Fans of Downton Abbey will feel a sense of home-coming when they enter Kingsdown Place, the major setting in Rhys Bowen’s newest novel, Heirs and Graces. The book is the sixth in the Royal Spyness series, and like the others, it is a dream come true for Masterpiece Theater aficionados. Continuing the comedic adventures of Lady Georgiana Rannoch, thirty-fifth in line for the British throne, Rhys Bowen will please both long-time fans of the series as well as those just discovering it.
As the novel begins, Lady Georgiana is spending some not-so-quality time with her mother in Chelsea – a wealthy neighborhood in central London. Unsure of what she is going to do when they parts ways, Georgie is pleased to be asked by Her Majesty the Queen to assist with a domestic situation facing the dowager duchess Edwina Eynsford.
It seems that Edwina has recently revealed to her son and the other members of the Kingsdown Place household that a newly discovered heir is traveling to England. Fearing that the new heir, Jack Altringham, will not understand the customs of high society, Edwina enlists Lady Georgiana to act as a mentor to the young man – Jack after all has been raised on a sheep farm in the Outback of Australia.
What follows is a collection of laugh-inducing scenes as Jack tries to understand what it means to be part of an aristocratic family living on a palatial estate. Lady Georgiana is talented, but even she cannot work miracles, especially when confronted with obstacles at every turn.
All would be well and good, except that Edwina’s son Cedric, the current Duke, ends up dead and Jack appears to be the prime suspect. Fans of the series know that Lady Georgiana can’t help but to investigate when she feels an injustice is about to occur and this time is no different.
It would be an understatement to say that Kingsdown Place is filled with potential suspects and annoying distractions. There are the female siblings of the victim, the servants who have been with the family for ages, the male companions who follow Cedric everywhere, as well as the architect working on the new theater planned for the estate grounds. Running around under everyone’s feet are Edwina’s younger grandchildren who are anxious to help Lady Georgiana and the police explore the crime scene.
Lest readers familiar with the Royal Spyness books fear the exclusion of other series regulars, rest assured that they all make their appearances. Darcy, Lady Georgiana’s true love, is at Kingsdown Place because it was he who traveled to Australia to accompany Jack on his journey “home”. Georgie’s maid, Queenie, is also there and up to her usual antics; while later in the story both best-friend Belinda and Granddad also factor into the unfolding plot.
As is common in the series, the comedic episodes are underscored by more serious social problems facing the aristocracy. As a gay man, Cedric is in the impossible position of trying to provide an heir for his family. The uncertain futures which await widowed females and servants who are relieved of duty are also examined. But make no mistake, at its heart, the novel is a light and enjoyable read intended to entertain.
Heirs and Graces is another success for Rhys Bowen. Both old and new fans will be eager to get their hands on the next Lady Georgiana mystery. I venture to say that we’ll be seeing some major movement on the Georgiana and Darcy relationship front in the next book. I know we are all waiting for that.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.