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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review - Naughty in Nice

This week I review the newest book in the Royal Spyness series set on the French Riviera complete with a French Marquis and Coco Chanel thrown into the mix.  I was looking forward to reading this addition to the series and it does not disappoint.  I don't think I have ever referred to a murder mystery as a rollicking fun romp before, but this book fits that description plus some.

Author: Rhys Bowen

Copyright:  September 2011; Berkley Hardcover; 336 pages

Series:  # 5 in Royal Spyness Mysteries  

Sensuality:  Innuendo and some mild adult references 

Mystery sub-genre:  Historical Cozy/Amateur Sleuth

Main Character:  22 year old Lady Georgiana Rannoch, thirty-fourth in line to the throne of England

Setting:  1933 French Riviera

Obtained book through:  Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Lady Georgia is miserable in London in the middle of a bone-chilling winter, with her tightwad brother "Binky" and his pregnant bully-wife "Fig" taking residence at Rannoch Hall.  Georgie is nearly starving but stands out in the cold to volunteer at the soup line rather than stay at the house with her belittling sister-in-law.  Eventually the cold dreary weather gets to Fig and she manages a trip to the Nice on the French Riviera, expecting Georgiana to stay behind and close up Rannoch house - leaving her without a place to live as well as no money or food.

Fortunately the Queen calls upon Georgie and decides she must re-acquire an expensive diamond studded snuff box that a guest stole during a royal function.  The Queen knows the man who did it and he is staying in Nice as well.  While Georgie is there, maybe she can keep an eye on her cousin, the Prince as he is running around with that American married woman.  The Queen pays for Georgie's train fare and she is off with her inept maid.  On the train she makes friends with an old acquaintance of the family, Vera Bate Lombardi and her good friend Coco Chanel. Yes, that Chanel!

Once in Nice, she finds that she is not welcome at all with her brother.  They expect her to tutor their children and be a full time baby sitter for them.  Georgie can't get back that snuff box at this rate.  She is out for a walk and encounters Vera and Coco who insist she must come stay where they are because there will be room for her.  Georgie discovers her mother owns the Villa that Vera and Coco are staying at.  Her mother is escaping the cold winter in Germany and the rising political tensions.  The best thing, her mother's villa is next door to Sir Toby Gropper - the man who stole the Queens snuff box.

When Coco Chanel insists that Georgie model her final piece in a fashion show that will be graced with the Queen's diamond and pearl necklace, the reader just knows disaster is going to strike.  Georgie falls off the cat walk and the Queen's necklace is stolen in the confusion.  Georgie has to find the necklace in addition to retrieving the Queen's snuff box.  Of course there is a murder that the french police suspect Georgie for. Oh, and then there is the smoking hot French Marquis, Jean Paul de Ronchard, who is persuing Georgie to keep things hot and interesting. 

Georgie was sparkling in this addition to the series and hillariously funny. She never gives up no matter how bleak or impossible the situation, which can make for some outrageously crazy situations.  I have only read one other book in this series and I had not been introduced to her mother before who is the opposite of Georgie, breezy, self-centered and a party girl who likes rich men.  I loved the character of Coco Chanel who was avaunt-garde, yes, but unexpected in other ways.  Jean Paul was a great character and I have to wonder if he will show up in another book to give Darcy more of a challenge for Georgie's affections.  Darcy was not as present in this book which will be hard for the Darcy fans, but Jean Paul spices things up.

The plot was good and I was surprised by a revelation that Georgie uncovers in her investigation.  The murderer and thief I only partially figured out, and did not get the motive for the murder right at all.  I think this book will be a turning point in the series from the way some things were left.  Will Georgie still live at Rannoch House or will she have to find someplace else to live? Will Darcy be more serious toward Georgie and so on?  And the Queen's snuff box?  You will have to read it to find out about that.  I will say one of the scenes that had me crying from laughing so hard had to do with that expensive little collectable.

When you are having a really bad week and things are getting you down, turn to this book and it will have a smile on your face in no time. This is the book you want to read when you need to laugh so hard you are snorting!  If laughter is the best medicine then this book should be prescribed for everybody's better health.  I don't think I have ever laughed so much over a book.  This book has a solid murder mystery to solve, a thief to unveil and enchanting characters to delight and entertain.

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Karen Russell said...

I liked this one, too, and had a similar feeling of a turning point approaching -- especially with the prospect of war looming over Europe.

A.F. Heart said...

I actually wondered if Georgie might do some more offiical spying by visiting her mother in Germany. Hmmmm.

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