Royal Blood (A Royal Spyness Mystery)

Royal Blood - Rhys Bowen Vampires, wolves, and dead bodies - oh my! In the 4th book of the series, Lady Georgie finds herself in the old castle of Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) as the bridesmaid of an old school chum formerly known as Fattie Matty. Except that Georgie caught Matty (no longer fat) coming from the kitchen with what looked like blood dripping from her chin... and a strange, handsome Slavic man not part of the castle staff or wedding party keeps showing up -- once standing over her bed, looking as if he was going to bite her neck! Then the man simply disappeared into the darkness. Creepy!But Lady Georgie has been sent by His and Her Royal Highness as the English representative to this wedding. Of course, the castle is snow-bound. And of course, a dead body turns up -- the annoying and very political Field Marshall Pirin (who's been leering at Georgie and pinching maids' behinds) gives a toast at the evening castle meal with all in attendance... and he simply falls over, dead. Except that astute eyes and noses say that he was poisoned with cyanide. Or was that poison meant for the groom, Prince Nicholas? After all, Pirin grabbed Nicholas' cup of wine for the toast. (And by then Nicholas was drinking champagne.)Darcy O'Mara, is, of course, a surprise groomsman. But Georgie is ecstatic to have his handsome presence, level head, and comforting arms near. They try to thwart a possible political coup and still solve the mystery.And oh yes, Prince Siegfried is there, too. He just happens to be the bride's brother. And he's still as determined as HM to marry Lady Georgie. In fact, his father, the king, announces their engagement much to Georgie's (and everyone's) surprise. And Georgie realizes she's been royally set up. How will she get out of marrying Fishface? After all, they both know he prefers boys... even the bridesmaids know it and warn Georgie. But what's a royal to do?Georgie always does manage to find herself in a mess, doesn't she? Once again, Belinda and Georgie's mother somehow happen to be part of the party. And once again, I grow a bit tired of all the late-night corridor cruising and bed hopping. OK, this was probably the attitude of the time - it still is. But there is so much vapidity in this behavior and it doesn't seem as if anyone is truly happy in love. Are we supposed to believe that this is just how life is? Sure, if you're royal or titled, it's common to have marriages of convenience; and Siegfried isn't the only royal or titled gentleman with a predilection for other men -- and they got married and produced heirs, right? It's just that for all their bold sexuality, this set seems to be caught up in stupid rigid rules that force them all into the closet and clandestine meetings. Is it any better today? Not sure. But it does bother me to see Belinda becoming so much like Georgie's mom. And Georgie's mom constantly on the lookout for a new bed partner, while talking so negatively about Belinda and telling Georgie that she (Georgie) is boring because she doesn't behave the same way! What?But a fun book to read while the wind howls with a cup of good tea or cocoa. Georgie's life, for all that she says it's boring, has quite a bit of color and laughter. And for heaven's sakes, she and Darcy actually SEEM to be getting closer to being a couple. Maybe they can actually date in the next book?