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On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service
Cover of On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service
On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service
A Royal Spyness Mystery Series, Book 11
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Lady Georgiana Rannoch juggles secret missions from the Queen, her beau, and her mother in this mystery in the Royal Spyness series.
When royal sleuth Georgie Rannoch receives a letter from her dearest friend Belinda, who's in an Italian villa awaiting the birth of her illegitimate baby, she yearns to run to her side. If only she could find a way to get there! But then opportunity presents itself in a most unexpected way—her cousin the queen asks her to attend a house party in the Italian Lake Country. The Prince of Wales and the dreadful Mrs. Simpson have been invited, and Her Majesty is anxious to thwart a possible secret wedding.
What luck! A chance to see Belinda, even if it is under the guise of stopping unwanted nuptials. Only that's as far as Georgie's fortune takes her. She soon discovers that she attended finishing school with the hostess of the party—and the hatred they had for each other then has barely dimmed. Plus, she needs to hide Belinda's delicate condition from the other guests. And her dashing beau, Darcy's (naturally) working undercover on a dangerous mission. Then her actress mother shows up, with a not-so-little task to perform. With all this subterfuge, it seems something is bound to go horribly wrong—and Georgie will no doubt be left to pick up the pieces when it does.
Lady Georgiana Rannoch juggles secret missions from the Queen, her beau, and her mother in this mystery in the Royal Spyness series.
When royal sleuth Georgie Rannoch receives a letter from her dearest friend Belinda, who's in an Italian villa awaiting the birth of her illegitimate baby, she yearns to run to her side. If only she could find a way to get there! But then opportunity presents itself in a most unexpected way—her cousin the queen asks her to attend a house party in the Italian Lake Country. The Prince of Wales and the dreadful Mrs. Simpson have been invited, and Her Majesty is anxious to thwart a possible secret wedding.
What luck! A chance to see Belinda, even if it is under the guise of stopping unwanted nuptials. Only that's as far as Georgie's fortune takes her. She soon discovers that she attended finishing school with the hostess of the party—and the hatred they had for each other then has barely dimmed. Plus, she needs to hide Belinda's delicate condition from the other guests. And her dashing beau, Darcy's (naturally) working undercover on a dangerous mission. Then her actress mother shows up, with a not-so-little task to perform. With all this subterfuge, it seems something is bound to go horribly wrong—and Georgie will no doubt be left to pick up the pieces when it does.
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  • From the book Chapter 1

    Monday, April 8, 1935

    Kilhenny Castle, Ireland

    Darcy has gone. Not sure what to do next.

    I should have known it was too good to last.

    I had spent the last two months at Kilhenny Castle, Darcy's ancestral home. I had experienced the merriest Christmas I had ever known, with Darcy, his eccentric family and the Polish princess Zou Zou Zamanska. We had fought hard to prove Lord Kilhenny's innocence when he was wrongly accused of a crime and had managed to gain back his castle. The next month was spent making it habitable again. It had been a wonderful, almost miraculous time to be close to the man I loved, to actually be planning our wedding in the summer. Darcy had also been helping his father to restore the racing stable, now owned by the princess, to its former glory and they had succeeded in winning the gold cup at the Punchestown races.

    But all good things must come to an end. Darcy had never been the sort to stay in one place for long. Neither had the princess. She had flitted between Ireland and London in her little aeroplane as casually as if she was going down to the corner shop for a loaf of bread. Then one day in March she announced that she was leaving to enter a round-the-world air race. Darcy's father, usually never one to let his feelings show, had stomped around miserably for days after she had gone. They were clearly fond of each other, but as far as I knew he hadn't declared his love for her. Perhaps his stupid pride made him think that he didn't have enough to offer her, either in rank or in fortune. Not that she would have cared. Zou Zou, as she liked her friends to call her, was one of the most open and generous people I have ever met. And I think she had definitely fallen for the roguish Lord Kilhenny. Who wouldn't? He had the same rugged good looks and wicked twinkle in his eye as his son!

    Then shortly after Zou Zou flew off in her tiny plane, Darcy came to me and said he'd have to leave for a while. He had an assignment that he couldn't refuse. Even though we were engaged to be married he had never revealed to me for whom he was actually working, although he had dropped hints that it was the British secret service.

    "How long will you be gone, do you think?" I asked, trying to look light and cheerful.

    "I have no idea," he said.

    "And I suppose you can't tell me where you'll be going or what you'll be doing?"

    He grinned then. "You know I can't. And actually I don't know myself yet."

    I stood there, looking at him, thinking how incredibly handsome he was with those wild dark curls and alarming blue eyes. I took his hands. "Darcy, will it be like this when we're married?" I asked and heard a little catch in my voice. "Will you always be going off somewhere and leaving me at home to worry about you?"

