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Book Review, Mary Hart Perry, The Shadow Princess

February 8, 2014

I was excited to read Mary Hart Perry’s The Shadow Princess, the third in her series featuring Queen Victoria’s daughters, in large part because Vicky, the heroine of this book, has always fascinated me (too much time watching “Edward the King” on Netflix, I suspect). The book opens with Vicky mourning the death of her husband, the Emperor of Germany, and she receives a visit from her niece Maud, who begs her to come home to England. Jack the Ripper has just begun his reign of terror through Whitechapel, and Maud fears the worst, as the Metropolitan Police suspect that her brother Eddy, next in line for the British throne, could be Jack.

Vicky returns home and meets Detective Inspector Thomas Edmonson, who is investigating the Ripper, and finds herself coming back to life as she becomes more and more involved in investigating the case. She also can’t help but notice how attractive Edmonson is, even though he is a good decade younger than she is. I loved the fact that Vicky is 48 years old here, and not the typical romance novel heroine (where 29 is the new 21, etc.) Vicky and Thomas grow closer together as they investigate the murders, although Vicky’s involvement will place she and her nieces Maud and Sophie into danger as Jack continues his murder spree.

I admit I came to this book really wanting it to be a mystery novel instead of a romance—Empress Vicky and DI Edmonson solve murders!—especially since Perry handled the Ripper material so well that I think she could pull off the mystery genre too. I did have some problems with Vicky and Thomas’ romance. While I loved to see Vicky get her groove back, so to speak, there were times where she verges on what the reviewers over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books call the “Too Stupid to Live” heroine: running off to Whitechapel despite having just yelled at her nieces for doing the same thing, following a reporter into the streets after Jack, fainting over corpses, and just happening to run Jack over with a carriage at just the right moment? There was also one occasion where a character used language that was grossly anachronistic (Macnaughten’s use of “give a sorry fuck”). I also could have done without Thomas’ angsty backstory, as it didn’t seem necessary to his emotional development.

All in all, however, Perry has a gift for keeping the plot moving, and I didn’t put my Kindle down until I had finished the story. I enjoyed watching the characters grow closer together and was truly creeped out (in a good way) by Perry’s take on Jack’s identity. I plan on checking out the first two books in the series as well, and hope that Perry continues with this series of novels.

Source: ARC from the publisher via NetGalley

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