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A Royal Affair

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More goes wrong than could be imagined when Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau are unexpectedly engaged to dig into the past of a suitor of a royal princess in Allison Montclair’s delightful second novel, A Royal Affair. In London 1946, The Right Sort Marriage Bureau is just beginning to take off and the proprietors, Miss Iris Sparks and More goes wrong than could be imagined when Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau are unexpectedly engaged to dig into the past of a suitor of a royal princess in Allison Montclair’s delightful second novel, A Royal Affair. In London 1946, The Right Sort Marriage Bureau is just beginning to take off and the proprietors, Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, are in need of a bigger office and a secretary to handle the growing demand. Unfortunately, they don't yet have the necessary means. So when a woman arrives—a cousin of Gwen's—with an interesting and quite remunerative proposition, they two of them are all ears. The cousin, one Lady Matheson, works for the Queen in "some capacity" and is in need of some discreet investigation. It seems that the Princess Elizabeth has developed feelings for a dashing Greek prince and a blackmail note has arrived, alluding to some potentially damaging information about said prince. Wanting to keep this out of the palace gossip circles, but also needing to find out what skeletons might lurk in the prince's closet, the palace has quietly turned to Gwen and Iris. Without causing a stir, the two of them must now find out what secrets lurk in the prince's past, before his engagement to the future Queen of England is announced. And there's more at stake than the future of the Empire —there is their potential new office that lies in the balance.


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More goes wrong than could be imagined when Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau are unexpectedly engaged to dig into the past of a suitor of a royal princess in Allison Montclair’s delightful second novel, A Royal Affair. In London 1946, The Right Sort Marriage Bureau is just beginning to take off and the proprietors, Miss Iris Sparks and More goes wrong than could be imagined when Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau are unexpectedly engaged to dig into the past of a suitor of a royal princess in Allison Montclair’s delightful second novel, A Royal Affair. In London 1946, The Right Sort Marriage Bureau is just beginning to take off and the proprietors, Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, are in need of a bigger office and a secretary to handle the growing demand. Unfortunately, they don't yet have the necessary means. So when a woman arrives—a cousin of Gwen's—with an interesting and quite remunerative proposition, they two of them are all ears. The cousin, one Lady Matheson, works for the Queen in "some capacity" and is in need of some discreet investigation. It seems that the Princess Elizabeth has developed feelings for a dashing Greek prince and a blackmail note has arrived, alluding to some potentially damaging information about said prince. Wanting to keep this out of the palace gossip circles, but also needing to find out what skeletons might lurk in the prince's closet, the palace has quietly turned to Gwen and Iris. Without causing a stir, the two of them must now find out what secrets lurk in the prince's past, before his engagement to the future Queen of England is announced. And there's more at stake than the future of the Empire —there is their potential new office that lies in the balance.

30 review for A Royal Affair

  1. 4 out of 5

    Barb in Maryland

    A quick read of the blurb will reveal that the author is involving real people, who are of note and who are still living, in the plot of this book. I did cringe a bit when I first read the book description because I am not a fan of such ploys and I worried about how the author would handle it. I am happy to report that it was handled fairly well--my cringe was reduced to some heavy eye-rolling. The emotional core of the book centers on our two heroines: their individual journeys toward emotional A quick read of the blurb will reveal that the author is involving real people, who are of note and who are still living, in the plot of this book. I did cringe a bit when I first read the book description because I am not a fan of such ploys and I worried about how the author would handle it. I am happy to report that it was handled fairly well--my cringe was reduced to some heavy eye-rolling. The emotional core of the book centers on our two heroines: their individual journeys toward emotional stability and their mutual maturation as friends. I dearly love Iris and Gwen; their conversations were a delight to read, their interactions a joy to behold. (The scenes between Gwen and her young son Ronnie are also wonderful.) These parts of the book are 5 star worthy. The plot, with its double-crosses, twists, turns, and large cast of characters, came close to being too convoluted. However, the climactic scene, where all is revealed, was great fun, even if it was a bit over the top. I was in the mood to go with the flow and enjoyed the show. The very final scene is where I did my 'oh good grief, really?' eye-rolling. Believable? not at all! but after keeping the real people off the page for the entire book I suspect the author just could not resist. All in all, I was satisfied. But I was not bowled over, as I had been by the first book (The Right Sort of Man). It will be interesting to see what the author comes up with for the next book. I am looking forward to it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    The Lit Bitch

