Brought to you by OBS reviewer Daniele
Society in Victorian London? When England’s national security is compromised, Georgia must pose as a titled lady to root out a spy…
A cousin of Georgia’s dear friend, Lady Phyllida Monthalf, is brutally murdered in her home during the theft of blueprints of a new battleship designed by her husband—who now stands accused of her murder…and treason. The Duke of Blackford, in service to Whitehall, enlists Georgia and the Archivist Society to assist in the investigation. Playing the part of the duke’s new paramour, Georgia gains entry into the upper echelons of London’s elite, where amidst elegant dinners and elaborate parties a master spy schemes to lay hands on the stolen plans.
The duke is no stranger to the world of international espionage, but Georgia is out of her element in more ways than one. She must not allow her genuine attraction to the duke—or her obsession with finding her parents’ killer—to distract her from her role. But when a mysterious stranger threatens to expose her, the counterfeit lady may be in real trouble… (Goodreads)
When war ship blueprints disappear and the naval architect’s wife is murdered while they are both in a locked room, it looks as if it is a case of domestic violence. But the victim is a cousin of Lady Phyllida, and she cannot believe that her Cousin Clara’s husband, Kenneth, could commit such an act. And what has become of the blueprints; did Kenneth possibly sell them to Germany or burn them? Thus sets the stage for the Duke of Blackford to approach Georgia requesting her help and that of the Archivist Society in the investigation. The future of Britain’s sea dominance and national security rest in keeping those ship’s plans out of the wrong hands. The duke proposes that Georgia pose as a recently widowed relation of Lady Phyllida so that they can infiltrate society in hopes of finding who is behind the theft. He provides her with proper clothing, a more fashionable address than her bookshop, and a rumor that she is his great lost love and now paramour. Lady Phyllida is to put her past tragedy behind her to reenter society, and Georgia’s employee and friend, Emma, is to pose as their ladies maid. Completely out of her element, and with great trepidation about leaving her bookshop and livelihood in the hands of other members of the Society, she steps into the role of Lady. She quickly finds herself caught up in a world of appearances, box seats, afternoon parlor visits, summer house parties, and a glittering ball. It is also a world of intrigue, questionable loyalties, and espionage.
I thought the story got off to a somewhat slow start, but quickly picked up in interest and action. The mystery was well plotted, if a bit predictable. Many of the Archivist Society members that were featured in the last book are not prominent here, and I particularly missed reading about Sir Broderick. I imagine this tale will appeal more to female readers because there is quite an emphasis on the fairy tale quality of pretending to be a lady with the affections of a duke. Georgia is an intelligent heroine, if a bit star struck in this endeavor.
This second installment in the Victorian Bookshop Mystery Series has more of a romance feel to it than the first book did. Georgia has something more than a crush on the Duke of Blackford, and he also has feelings for her, but she is a middle class merchant, not Duchess material. Though she daydreams of him and is swept up in dancing the waltz with him, she knows her only place could be as mistress. Though it breaks her heart, she refuses to fill that role. We shall see how the relationship plays out in the future.
I enjoy this Victorian period series and recommend it to fans of historical mysteries, especially the Victorian English era. Georgia offers a fresh perspective and fans of Tasha Alexander and Deanna Rayborn should enjoy these.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour*