ABOVE THE BAY OF ANGELS by Rhys Bowen will be published on February 11th 2020 by Lake Union Publishing.
Due to a few unfortunate twists of fate, Isabella Waverly goes from living a life of leisure as an aristocrat to working as a scullery made for a new-money family. Isabella is trying to find an escape from her new life of drudgery when she witnesses a woman being run over by a horse-drawn wagon in London. The woman – Helen Barton – was carrying an offer of employment to work as a cook in the royal kitchen. Knowing this may be her only chance, Isabella assumes Helen’s identity and is hired as a cook in Queen Victoria’s royal kitchen. Isabella does everything she can to learn more about cooking and soon discovers a talent at making pastries and other desserts. Things seem to be working out for Isabella when the threat of blackmail and the unfortunate poisoning of a royal threaten to expose her true identity.
ABOVE THE BAY OF ANGELS was an interesting, well researched novel. Rhys Bowen brings to life Victorian England and Nice – especially through the types of dishes that were served to Queen Victoria and the other royals as well as the servants who worked in the royal household. I was a little disappointed in the novel – the description of the novel makes it sound like it is a mystery novel. A royal dies after consuming a poisoned meal, and Isabella is the top suspect because she is the one who prepared the meal. It took a long time to get to the poisoning – a third or even a fourth of the way through the novel – and Isabella very quickly proved her innocence by finding the real killer. Even though the description of the novel implies there is a mystery, the mystery is not the main focus of the novel. The story up to the murder – even though it was interesting – dragged out for me. I’ve read nearly all of Rhys Bowen’s novels, and I can say that this is probably my least favorite simply because nothing overly exciting seems to happen throughout the middle chunk of the novel.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.