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Publisher's Summary

Susan Elia MacNeal introduced the remarkable Maggie Hope in her acclaimed debut, Mr. Churchill's Secretary. Now Maggie returns to protect Britain's beloved royals against an international plot - one that could change the course of history.

As World War II sweeps the continent and England steels itself against German attack, Maggie Hope, former secretary to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, completes her training to become a spy for MI-5. Spirited, strong-willed, and possessing one of the sharpest minds in government for mathematics and code-breaking, she fully expects to be sent abroad to gather intelligence for the British front. Instead, to her great disappointment, she is dispatched to go undercover at Windsor Castle, where she will tutor the young Princess Elizabeth in math. Yet castle life quickly proves more dangerous - and deadly - than Maggie ever expected.

The upstairs-downstairs world at Windsor is thrown into disarray by a shocking murder, which draws Maggie into a vast conspiracy that places the entire royal family in peril. And as she races to save England from a most disturbing fate, Maggie realizes that a quick wit is her best defense, and that the smallest clues can unravel the biggest secrets, even within her own family.

©2012 Susan Elia Macneal (P)2012 Random House Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    325
  • 4 Stars
    262
  • 3 Stars
    131
  • 2 Stars
    40
  • 1 Stars
    32

Performance

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    281
  • 4 Stars
    173
  • 3 Stars
    109
  • 2 Stars
    59
  • 1 Stars
    94

Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    319
  • 4 Stars
    230
  • 3 Stars
    117
  • 2 Stars
    31
  • 1 Stars
    10
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • James
  • OCEAN, NJ, United States
  • 10-31-13

I wish I would have read the reviews before buying

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Utter disappointment. The reader's irritating "up speak" distracted so much from the author's words that I found myself cringing as the end of each sentence approached. This, together with the delivery of every line with the same plodding lack of emotion, ruined the book for me. I enjoyed Mr. Churchill's Secretary and couldn't wait to listen to the next in the series. Regrettably, I didn't pay attention to the fact that there was a different reader or read the reviews before purchasing.

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  • Kim
  • South Bend, IN, United States
  • 10-23-13

Narrator voice is a HUGE distraction.

What did you like best about Princess Elizabeth's Spy? What did you like least?

This should be a pleasant light read, but the narration is so distracting that I almost had to stop listening.

What other book might you compare Princess Elizabeth's Spy to and why?

Pretty similar to the Rhys Bowen series.

What didn’t you like about Susan Duerden’s performance?

There are problems with the narration. The weird breathiness was the first thing that I noticed. It sounded like she was narrating a dream sequence. It wasn't long before I noticed the very strange cadence that marked every sentence of the third person narration. It was kind of like she was a BBC newsreader. Very strange and distracting to the point that I almost stopped listening. But I paid for the download and I felt compelled to finish. The other very annoying thing was her interpretation of Maggie's voice. There is a tendency for some British actors to make their Americans sound like idiots, but this one was over the top. It sounded much like the voice of the "Barbie" doll in the Toy Story animated movies. Maggie is a mathematics genius, not a bimbo. It made me laugh when she would say something technical, because it was so ridiculous to hear that voice citing math theory. I thought maybe I was being hard on Ms. Duerden, thinking she was directed to have her voice have the weird monotone, breathy cadence,so I went and listened to a sample of some of her other books. Unfortunately, they were the same. So, if I want to read the rest of the series, I will probably get the books from the library.

Did Princess Elizabeth's Spy inspire you to do anything?

Avoid Susan Duerden narrations.

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  • rachel
  • NORTHFIELD, MN, United States
  • 10-16-13

So-so book, terrible narration

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I like historical mysteries, but I found this predictable and not very engaging. The narration was so irritating I almost quit part way through and returned it. So listen carefully before you invest.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Unfortunately I can't rate it below one star.

What would have made Princess Elizabeth's Spy better?

Honestly, I could not tell you anything about this book because the narrator was sooo horrible. I loved the first Maggie Hope book, and was really looking forward to this one but could not make it through the first hour of the book. The narrator had a habit of ending sentences on a higher note almost like she was asking a question or announcing an award. This is really ineffective when you are try to talk about a serious or sombre subject. She was terrible with the different voices, and listening to her was .....painful. I am normally not so negative, and have suffered through so-so and below par narration because the story was good. This however, was intolerable.

