England.
Georgie agrees to help because one does not say no to the Queen of England, and also because she does not enjoy the company of her brother’s wife. It pleases Georgie to no end to return to Rannoch House and announce that she is moving to Kensington Palace to help Princess Marina with the wedding.
Things get awkward quickly when a body turns up at the palace. Things get even more awkward when the woman is identified as a notorious party girl who was rumored to have been involved with Prince George. Georgie was asked to downplay Prince George’s notorious reputation, so this discovery is quite alarming. Once again, our intrepid heroine must step in to solve another case- in between her duties as a royal hostess, of course!
I really enjoyed Malice at the Palace. This is a solid entry in the series. I wish that there had been some more scenes with Georgie’s sister Fig because she’s the sort of character that makes readers sigh and roll their eyes. There were some great scenes with Queenie, who is a terrible maid, but a loyal friend to Georgie. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Royal Spyness book without another appearance from the enigmatic Darcy, who is still madly in love with Georgie. The mystery is satisfying; there are several false leads, but Georgie explores all avenues to solve the case- and to ensure that her cousin is not involved.
I would absolutely recommend Malice at the Palace. The books do a wonderful job as standalones, but once you read one Royal Spyness book, you’re going to want to read all of them. Georgie’s charm is infectious. I would especially recommend the Audible editions- narrator Katherine Kellgren brings the characters to life. I am always a little sad when the story ends, but I am more eager than ever to find out what happens to Georgie next- do we really have to wait for an entire year?