The Lady Grace Mysteries Betrayal
This is the latest offering to the teenage "chic-lit" genre in the steps of the "Princess Diaries". Hitherto, it forms part of a series of three books supposedly written by Lady Grace Cavendish, who was a teenage fictional maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth I. Grace along with her friend Masou, a Muslim acrobat, and Ellie, the laundry maid, specialises in solving mysteries.
The book is set in 1569/70 and begins with a visit to the royal dockyards. Here another maid of honour, Lady Sarah Bartelmay, falls for Drake. Lady Sarah being a "teenage temptress" and Drake being a "bit of a lad" they set up a wild flirtation. This results in a lot of typical teen dialogue between Sarah and Grace on the subject of Sarah's new boyfriend's looks, personality and other attributes, along with discussions on clothes, hair, make-up, spots and what the Queen is likely to do, say and think. Then Sarah disappears!
Grace is convinced that she has eloped with Drake. She and Masou set off to find Sarah and rescue her before the Queen finds out. Disguised as a boy, Grace and Masou go down to Tilbury and sneak aboard the Judith where they think Sarah, having been forced to elope, is being hidden. However while they are snooping around, the Judith sets sail. Now they realise that Sarah is not aboard! Adopting the guise of Sarah's pageboy, Gregory, Grace and Masou confess to Drake. The three quickly deduce that Sarah has been kidnapped by Drake's friend and fellow sea captain Hugh Derby and they give chase in the Judith. They find Derby's ship the Silver Arrow embroiled in a fight with a Spanish galleon and miraculously capture both ships. Lady Sarah is rescued and all end happily.
Grace and Sarah return to court and Drake realises, at a court function, that Grace and Gregory are the same person! They wink at each other and laugh, and it is obvious that a friendship has been formed and that Drake will become an honorary member of the sleuthing group in some of the future novels.
I must admit that I enjoyed the story. I have read many books about Drake aimed at teenagers, but they are usually set at a later date, with Drake usually playing a more mature and avuncular role; so it is refreshing to read a book where Drake, himself, is not much older than the main characters and is a part of a sleuthing team.
Patricia Finney has obviously based her description of the youthful Drake upon the miniature at Buckland Abbey. She gives an excellent character sketch of Drake by mainly presenting him through the eyes of Grace, who, at first, hates him - believing that he is Sarah's abductor. She then comes to respect and to like him, by showing his prowess as a naval commander; his care of his men; his navigational skills; his ability to paint; his basic kindliness and decency; and his sense of humour. Patricia Finney describes a Drake whom a teenage girl would like to know - even throwing in a bit of macho sex appeal.
The first person writing style is crisp and authoritative. Some Elizabethan words and expressions are freely used. These are explained in the glossary at the back of the book. Patricia Finney has obviously conducted some meticulous research. She gives an excellent description of life at Elizabeth's court and aboard a galleon. Finney is especially amusing when Grace needs the loo; sees the mess that Drake has made of his paints in his cabin and, finds out that sails have to be removed from the locker room very carefully because the ship's cat is having kittens therein. The funniest part of the book is near the end, when Sarah realises that Drake is not the great romantic hero that she imagines him to be. The dialogue between Drake and Sarah is so typically Drake that it is evident that Patricia Finney has done some very careful research on Drake. He says that the finest thing which a man can have is a ship and not a wife; that he is ambitious to sail the seas, rather than ambitious for a wealthy-born wife and that if he had to get married, and he supposed he had better consider it, then he would ask his cousin, Mr Newman for his daughter's hand for she is amiable, pretty enough, used to sailors and a good housekeeper. When asked by practical unromantic Grace if love came into the equation, Drake replied that he did not think so. Teenage girls at this point will fully identify with Sarah's scornful snort and her comment "Men!"
This book has received good reviews in teenage magazines and is enjoyed by those young at heart with a sense of humour and a sense of history.