Thursday, January 3, 2013

REVIEW: Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal

Synopsis (from Amazon): As World War II sweeps the continent and England steels itself against German attack, Maggie Hope, former secretary to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, completes her training to become a spy for MI-5. Spirited, strong-willed, and possessing one of the sharpest minds in government for mathematics and code-breaking, she fully expects to be sent abroad to gather intelligence for the British front. Instead, to her great disappointment, she is dispatched to go undercover at Windsor Castle, where she will tutor the young Princess Elizabeth in math. Yet castle life quickly proves more dangerous—and deadly—than Maggie ever expected. The upstairs-downstairs world at Windsor is thrown into disarray by a shocking murder, which draws Maggie into a vast conspiracy that places the entire royal family in peril. And as she races to save England from a most disturbing fate, Maggie realizes that a quick wit is her best defense, and that the smallest clues can unravel the biggest secrets, even within her own family.

My Thoughts: Before I read this one I was hoping to grab the first in the series, Mr. Churchill's Secretary and read that first.  Unfortunately, time constraints and a whole lot of homework didn't allow me to do that but I was happy to find that not reading the first in the series didn't really hold me back from enjoying Princess Elizabeth's Spy, the second in the series.  Maggie Hope is a genius at math and cracking codes but she just can't seem to hack it when it comes to the physical demands of spy school.  Not wanting her talents to go to waste, she is reassigned to tutor the Princess Elizabeth in math and keep an eye out for any spies that may be lurking in Windsor Palace.

What unfolds once Maggie arrives is a super fun adventure involving murder, espionage, politics and threats to the royal family with the ever present threat of the Germans in the background.  Maggie is somewhat of a fish out water as she tries to adapt to life at Windsor and win over the catty women that inhabit the social scene at the castle.  The action kicks into high gear when one of them is murdered and Maggie must find out why and how it may be tied to the impending danger to the Princess Elizabeth.  While trying to ferret out the culprit Maggie also must deal with her feelings towards her estranged father and also the love of her life whom she believes may be dead.

I think there are two reactions to be had to this book.  Either the minor liberties the author takes to enhance the story (such as someone being shot when that did not occur in history) are going to bother the reader to the point where it gets in the way of enjoying the story or you are going to get caught up in the adventure and unforeseen twists and end up really liking it.  Yes, the plot got a little far fetched at times and I wish the character development had gone a bit deeper but I liked the story a great deal and was really bowled over by one big reveal at the end which has me chomping at the bit to read the next book in the series.  If you take this book as a good, fun, light mystery then hopefully you will end up appreciate this book as much as I did.  It is a perfect book to pick up after you've just read something heavier and need an escape.

 I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


  1. I loved this book when I read it for the TLC Book tour. Its a cozy so its more fluffy, but in many aspects it was accurate historically which gave me some insight on the life of Queen Elizabeth, without reading one of her VERY long bios! :)

  2. Thanks for the review, Holly. I've been curious about this series and the books seem to get good review. I'm really fussy about historical inaccuracies, but it all depends on how they are used to advance a story. I think I'll give this series a try.

  3. I read Churchill -- but I've heard this one is better!!