The Princess Plan by Julia London is a good murder mystery, along with a royal romance. This first in the series delves into the Victorian Age culture and expectations.
The fairy tale influence comes across according to London, “I was enthralled by “Cinderella” and the “Princess and the Pea.” Another good one is the “Prince and the Pauper,” with the prince disguised as a commoner, and the prince is tired of having to marry for duty. I also put a little of “Pygmalion” where a commoner is changed into someone princess-like. For those readers who wondered, I did not take the heroine’s name from this play, but picked it out because I just like the name.”
The story opens with Prince Sebastian, the future king of Alucia coming to England to secure a trade deal and find a bride that will bring influence to this small kingdom. Able to secure an invitation of a masquerade ball held in the prince’s honor, English citizens, Eliza Tricklebank, her sister Hollis, and friend Lady Caroline, are hoping to meet him. But the only one who literally runs into him is Eliza. Feeling satisfied that her wish came true she returns home and writes about the ball with Hollis for their unapologetic gossip gazette.
But after finding details of a scandal the sisters decide to write about that as well, posting how the personal secretary of the visiting prince is found murdered. This prompts Prince Sebastian to don civilian clothes in search of Eliza, deciding to play detective. Paying her a visit he is shocked that she throws him out after being rude. Yet, subsequent run-ins highlight her honesty, wit, intelligence, independence, humor, and wisdom leading Sebastian to agree to work with her to find the murderer.
London noted, “This is the first mystery I have written; although I read a bunch of mysteries, thrillers and suspense so it was not like shooting in the dark. I did know who the killer was from the very beginning. There was so much political drama so I killed Sebastian’s confidant. I found out writing a murder mystery is one of the hardest things I have written. My hat is off to all those mystery writers. It is really hard to maintain that thread and plant those clues. With a pure romance, it is sometimes hard to find out what motivates the characters. But with the mystery the characters were able to be propelled to the next scene. I never had to guess where this was going and it allowed Eliza/Sebastian to become acquainted with each other and draw close.”
The relationship blossoms as it grows from one of conflict to appreciation to love. Unfortunately for both they have to get over the obstacle that a prince cannot marry a commoner. As the hunt continues for the murderer readers turn the pages to find out if both can pursue their true love of one another.
This first in the series is a home run. London blends humor with great character development and a suspenseful mystery. The only problem with this series is that readers will