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Monday, December 14, 2020

Review - The Last Mrs. Summers

I have followed the series, but not faithfully.  Sometimes I have read a book not gotten to reviewing it (I'm bad).  Here are the reviews I have posted of prior books in the series. 

#8 Queen of Hearts (click here

#7 Heirs and Graces (click here), 

#6 The Twelve Clues of Christmas (click here,) 

#5 Naughty in Nice (click here,) 

#4 Royal Blood (click here,) 

Author interviews/Guest posts

2010 (click here

2016 (click here

2017 (click here)

 Lady Georgiana Rannoch is just back from her honeymoon with dashing Darcy O’Mara when a friend in need pulls her into a twisted Gothic tale of betrayal, deception and, most definitely, murder. . . .In the foreword, Ms. Bowen shares that this book is her homage to Daphne du Maurier's gothic book Rebecca. 

Author: Rhys Bowen

Copyright: August 2020 (Berkley) 320 pgs

Series: 14th in A Royal Spyness Mysteries

Sensuality: n/a

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy

Main Character: Lady Georgianna, 35th in line for the throne, cousin to the prince

Setting: 1934-35, Cornwall England

Obtained Through: Library

Book Cover: "After a heart-stopping journey in Belinda’s beast of a motorcar, we arrive at the creaky old cottage called White Sails and quickly realize that it is completely uninhabitable. Just when I’m starting to wonder if I would have been better off trying to get Queenie to cook a roast that hasn’t been burnt beyond all recognition, we meet Rose Summers, a woman Belinda knew as a child when she spent time in Cornwall. Rose invites us to stay at Trewoma Hall, the lovely estate now owned by her husband, Tony.

Belinda confesses that she never liked Rose and had a fling with Tony years ago, so staying with them is far from ideal but beggars can’t be choosers as they say. Trewoma is not the idyllic house Belinda remembers. There’s something claustrophobic and foreboding about the place. Matters aren’t helped by the oppressively efficient housekeeper Mrs. Mannering or by the fact that Tony seems to want to rekindle whatever he and Belinda once had right under his wife’s nose.

Our increasingly awkward visit soon turns deadly when a member of the household is found murdered and all clues point to Belinda as the prime suspect. I soon learn that some long buried secrets have come back to haunt those in residence at Trewoma Hall and I’ll need to sift through the ruins of their past so Belinda doesn’t lose her chance at freedom in the present. . . ."


Georgiana is married now but Darcy is off on Government business so she is bored.  Belinda is done making mistakes with men and is trying to focus on cleaning up her life. This book gives her a great opportunity.  Rose is the new Mrs. Summers but she was the poor daughter of a servant and feels isolated and in danger.  Tony is the unsympathetic husband who treats Rose in a belittling manner.  Belinda's Uncle, Francis, is a shady local character complicating Belinda's life.  Jago is the mysterious man from the past that now is the manager of the mansion on the property next door.  Jonquil, deceased, was the prior Mrs. Summers who slipped at a cliff and fell to her death.  Mrs. Mannering is the ever-present efficient house keeper who doesn't like Rose.

Trewoma Hall has an aura of tragedy and woe. It provides the delightfully gothic setting for some nice chills.  The isolated coast of Cornwall in general is perfect for some creepy chills.

The foreward lets you know this is an homage to Rebecca, so the plot isn't a surprise that much if you've read Rebecca.  The murder takes several chapters to arrive, but the story is building like an Agatha Christie novel.  And, if you've read Rebecca it isn't hard to figure out the villain, but that doesn't make the journey any less enjoyable. The pacing is a slow warm up with a lot going on to process.  I found this still a relaxing and fun pace.

The killer confrontation is tense and tragic even.  The wrapup leaves us with a smile and warm feelings.

If you are a devoted reader of the Royal Spyness mysteries I must say that this is different than all the others.  By the very nature of doing an homage to Rebecca it had to be different than any of the others. There is no duty to the queen, Georgianna's disaster of a maid/cook doesn't tag along.  There is less humor than the typical mystery in the series, and Darcy's appearance seems forced.  But it is still a good homage and mystery that I found entertaining and well worth my time.

Rating: Excellent - Loved it! If you are a fan of the series, keep my caveat in mind. If you haven't read this series before you can enjoy without reading any prior books in the series. 


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