I reviewed Mr. Churchill’s Secretary sometime last year and noted that while I really enjoyed the story, I felt as though Maggie’s character lacked a little something that I hoped would be fleshed out in later books. I finally got around to the second book in this series and was really pleased that I stuck with it!
Maggie Hope is back in action as the Second World War rages on. Bracing herself for life as a spy with MI-5, Maggie soon faces the fact that she might not have the chops to make it. Her intelligence remains unparalled, but the physical strains prove too much. Dejected, Maggie fears that her career in espionage may be over until she receives a new assignment. The Royal Family is under threat and a young Princess Elizabeth is in need of a math tutor. Maggie moves in to Windsor Castle and begins her career as both a governess, and an undercover agent. With so many people bustling about to attend to the Royals, there is plenty of suspicion and potential for treachery for Maggie to investigate.
Overall, I found the plot of this novel to be much more satisfying than Book 1. We are deep into the war, and everyone has realized that no one will win easily, and so more inventive methods are used to try to gain an upper hand. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s always great to read about the monarchy, albeit from a little bit of a distance. This book forced me to get up close and personal with the future Queen as she quickly becomes a central element in the story. Elizabeth is portrayed as a young, intelligent, gracious future monarch, and acted much as I would hope or expect her to in the circumstances. I’m always wary of writer’s putting words in the mouth of historical figures, but this wasn’t so bad. On a sidenote, I always wonder what these people would think about the fictional accounts of their lives and how accurate the character sketch really is. There is inevitably a point where historical accuracy goes out the window in favour of a thrilling plot, but I’ll let that slide…
There were a few minor elements of the plot that felt predictable, but they didn’t take away from the overall strength of the story. On the flip side, there were also surprises and fresh elements along the way that kept me reading. Without spoiling anything, there is also a great twist at the end of the book that sets up the sequel, His Majesty’s Hope, that makes my mouth water.
(You may also be interested to know that MacNeal has signed a deal with her publisher for Books 4, 5, and 6.)