The story was great. Well written as always by Rhys Bowen. She never disappoints even when she ventures into stand-alone fiction and leaves (for a pair of seconds) her series like Her Royal Spyness and the Molly Murphy series.
We all love an underdog who fights toward an even playing field. Hard to do for a young woman in the Victorian (Queen Victoria) era. Being of gentle birth tragedy and bad luck has forced Bella Waverly ‘into service’; waking before dawn and cleaning fireplaces in every room of a large mansion. Her talent for cooking is soon made apparent and she is moved to the kitchen as an assistant. She suddenly has a once in a lifetime chance at bettering her place in life. But it’s a huge risk and will mean lying to her sovereign. Can she? – Should she do it? The tale weaves and turns to a satisfying ending and I high recommend this book to my readers.
However, the cover set my teeth on edge. The wardrobe suggested that the story was about a nurse, in the (Royal) Army Nursing Service, during the first World War and serving in India. The pinafore apron is from that era and not that of a chef. The apron for a chef/under-cook had a simple strap around the neck. Because of the nature of their work (and the women forced to wear full length sleeves), the illustrator should have placed sleeve protectors on her arms. The title was uninspired. How about: ‘The Chef and the Queen’ or ‘The Royal Chef‘ or ‘Cooking for a Queen‘.
The cover is beside the point but I couldn’t help but critique it. It’s the work of a graphic designer at the publisher not that of Ms. Bowen. The cover designer should have done their research more thoroughly. The author and the book certainly deserved better.
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