“Crowned and Dangerous” by Rhys Bowen opens with Lady Georgiana Rannoch and the Honorable Darcy O’ Mara trying to elope in Scotland even though she is 35th in line for the British crown and he is Catholic. En route he learns that his father is accused of killing a wealthy American who bought the O’Mara estate. To save Georgie from scandal, Darcy ends his engagement to her and returns home to County Kildare, Ireland. Because Georgie and Darcy do have access to the crime scene readers are able to take a believable journey with them as they try to figure out “who done it.”
“I thought of writing a series with the most unlikely heroine, a royal who was penniless. I wanted the recurring theme to be how would she support herself and survive,” Bowen said. “Remember, servants had done everything for them. Since only the sons, mostly the first-born, received the inheritance what happened to girls like my main character Georgie. She was expected to marry someone of the same class so marriage became a business transaction. They all are trying to live the life they knew, but it is getting more difficult. Everything fell apart after World War II because no one could afford the up keep and the taxes.”
Intertwined within the mystery are fascinating historical facts about the era. Bowen wanted to show readers how, “In England if you want to marry you have to wait three weeks and must announce it in the Church. Since Greta Green in Scotland is on the border many couples went there to marry. There was also the problem of Georgie being in line for the British Crown and Darcy is Catholic. Since the 1700s if someone was in the line of succession they cannot marry a Catholic. This law existed until it was repealed last year.”
She also tried to show how, “People were more proper back then and did not cuss like today. Using the word ‘Golly’ was a very normal girlish way of expression, much like the ‘valley girl’ vocabulary of today. Back then women could not swear. ‘Golly’ was a way to get around saying the word G-d. It was an expression used instead of ‘Oh My G-d.’”
Anyone wanting a fun story with well-developed characters should read this novel. Georgie is a delightful character who is intelligent, determined, and admirable although a bit clumsy. With this series no one has to read the previous books to understand what went on within the story.