Book Review: Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen

Posted April 15, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 6 Comments

Book Review: Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen
Series: Her Royal Spyness #8
Genres: Historical
Published by Berkley on August 5, 2014
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

Also in this series: Heirs and Graces

My mother, the glamorous and much-married actress, is hearing wedding bells once again—which is why she must hop across the pond for a quickie divorce in Reno. To offer my moral support, and since all expenses are paid by her new hubby-to-be, Max, I agree to make the voyage with her.

Crossing the Atlantic, with adventure in the air and wealthy men aboard, Mother all but forgets about Max and matrimony—especially when movie mogul Cy Goldman insists on casting her in his next picture.

Meanwhile, I find myself caught up in the secret investigation of a suspected jewel thief. Lucky for me, the lead investigator happens to be my dashing beau, Darcy!

Mother’s movie and Darcy’s larceny lead everyone to Cy’s Hollywood home, where the likes of Charlie Chaplin are hanging about and there’s enough romantic intrigue to fill a double feature. But we hardly get a chance to work out the sleeping arrangements before Cy turns up dead—as if there wasn’t enough drama already…

Also by this author: Heirs and Graces, Malice at the Palace, Crowned and Dangerous, On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service, The Tuscan Child, Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding, Love and Death Among the Cheetahs, The Last Mrs Summers

Eighth in the Her Royal Spyness historical mystery series and revolving around Lady Georgiana Rannoch as she sails off to America.

My Take

Georgie’s mummy drives me bats. She’s so totally clueless when it comes to her own daughter. She’s got money up the wazoo but never does anything to help her penniless daughter. Well, except to point out that her daughter could simply take up with a rich man, if only she weren’t so huge and homely… So it was a total treat to read about Mummy actually paying for a wardrobe for Georgie. It’s also too funny to read how very snobbish Mummy is as she puts down most of the people around her for being so very common. Her, the daughter of a Cockney who starred on the stage.

I do hope she marries Max and that Max loses everything. Nothing against Max, I just want Mummy to be incredibly poor and for Georgie to have money, put that shoe on the other foot.

Aboard ship, it’s more of the snobbish and nosy. You’ll adore the comment Georgie throws back at Mrs. Simpson, lol. Meoww. Oh, lord, then there’s Lady Porter’s question of the captain, asking if “ships like this sink very often”. I loved the captain’s response *more laughter*. Oh, boy, this is followed by Jerry’s snide comment.

Poor Georgie. Every time she’s about to get some, Queenie shows up to save the day. Then there’s the day when Queenie quits. Yeahh! She irritates the heck out of me, although Georgie drives me even more nuts that she keeps her. Then again, I can understand why.

Ya know, Bowen never does explain how the bracelet gets returned. Why doesn’t Georgie tell Darcy about that moment of total smoothness when Algie introduces himself to Goldman?

I must say, Belinda certainly surprises me. I thought she had her mind set on one thing, turns out it was the other thing, lol.

Darcy is such a sweetheart. Understanding, loving, and so anxious to make enough money to support the woman he loves the way he thinks she needs to live. It’s Darcy who keeps bringing me back. I’m curious to know just what he really does, who he works for. And I’m curious to find out if he ever does make that fortune he wants.

It’s a whirlwind trip for Georgie. Wined and dined by movie stars, a fit of jealousy on Darcy’s part, murder, mayhem, tension between the stars, and it seems as if everyone on board the ship shows up in Hollywood. Even Darcy gets in on the act.

The Story

It’s Mummy again. Desperate for discrete companionship on her necessary journey to the depths of America, she arrives with a flourish at Kingsdowne Place (see Heirs and Graces, 7) and drags Georgie off with her.

For once, Mummy forks out for clothes for Georgie, but of course, for purely selfish reasons. It does work well for Georgie and is certainly good for her ego as she’s romanced by famous actors in Hollywood while Mummy fills her time with making a terrible movie. Meanwhile cat burglars and murderers are afoot.

The Characters

Lady Georgiana Rannoch is the daughter of a duke, a cousin to His Majesty King George and to the Princess Elizabeth, and too poor for words. Queenie Hepplewhite is her very inept maid. Mummy is Claire Daniels, a leading lady on the stage who would have stayed married to the duke except it required she live at Castle Rannoch. Instead she bolted, and she hasn’t stopped. She’s taken up with one man after another and the latest, Max von Stroheim, wants to marry her. Homer Clegg, a Texan, is her current husband whom she hasn’t seen in ages. Granddad, Claire’s dad, is a retired London bobby. Claudette is Claire’s maid.

Darcy O’Mara is the heir to an impoverished Irish estate, in love with Georgie, and spends most of his time jaunting about the world on secret missions.

Aboard the Berengaria sailing for America
Captain Harrison is in command. The passengers include Sir Digby and Lady Porter, Montmorency “Tubby” Halliday is a reporter for the Daily Mail, Princess Promila, Mrs. Simpson (yes, that one), and the klutzy Algie Broxley-Foggett sent to America to become a man.

Cyrus Goldman is the impresario of Golden Pictures, and Stella Brightwell is his mistress and star. Stella was also part of a talented twin act — Gertie and Flossie Oldham. Flossie became Bella Brightwell. Helen Goldman is Cy’s wife and lives in New York. Mostly. Juan de Castillo is a member of an impoverished Spanish family. Freddie is Stella’s ex. Ronnie Green is Goldman’s assistant. Maria is his housekeeper at Alhambra II, the tacky castle Cy is building up in the hills. Jimmy is the gatekeeper.

In Hollywood
Barbara Kindell, a gossip columnist, tries to slip inside Georgie’s guard. Charlie Chaplin really likes Georgie, all that lovely innocence, unspoiled, and long legs. Dolores Hanford and her husband and friends are some of the tacky nouveau riche. Craig Hart is an international star with an interest in Georgie and a need to get married.

Errol Flynn, Bing Crosby, and Norma Shearer get a mention.

Sheriff Billings is with Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. Deputy Hanson will guard the suspect.

Belinda Warburton-Stoke, a.k.a., Mademoiselle Dubois, is Georgie’s friend. And no longer welcome at home. Wanda will play the part of Mummy in Reno while Mummy goes off to act.

Kingsdowne Place
The dowager Duchess Edwina Eynsford and her half dotty sisters, Princess Charlotte Orlovski (she’s into spiritualism) and the wrongly named Virginia, are having tea with Georgie. Edie is the head housemaid.

The Cover and Title

The cover is the woodcut design that has appeared on earlier books. This time it’s a cruise ship in the background with Georgie in a green suit holding onto her cloche and leaning into a stiff wind. There’s a man in a fedora and cream trench coat behind her and a woman with dark hair wearing what looks like a cross between a poke bonnet and a shepherdess hat. The trademark burgundy ribbon with a picot trim spans the lower part of the cover with the title and series information on it.

The title is all about Georgie, for she is the new Queen of Hearts.

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6 responses to “Book Review: Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen

  1. Tina

    As Kathy Daviesstated in her review, “Ya know, Bowen never does explain how the bracelet gets returned.” I just read this book for the first time and lay awake last night wondering how the heck this plot hole stayed in the book. I need explanations because it’s kind of nonsensical.

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