Title/Author: Maid of Secrets (Maids of Honor #1) by Jennifer McGowan
Publisher/Date published: Simon & Schuster, May 7th 2013
How I got this book: received it from the publisher as an egalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository
Goodreads summary: Seventeen-year-old Meg Fellowes is a wry, resourceful thief forced to join an elite group of female spies in Queen Elizabeth’s Court. There she must solve a murder, save the Crown, and resist the one thing that will become her greatest freedom–and her deadliest peril.
For Meg and her fellow spies are not alone in their pursuit of the murderer who stalks Windsor Castle.
A young, mysterious Spanish courtier, Count Rafe de Martine, appears at every turn in the dark and scandal-filled corridors of the Queen’s summer palace. And though secrets and danger are Meg’s stock-in-trade, she’s never bargained on falling in love…
Ok, so you may now how I'm a huge anglophile? And I'm slightly obsessed with anything to do with English royalty of the past. So this combined in a YA historical fiction made me all excited! And I'm happy to report I was thoroughly entertained by Maid of Secrets.
Though I did have to get over the fact that I was constantly thinking 'but WHY would the queen hire a group of young girls to do all these things for her???' It seemed slightly implausible to me and I kinda struggled with this a bit throughout the novel.
But I did very much like the girls in question, especially Meg and Jane. I must say that reading books like these made me thankful for my sheltered childhood and teens, because to already have learned everything these girls know by the time they're 17? Yeah, that's kinda harsh. They've really had to made a living for themselves and are frequently involved in live-and-death type plots. And then there's the threath of imprisonment when they don't obey the queen or her councillors, who may not always have the same agenda.
I loved seeing Meg navigate her way through all of this and I was genuinely rooting for her. I liked that she's smart and street-savvy and at least TRIES to do the right thing, even if it isn't always easy. And you guys, I loved the scenes with her and Rafe! Rafe is mysterious enough to intrigue me and seems to care enough to forgive him for the not-so-decent things he sometimes pulls on Meg. And I'd really like to see more of him in the next novel!
The murder mystery and the search through the castle with all the hidden passageways and danger lurking around every corner had me turning the pages, wanting to know out exactly WHO was behind all of it. I did figure out who it was before Meg did, which was mostly due to some seemingly random scene that had me thinking there had to be MORE to this person.
This was a strong debut for Jennifer McGowan and a good start to a series, which I expect to only become better with the next books! I still have lots of questions, most of them revolving around Meg's parents, but Maid of Secrets did wrap up the storyline nicely and I'm relieved it didn't end with a cliffhanger. Highly recommended to anglophiles like me!
My rating: 4,5 stars