Crowned and Dangerous – Rhys Bowen

Rhys Bowen’s Crowned and Dangerous: A Royal Spyness Mystery looked so fun sitting on the New Books shelf at my local library. Ancient castles, sweeping landscapes, and a swanky, intrepid-looking woman dominated the front cover. The back flap boasted of Rhys Bowen’s many awards and nominations. I thought I had found a perfect fit.

The story follows one Lady Georgiana Rannoch, 35th in line for the British Crown and thus not really in line at all. Georgie may be royalty but she is also broke. Her wardrobe is sensible rather than fashionable, her maid is lazy and coarse, and, since she is unmarried, Georgie must rely entirely on the kindness of friends and family to keep a roof over her head.

Her world, like her life, is a patchwork of glitz and shabby. Crowned and Dangerous picks up November of 1934. The Roaring 20s are only exquisite memories. Some members of Georgie’s royal family still have wealth and property, but many houses have fallen to more reduced circumstances.

This world of Georgie’s is interesting. I have never dealt with the headache of an empty title, but I can identify with the uncertainty bred by struggling finances. This, however, is as interested as I was able to get in Georgie’s story.

To be honest, I was quite disappointed with Georgie. The book’s cover art and description cast her as an energetic, clever sleuth. From page one, though, Georgie is a passive character. She plans her existence around her love interest, Darcy, and thinks his recklessness charming. When’s he’s not around, she spends her time pining for him, quarreling with her sister-in-law, and wishing for a better maid.

The murder mystery itself took so long to take off. After a hundred pages of what felt like nothing important, Georgie finally makes it to the country where the dastardly deed took place. By then, I had started to dread even opening the covers of the book.

I believe that books, like people, are rarely a lost cause. But, I also believe that when a relationship goes sour, the bravest, wisest thing you can do is to let go. So I did. I decided I wasn’t going to finish Crowned and Dangerous, and I immediately felt a wave of relief. I was free.

The thing about bad relationships is that the fault is hardly one-sided. I must admit now that I ignored a couple of red flags. The back cover displayed praise for the Royal Spyness Mysteries as a whole, rather than specific praise for this installment. The front flap of the dust jacket mentioned Georgiana and Darcy’s romance. Now, I enjoy a literary reference or two, but it seems odd to name a couple after famous siblings. I thought perhaps the names were a coincidence, but the author makes a point of confirming Darcy was indeed named after Jane Austen’s beloved character in Pride and Prejudice.

Perhaps this just wasn’t the right time. Perhaps I need to read the other books in the series. Perhaps in the future, I’ll stumble across Crowned and Dangerous again, pick it up in an entirely different frame of mind, and fall hard in love. For now, though, I’m looking forward to my next fling. I already have it lined up, and it promises to be a good one.

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