    After reading the first book in this new historical mystery series last year at about this same time, I was eager to read the next installment and see how well the next mystery satisfied. I remembered really enjoying the relationship between the two main characters, Iris and Gwen. I thought they were funny and paired well together so I was eager to see how that translated in this latest mystery. The other thing that I thought sounded so much fun was this book was that this time the mystery was to After reading the first book in this new historical mystery series last year at about this same time, I was eager to read the next installment and see how well the next mystery satisfied. I remembered really enjoying the relationship between the two main characters, Iris and Gwen. I thought they were funny and paired well together so I was eager to see how that translated in this latest mystery. The other thing that I thought sounded so much fun was this book was that this time the mystery was to include members of the royal family. This latest mystery started off really strong. There was a lot of same humor and quirks from the main characters that I recalled loving in the first book. There was also the pull of the royal price vetting and the history of Prince Phillip and his family which I didn’t know too much about so that made it even more fun. But then as the mystery started to get more complex, I noticed that the humor tapered off which was a little disappointing but perhaps necessary considering, though I would have liked some of the hallmark humor to hold fast through the book. With the mystery itself, there were quite a few people involved and a bunch of different people that could have had motives and I thought that added a lot of twists and suspicions. I think it will keep readers guessing and trying to figure everything out all the way until the end. As this is the second book in the series, I suggest going back and reading the first book. While it might not be wholly necessary, I think it will help orientate the readers with the characters and their lives, meaning specifically Iris and Gwen. Seeing as how it’s only the one book prior to this one, I would recommend reading book one first and then trying this one out. I love the post war feel of this book and I think the author does a great job capturing that time period and adding some fun historical facts to a great mystery. This is an exciting new mystery series and I am looking forward to more books from her! See my full review here

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    I enjoyed the first book in the series The Right Sort of Man so I was eager to read the second book A Royal Affair. I have been debating between a 3 star and or a 4 star rating. The three star due to the book was slow for me and didn't hold my interest. The four star due to the characters of Gwen Bainbridge and Iris Sparks. They met after the war and have set up a matrimony service for clients who are in search of a partner for marriage. Gwen is an aristocrat who has been widowed due to WW2. She I enjoyed the first book in the series The Right Sort of Man so I was eager to read the second book A Royal Affair. I have been debating between a 3 star and or a 4 star rating. The three star due to the book was slow for me and didn't hold my interest. The four star due to the characters of Gwen Bainbridge and Iris Sparks. They met after the war and have set up a matrimony service for clients who are in search of a partner for marriage. Gwen is an aristocrat who has been widowed due to WW2. She has a young son and is living with her in-laws. She is a perceptive measured person. Iris, on the other hand, was a spy during WW2 and can take care of herself and situations that she finds herself in. They have become great friends and the humor between them is one of the best part of the books for me. Another person is Sally who Iris met through her spy career. His physical appearance is that of a body guard but he has a secret love of the theater. He calls himself an odd-job man for the two women. He is also a friend and adds to the series. They are contacted by the palace to check out the future Prince Phillip as a threatening letter was sent to Princess Elizabeth. The letter was intercepted before it reached her. They are hired to find out what the letter means and if there there is a hidden scandal that could hurt the Crown. So I am giving the book a three star as it was slow for me even though I liked many things about it. I will read the next book to see what Gwen, Iris and their pal Sally get up to next.