    "You don't need to worry about me," he said. "I'm a big boy. I can take good care of myself. But as to what I do when we're married, we'll just have to play it by ear. Maybe we'll move back here to the castle and raise our children the way I was raised. But I want to make enough money to provide for you. You know that."

    "Yes, I know," I said, fighting back an embarrassing tear, "but I'll miss you."

    "I'll miss you too, you silly old thing." He stroked back a curl from my cheek. "I'll be in London first," he added. "I'll make an appointment to see the king's private secretary and see how things are...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 26, 2017
    Agatha Award–winner Bowen’s amusing 11th Royal Spyness mystery (after 2016’s Crowned and Dangerous) takes Lady Georgiana “Georgie” Rannoch, 35th in line to the British throne, to Italy in the spring of 1935. She joins a house party hosted at a lavish estate near Stresa on Lake Maggiore, where her mission, on behalf of Queen Mary, is to keep an eye on that woman (aka Wallis Simpson), the paramour of the Prince of Wales. Meanwhile, a high-level conference among representatives of England, France, and Italy to discuss the Nazi threat is taking place at Stresa. A murder doesn’t occur until late in the action, but series fans know not to expect thrills and chills. The story’s main pleasure lies in the picture of Georgie’s world, where she takes tea with Queen Mary at Buckingham Palace and records Mrs. Simpson’s imperious behavior. Another delight is the large cast, which includes horrible countesses, terrifyingly efficient lady’s maids, grim-faced nuns, and Nazis, both brash and bashful. Fans of light mysteries will be rewarded. Agent: Meg Ruley, Jane Rotrosen Agency.

  • Kirkus

    June 15, 2017
    Who knew that being 35th in line for the British crown could be a major impediment to marriage?After years of romantic interludes often interrupted by dangerous spying (Crowned and Dangerous, 2016, etc.), Lady Georgiana Rannoch and Darcy O'Mara are preparing to wed. Because Darcy is Catholic, Georgie must ask permission from Parliament to give up her highly unrealistic claim to the throne. Traveling to London from Ireland, she plans to continue on to Italy to be with her unmarried friend Belinda, who's gone there to give birth to a child she cannot keep. Delighted to learn about her trip, Queen Mary asks Georgie to keep an eye on her son David, the Prince of Wales, who's pursuing the pre-divorced Wallis Simpson. Both are visiting the Count and Contessa di Martini, who was once Camilla Waddell-Walker, Georgie's schoolmate. Forced to travel without her maid, Georgie fights off the advances of Baron Rudolf von Rosskopf before she arrives to find Belinda at a Swiss clinic. Queen Mary has arranged for her to stay at the Villa Fiori, which houses a strange mix of people: David and Mrs. Simpson; von Rosskopf; a German general and his aide; and Georgie's mother, Claire, a former actress engaged to Max, a wealthy German industrialist. Much to Georgie's surprise, Darcy is also in residence, posing as an English gardener. A conference had been called in Stresa to discuss ways to combat the Nazi threat, but at the villa, even the Prince of Wales has nice things to say about the Fuhrer, who will make Germany great again. After Claire begs Georgie to help her retrieve some damaging pictures from the blackmailing von Rosskopf, he's found shot dead. Whatever satisfaction Georgie takes is mitigated when her mother becomes the chief suspect. Bowen's reliably lighthearted tone has the added fillip of the looming shadow of Nazi terror.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    July 1, 2017

    Bowen's 11th series historical mystery (following Crowned and Dangerous) takes a serious turn on the eve of World War II as Lady Georgiana heads to Italy to spy on her cousin the Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson at a house party also attended by Mussolini's top adviser and high-ranking German military officers. Festivities turn dark when a blackmailer is murdered, yet the courageous Georgie is as candid and refreshing as always.--LH

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    July 1, 2017
    Thirty-fourth in line for the British throne, Lady Georgiana doesn't think she has anything to lose by abdicating her place in line in order to marry her Catholic fiance. The queen assures Georgie that she'll set things in motion to grant her requestin exchange for one little favor. The Prince of Wales and that awful Mrs. Simpson will be attending a house party in Italy. Georgie is to attend and make sure the couple doesn't try to elope. Georgie will also check in on her friend Belinda, who is hiding her unmarried confinement in Italy. In addition to His Royal Highness, the house party includes Georgie's aloof mother and her profiteering German boyfriend, a blackmailing count, a priest, and a couple of Nazis. The blackmailer is murdered and, like any good mystery-novel guest list, everyone had reason to want him dead. This eleventh outing is as charming as its predecessors. The road seems clear for Georgie and Darcy to wed, unless the prolific Bowen has something up her sleeve for the couple's pending nuptials. A sure winner for series fans.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

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On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service
On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service
A Royal Spyness Mystery Series, Book 11
Rhys Bowen
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