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by Rhys Bowen, read by Katherine Kellgren
Audible, Inc., August 2013
Unabridged pages

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

It would seem that someone with a title who is 35th in line to the throne would have an easy life. But unfortunately, as a woman she has no inherited property and even if she did, the family castle is all that there is in the estate - the money being long gone. So Lady Georgiana Rannoch is left at the mercy of her brother and others for her support.

Lady Georgiana thought her housing woes were at least temporarily solved when her mother invited her to Chelsea to help write her memoirs. As the project gets underway, her mother quickly realizes her life had too many scandals to actually put in print so the project is abandoned. At the last possible minute before the rent on the Chelsea apartment is up, Georgie manages to get herself invited to visit Edwina, Duchess of Eynsford. It seems an heir to the family's fortune has been located. Her younger son apparently married and sired a child in Australia before his death. That grandson, Jack, is soon to arrive in England and Georgie has been invited to help educate the young man in the traditions and customs of his title. It soon became apparent after Jack's arrival that he'll need plenty of help. Life on a sheep station in the wilds of Australia is a far cry from the life he will be expected to live in England.

Not everyone is thrilled to see the new arrival however. The duchess's older, unmarried son is appalled at the new arrival and sets about to upset the plan to pass the title and estate to young Jack. Before he can put his plan in motion he is found dead - with Jack's knife in his back. But could the solution to the death be that simple? Of course not. There are plenty of other suspects to go around as the house is filled with numerous eccentric relatives bearing grudges along with a full staff who may have all sorts of secrets in their past.

There are some problems with the characters in this book. The ineptitude of Georgie's maid has gone from mildly funny to quite annoying as the series has rolled on. The general flakiness of the titled people is getting to be a bit much as well. I'm sure that there were a number of snobbish souls who did all of the things the characters in these books do, but in this book, these little quirks seemed even more exaggerated than usual, and it took away from the story itself. Plus, one has to wonder why the author included Darcy, Georgie's love interest, and her friend Belinda in the story. Darcy had a rather farfetched reason to appear and could have been left out of this book. In fact, he probably should have been since his role has mostly been as a love interest to Georgie and that relationship is going nowhere. Belinda's arrival made no sense whatsoever. She suddenly appeared on the scene with a contrived story which didn't really make sense and her presence did nothing at all for the plot. Both Darcy and Belinda's presence just cluttered up things up and detracted from the plot.

As for the audio production, the narrator is quite good with this series. She helps bring the various characters to life giving them each their own voice and through those voices, she puts the reader into the Edwardian period in England. There are no sound effects added to the recording. There are some prolonged periods of silence which I assume may be where the book breaks between CDs in that format. Listening to it on my Kindle, those pauses were a bit odd.

HEIRS AND GRACES is the seventh book in the Royal Spyness series. While it may not be one of the strongest entries, Katherine Kellgren's excellent narration makes listening a pleasure.

Caryn St.Clair resides in University City, Missouri and is a former elementary school media specialist, President of the Parks Commission and a docent at the St.Louis Zoo.

Reviewed by Caryn St Clair, September 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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