  4. 4 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Two unusual women ... and intrigue! This continuation of the series is as good as its predecessor. London 1946 and The Right Sort Marriage Bureau owners Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge who were both affected by the war, although in different ways find themselves investigating a potential groom in a whole new way. Both women have their own devils to conquer. Their joint business venture is one way of moving forward. But this is something from left field. Gwen seems like a privileged ex debutan Two unusual women ... and intrigue! This continuation of the series is as good as its predecessor. London 1946 and The Right Sort Marriage Bureau owners Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge who were both affected by the war, although in different ways find themselves investigating a potential groom in a whole new way. Both women have their own devils to conquer. Their joint business venture is one way of moving forward. But this is something from left field. Gwen seems like a privileged ex debutante, wife and mother, but she'd done a stint in a sanatorium when the love of her life was killed, leaving her small son Ronnie in the care of her in-laws. They are now a major problem! Who are these Iris and Gwen? There's an air of desperation in both them. They have both served their country in unusual ways. That's left a mark. Both have hidden scars. When Gwen's cousin Lady Matheson asks them on behalf of the Palace to investigate the man who's captured Princess Elizabeth's heart, one Prince Philip of Greece, they take the assignment. They need the money. They're loyal citizens and after all it pretty much the same game except the groom has already been chosen. When the princess becomes Queen, the Palace wants no skeletons appearing from the closet. An investigation, a plot and 'surprise, surprise,' a body, possibly murder, has them sharpening up their investigative skills in a whole new way. Another cracker of a tale! I so enjoy these two! A St. Martin's Press ARC via NetGalley

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I quite enjoyed this second book in this new series. Sparks and Bainbridge are two friends who run a marriage bureau. This seems to be a forerunner of a dating site but apparently more serious. They get paid when people actually get married. Sparks worked in intelligence during the War and it's with this background and Bainbridge's top society connections that they get called in by the palace to investigate a possible blackmail in Princess Elizabeth's budding romance with Prince Phillip. There i I quite enjoyed this second book in this new series. Sparks and Bainbridge are two friends who run a marriage bureau. This seems to be a forerunner of a dating site but apparently more serious. They get paid when people actually get married. Sparks worked in intelligence during the War and it's with this background and Bainbridge's top society connections that they get called in by the palace to investigate a possible blackmail in Princess Elizabeth's budding romance with Prince Phillip. There is a scheme afoot trying to blacken Prince Phillip's reputation and the team is called in to see if there's any truth in the rumors. There are secret meetings, a murder and several complicated twists including the leader of a local Gang and Spark's new love interest, a Greek undercover agent and the British Secret Service. Meanwhile the girls are trying to rent a larger office, regain their emotional stability and start piecing their lives together after the War. This is a fun, complicated plot. The only thing I didn't like is when the voices between the two women where changed it was quite abrupt. There was no indication of when it was happening like a new chapter or even a page indentation. I thought that flow could have been smoother. In fairness, the final versions many have that so it's hard to judge. I plan to keep reading the adventures of these two spunky women so bravely creating a new life. Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Cole