What do you think your next listen will be?

I'm going to listen to Firebird but can't wait for My Heart's Own Blood and the Century Trilogy Book #3.

Would you be willing to try another one of Susan Duerden’s performances?

NEVER!

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Couldn't tell - the narration was too bad to get that far.

  • Overall
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  • Story

The narrator was so distracting!

What did you love best about Princess Elizabeth's Spy?

I loved the first book and the narrator was fantastic. I should have taken a closer look at the reviews and just bought the second book instead of buying the audiobook. I am having a difficult time not being overwhelmingly distracted by Susan Duerden's manner of speaking. While I was listening to this audiobook, my 12 year old daughter walked in the house with no prior knowledge of this book or my opinion of the narrator and said "What's wrong with her voice? Why is she talking like that?" Wanda McCaddon, the narrator of the first book, does a terrific job of bringing Maggie Hope into my living room. The version of Maggie Hope I discovered in Book 2 seemed flighty, breathless, insecure, and overly "girlish." I don't believe that Maggie actually changed between Books 1 and 2, but it did illustrate to me how very different a character might seem depending on the narrator.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Susan Duerden?

Wanda McCaddon!

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  • Carrie
  • Cambridge, MA United States
  • 09-21-13

Great story, monotonous voice

Would you be willing to try another one of Susan Duerden’s performances?

I got this book because I very much enjoyed the first Maggie Hope mystery. As far as I can tell, this story is similarly good, but the narrator's intonations make it difficult to lose oneself in the story. The timbre of the voice is fine. However, every. single. sentence. is spoken with the same intonation: a rising inflection near the end, leaving the listener with the feeling the phrase is unfinished. There is some variation in tones when the characters are speaking, but other than that the inflections are regrettably unvaried. Unfortunately I already purchased the third Maggie Hope mystery read by this narrator, but I will be avoiding her in the future.

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  • chris
  • Victoria, BC, Canada
  • 09-13-13

Difficult to rate story

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A different reader?

Would you be willing to try another book from Susan Elia MacNeal? Why or why not?

I enjoyed the first one I listened to. I will just find a hard copy and enjoy that.

How could the performance have been better?

to me the reader tried to make ever line suspense filled...tiresome.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

As i mentioned I could not continue listening.

Any additional comments?

In all the years i have been an audible listener this is only the second book I could not listen to.

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Good story; awful narrator

Whoever Susan Duerden is, she has no future as a book narrator - she reads in a monotonous and twee fashion that is more suitable to announcing the bus schedules for British Rail than reading a fast-paced and well plotted book.

I really enjoy the 1920s-30s-40s female-centric mysteries (Maisie Dobbs; Lady Georgiana etc.) (that all seem to be written by American women BTW) and quite enjoyed the first book of the Maggie Hope series, read by a different narrator, so was looking forward to the next book. That narrator wasn`t wonderful but she wasn`t completely horrible.

Unfortunately, despite it being a good read, full of bright characters and strong plot, the narration put me off so thoroughly that I abandoned listening to it and checked the book out of the library.

  • Overall
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Like Listening to the News

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I was so excited to get the second installment in this series. And then...the narrator. I took me a few chapters to pinpoint what was bothering me about her and then I realized: It's as if she's reading the news. The odd phrasing, the overdone dramatic pitch of her voice. <br/>

  • Overall
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annoying reader..

What would have made Princess Elizabeth's Spy better?

A different reader would have made a big difference... this reader has an annoying habit of ending every sentence the same way; as if she questioning it.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Her speech pattern is really annoying; I tried really hard to get past it, but I never got past Chapter 6, and it was hard to listen to it that long.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I like the characters, the plot was good, and I was looking forward to what Maggie would find out about her parents. The plot twist at the end is a great lead-in to Book 3, but now I am afraid to invest in another book that might have such an annoying reader.

Any additional comments?

I held out as far as Chapter 6, then I gave up and bought the book. I really enjoyed the book, but I listen as I work, so I wasn't able to hear the story. Very disappointing.