Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen
|Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen|
|Category: Crime (Historical)|
|Reviewer: Loralei Haylock|
|Summary: Some excellent voice work from Katherine Kellgren, but the best acting in the world couldn't make the characters more three dimensional and likeable. Some entertaining mystery, but unpleasant characters make this at best a two star read.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 295||Date: August 2014|
|Publisher: Audible Studios|
|External links: Author's website|
Lady Georgiana Rannoch, 35th in line for the British throne, may know how to navigate upper class society, but there aren't many acceptable career choices for a penniless almost royal. So when her mother, famous actress Claire Daniels, invites her on a transatlantic cruise, Georgie is looking forwards to living the highlife and relaxing for a while.
But life is never that easy for Georgie, and when she encounters her dashing young man, Darcy, on the ship, she knows it's not because he has come to see her. Darcy is on the tail of an infamous jewel thief, following them all the way across America to California, where Georgie and her mother just happen to be staying. And when someone turns up dead, it's up to Georgie and Darcy to solve the mystery.
I should start out by saying I haven't read any of the previous books in this series, and though I felt the plot was fairly easy to get into, and the characters and their relationships quick to get my head around, there were moments when I felt I might have been more invested had I read the previous instalments.
The book starts fairly well. Georgie makes for a likeable hero in the first few chapters - hapless and downtrodden by her overwhelming and overbearing mother, you instantly feel sympathy for her. Unfortunately, it doesn't last. While I understand the need to show a little classism - the book is set in the 1930s among royals - having Georgie subscribe to the same attitudes as her mother and friends made her extremely unlikeable. It was particularly bad in her treatment of maid Queenie - some of the ways Queenie was described physically made Georgie come across as downright unpleasant.
In fact, I was hard pressed to find a character I liked. They were all obsessed with money and/or sex, only ever doing or talking about things that would get them one or the other. They were shallow and reprehensible, and I didn't really want to spend time with any of them.
Even Darcy was just boring - and this is perhaps where reading some of the previous books would have come in handy. His character development here was so thin, I just couldn't relate to him, or get invested in his and Georgie's will-they-won't-they relationship.
There was some intrigue with the mystery - and a pretty neat solution to the jewel thief plot. The setting for the second half of the book was great, and set up the murder nicely. It was interesting to watch the characters try to work out whodunnit (although for the reader it was pretty clear that only one character had opportunity and motive, really) and there was some entertaining comment on people with more money than sense.
But overall this just felt a bit flat. A feeling made worse by the knowledge that this is the eighth book in the series. I felt like I was reading a second, or maybe at a push third book, but Georgie seemed terribly naive for a character with seven previous adventures under her belt, and a couple of kisses snatched every third of the book or so isn't really satisfying pay off for a relationship that's lasted that long either.
I have to commend Katherine Kellgren for her performance. She brought a great deal of spice and variety to the snobby American and British accents, but all her best acting couldn't make the characters any less flat. Read if you're invested in the series, but perhaps borrow rather than buy.
My thanks to the publisher for sending a copy.
Fans of easy reading mysteries might enjoy Scandal at Six: A Lois Meade Mystery by Ann Purser or Murder on the Minneapolis by Anita Davison.
You can read more book reviews or buy Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
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