When oh when is Gold going to published here in the US? I lust! I want! I can order it and wait 4-5 weeks (eep!) but I'd rather it come out in the nice US edition and then my library will buy it and I can read it there. BUT! WHEN?! Especially because Amazon is now taunting me also with Haunted! We need to get through the alphabet sooner people!
Y'all know I love this series. If you've forgotten or are new, Lady Grace is maid-of-honor to her majesty Queen Elizabeth (the first) and also her personal detective. The books are in diary form and chock-full of historical details and interesting facts, but without this information getting in way of the story. Not only that, but they are fun, rollicking adventures of Grace acting quite improperly and loving it. The Queen (not always the most proper woman) turns a blind eye as long as she saves the day and not many people find out.
One of my favorite parts of the series is the characterization of Queen Elizabeth. She is every bit regal, but also possesses a fantastic and wicked sense of humour.
Exile this summer on a dark and stormy night. Banoo Yasmine of Sharakand is an exiled Princess. There are several rumours floating around the court about why she and her retinue are in London, but the Queen as told Grace the truth-- her family was the victim of a bloody coup in Sharakand. The giant Heart of Kings ruby that she wears around her neck is rumoured to have magical powers, but Grace knows it's really a gift to the Queen to guarantee that the Banoo and her people can stay and be safe in England.
Of course, the ruby gets stolen and Grace is afraid the Queen won't continue to give the Banoo sanctuary without the ruby as security. The ruby is found, but it's discovered in Ellie's laundry basket. Grace knows her friend didn't steal the ruby, but Ellie's about to be in serious trouble if Grace can't find out who did steal it!
This book focuses a lot on the different customs of the people from Sharakand and how the English court reacts to these strangers. Unfortunately, Grace doesn't get to know any of these people really well-- there are language difficulties and she's trying to clear her best friend after all-- so they aren't very fleshed out and we don't get to know them very well. We just see Grace's perceptions as she observes them at dinner or passes them in the corridors. This isn't the strongest book in the series, but fans of Grace will not be disappointed.
Feud came in. The Queen is having her portrait painted, but the Queen has more important things to do than stand around all day while people paint her picture. Lady Sarah, who looks somewhat like the Queen, is standing for most of the portrait, and Grace has to sit and read to her. Grace would much rather watch the painters and learn their craft. While watching the artists, Grace learns quite a few things-- especially that certain paints are poisonous.
At the same time, an acting troupe has shown up and Lady Carmina is falling mysteriously ill. Grace suspects, but can't prove, she's being poisoned. Paints are being stolen from the work room-- if Grace can find the thief, will she find the poisoner? Who would want to harm Carmina?
The problem with this book is that a feud Carmina's family is involved in is the turning point of the plot, but it's hidden in the background. The pointers leading the the feud would have been very subtle foreshadowing and would make an almost-twist (and exciting) ending. But, alas, the book is named feud, so we know it's going to be important. The most interesting thing about this book is not the feud or the information presented about feuds. The most interesting thing is the information about the painting and artistic techniques of the Elizabethan age. This story contains more false leads than the previous mysteries and is one of the best.
Now, we just have to wait patently (ha! when I have I ever been patient?!) for Gold, and then Haunted. HURRY UP!
Also, Assassin will be out in paperback in August!