Friday, February 14, 2014

The Shadow Princess by Mary Hart Perry

The Basics:
The Shadow Princess by Mary Hart Perry
Diversion Books
Third in a series of books about Queen Victoria's Daughters
Historical Romance, Mystery
Published February 9, 2014
Source: Received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

I love historical romance, I love the Victorian period. I've read quite a bit about Jack the Ripper.


To catch one of history’s most notorious killers, a princess risks losing her family, her life—and her heart…

London, 1888: A year after Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee terror mounts in the city's slums. A killer has butchered two prostitutes, the crimes brutal even by London’s hardened standards. Rumors of the murders reach Princess Vicky, daughter of Queen Victoria and grieving widow of the German Emperor Frederick III. When her niece Princess Maud visits, she brings with her even worse news--the Metropolitan Police have a suspect. It’s Vicky’s nephew, Crown Prince Eddy. Desperate to clear her family's name, Vicky rushes back to England.
Detective Inspector Thomas Edmondson believes there is a royal cover-up behind the killings. He will stop at nothing to expose the truth and bring a murderer to justice before he can kill again. But when Vicky joins him in searching for the man who will become known as Jack the Ripper, neither of them foresee the overpowering attraction that will draw together the royal and the commoner—or the danger their love puts them in.

My thoughts:

When I started reading this book, I was immediately thrown off by having a 48 year-old woman as my heroine. I don't know why I have resistance to reading about older main characters - personal preference, I guess. As it turned out, I found Vicky not only very relatable (for an Empress...) but rather endearing. It's been almost a year since her husband passed away, and Vicky's lonely and lacking a purpose. She's given herself up to the mourning process - something her mother, Queen Victoria, was notoriously proficient at in the wake of Prince Albert's death.  

When her niece, Maud, asks her to come aid the Royal Family in heading off rumors about Eddy, the Crown Prince, and his involvement in the brutal murders of prostitues in London's Whitechapel, Vicky is given a new lease on life. 

She's earnest, self-deprecating, kind. She yearns for companionship, and she's got a pretty strong backbone too. 

Thomas, the detective investigator handling the Ripper case, is also pretty awesome. He's completely focused on his work, putting in long hours and foregoing sleep to see justice done. He's considerate of Vicky and completely in awe of her and I loved that about him. 

I wasn't as interested in Vicky's daughter and niece and their escapades. I think I needed a little bit more to wrap them up or... something? I don't know. 

I liked that this book was conscious of class issues, that some of the characters were unabashedly class-ist, as they would have been in reality. The interplay between Thomas and Vicky was also tinged by this and the differences between them made their attraction a little heartbreaking. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it even knowing that Vicky had to return to her life in Germany.

The handling of the Ripper murders was also interesting - the role of the newspapers in whipping up public concern was particularly well handled. Overall, I was pretty impressed with the historical aspects of the story. Yes, liberties are taken - I cannot envision members of the Royal Family running around trying to solve murders for any reason - but that's kind of the fun of the story.

Bottom line:

The Shadow Princess is an enjoyable romp through Victorian London. There's attraction across classes, there's princesses pushing at the rules that confine them, there's a murder mystery! 

I recommend this one if you like historical romance and/or mysteries. There's enough of either element to satisfy, I think.

4 stars
For fans of historical romance, mysteries, Jack the Ripper

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