    Having enjoyed the first book in the series, The Right Sort of Man, a great deal, I looked forward to A Royal Affair with a great deal of anticipation. I am so happy to say that this second book met and exceeded all my expectations. Isn't it great when that happens? Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge are two excellent characters. They both bring completely different skill sets to the table. Gwen is widowed, with a young son who is in the custody of his rich, titled grandparents. Gwen loved her husba Having enjoyed the first book in the series, The Right Sort of Man, a great deal, I looked forward to A Royal Affair with a great deal of anticipation. I am so happy to say that this second book met and exceeded all my expectations. Isn't it great when that happens? Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge are two excellent characters. They both bring completely different skill sets to the table. Gwen is widowed, with a young son who is in the custody of his rich, titled grandparents. Gwen loved her husband with all her being, and when he was killed, she fell to pieces and spent some time in a sanatarium. Her mother-in-law is never going to let her forget this or willingly give up control of her grandson. Gwen is determined to prove that she's capable of raising her son. She brings knowledge of the upper classes (and all that entails) along with her intelligence and finely tuned intuition to the partnership with Iris Sparks. Iris Sparks is a Cambridge graduate whose past is shrouded in all sorts of things, not least the Official Secrets Act. She's out of the spy business, but she brings that bag of tricks, her quick intelligence, and sense of humor to The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. The women have become fast friends-- almost sisters. Gwen is the perfect choice to help Iris with her PTSD, and Iris knows how to deal with Gwen's grief. Their repartee is one of the joys of A Royal Affair. It's light, it's witty, it's quick, and the pages turn faster and faster. With a finely crafted, intricate plot that reminded me of "The Sting" from time to time, one thing was obvious: Sparks' past in the spy business was going to be an integral part of the story. That made me worry. You see, I don't really like spy stories. What I prefer are characters who are out of the business yet able to use their skillsets for straightforward, honest good, not some shadowy, convoluted outcome with neither heart nor morals. I was so relieved at how Montclair dealt with all the spy shenanigans! In fact, I was enchanted by the entire book. If you're in the mood for something light and witty, something that has some meat on its bones, some solid historical research, and a tightly woven plot...something that's Pure-D Fun to read, pick up a copy of A Royal Affair. Better yet, begin at the beginning with The Right Sort of Man (even though A Royal Affair stands alone well). You really shouldn't miss an opportunity to spend time with Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge. Now begins the hard slog of waiting for book three. (Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Net Galley)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    A ROYAL AFFAIR By Allison Montclair “A Royal Affair” is the second in the Sparks and Bainbridge series, and what a wonderful and enjoyable read this one was for me. I really enjoy a fantastic cozy and this one was a really fun read. I did not have the chance to read book one, but did not hinder my enjoying the characters and I feel that it worked well as a stand alone. I will be reading book one since I fell in love with the characters in this book. This book had it all from a twisty mystery, to qu A ROYAL AFFAIR By Allison Montclair “A Royal Affair” is the second in the Sparks and Bainbridge series, and what a wonderful and enjoyable read this one was for me. I really enjoy a fantastic cozy and this one was a really fun read. I did not have the chance to read book one, but did not hinder my enjoying the characters and I feel that it worked well as a stand alone. I will be reading book one since I fell in love with the characters in this book. This book had it all from a twisty mystery, to quirky funny and lovable characters, a well written historical detail, and the right amount of funny I loved. I am looking forward to the third book in the series releasing summer of 2021. Allison Montclair has quickly become a favorite.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Whitney

    Thank you to the publisher for the free e-galley. A Royal Affair follows the hilarious and exciting post-WW2 adventures of Iris and Gwen, owners of the Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Iris, an ex-spy, and Gwen, an aristocratic war widow and single mother, seem to come from different spheres of society. But their deep camaraderie and snappy dialogue make the story shine. The first half of the book is spent unwinding political histories and secrets, and the dead body doesn't show up til about halfway Thank you to the publisher for the free e-galley. A Royal Affair follows the hilarious and exciting post-WW2 adventures of Iris and Gwen, owners of the Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Iris, an ex-spy, and Gwen, an aristocratic war widow and single mother, seem to come from different spheres of society. But their deep camaraderie and snappy dialogue make the story shine. The first half of the book is spent unwinding political histories and secrets, and the dead body doesn't show up til about halfway through. Then the women realize that more is at stake than just a princess' love interest. There's plenty of intrigue here for fans of the royal family, and the political side does get a bit complicated if one isn't familiar with mid-20th century European history. The ending comes to a very dramatic end (literally, lots of drama), and it doesn't offer any alternate histories of Queen Elizabeth's love life. This was an enjoyable, satisfying read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    This book really picked up for me and I was worried because I get touchy with fiction involving the queen's marriage, and Princess Alice was a genuinely good person and I did not want her besmirched. But this did not do that and we got great character advancement for Gwen and Iris and the stuff with Gwen and Sally ramped up and made me happy. I really like these books. This book really picked up for me and I was worried because I get touchy with fiction involving the queen's marriage, and Princess Alice was a genuinely good person and I did not want her besmirched. But this did not do that and we got great character advancement for Gwen and Iris and the stuff with Gwen and Sally ramped up and made me happy. I really like these books.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeannine

    I loved this book originally, but finding out that Allison Montclair is a pseudonym being used by established author Alan Gordon makes me annoyed. I am irritated by a male author publishing under a female name when women were *forced* to do this in the past because of gender bias.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau are enlisted to investigate the prince about to be engaged to Princess Elizabeth. It takes them on a dangerous, deadly, and sometimes hilarious journey to find the truth. I'm not much of a royal watcher but I did enjoy how these ladies outsmarted many men in this intriguing mystery. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau are enlisted to investigate the prince about to be engaged to Princess Elizabeth. It takes them on a dangerous, deadly, and sometimes hilarious journey to find the truth. I'm not much of a royal watcher but I did enjoy how these ladies outsmarted many men in this intriguing mystery.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Niki (mustreadalltheromance)

    In 1946, Post-War London, Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge are finding that their risk-taking is paying off and their fledgling business, The Right Sort Marriage Bureau, is beginning to take off. In fact, they could use a secretary and a bigger office, but they don't yet have enough capital for the expansion. So, when a well-connected cousin of Gwen's arrives with an intriguing and lucrative task, they're happy to hear her out. Gwen's cousin, Lady Matheson, is mysterious and tight-l In 1946, Post-War London, Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge are finding that their risk-taking is paying off and their fledgling business, The Right Sort Marriage Bureau, is beginning to take off. In fact, they could use a secretary and a bigger office, but they don't yet have enough capital for the expansion. So, when a well-connected cousin of Gwen's arrives with an intriguing and lucrative task, they're happy to hear her out. Gwen's cousin, Lady Matheson, is mysterious and tight-lipped about the "capacity" in which she serves the Queen and she needs someone vetted, discreetly. The young Princess Elizabeth hopes to marry a Greek prince and a blackmail note has just been sent to her threatening the revelation of damaging information about that very prince. The Crown needs the prince investigated but without asking questions that could ignite gossip, so Gwen and Iris are quietly enlisted. With a short timeline before the prince's likely proposal, these two must uncover any secrets buried in the prince's past if they have any hope of expanding their business, and ensuring the good of the realm, of course. It is exceedingly rare that I read anything other than romance, however, I was intrigued by this author's debut and wound up loving it, so I'm keen to follow her work now. This book had a slightly different feel than its predecessor, but was just as enjoyable and very well-written. I definitely don't have enough knowledge of this period of history to get everything I was supposed to get out of this book, but that just makes me want to read up and learn more. Gwen and Iris are a fantastic duo and probably one of the best female teams I've ever come across. Their banter is top notch, delightful to read, and I loved that they were always at least one step ahead of the other players in this mystery. This book had me alternately laughing and tearing up and I adored the mystery with its many facets. U need to go back and reread now so I can get everything I missed the first time around. This was an excellent follow-up and I can't wait to see what Gwen and Iris get up to next. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan in NC

    4.5 stars - no sophomore slump for this second in a favorite new historical mystery series, only a rather unrealistic ending kept it from a full 5 stars. War widow Gwen Bainbridge and former spy Iris Sparks have become friends and formed the Right Sort Marriage Bureau in postwar London. The time and setting are accurately evoked with rationing, burned out bomb sites still uncleared, and geopolitical issues. Among these are the postwar jostling for power in England and Greece; communists, pro-mona 4.5 stars - no sophomore slump for this second in a favorite new historical mystery series, only a rather unrealistic ending kept it from a full 5 stars. War widow Gwen Bainbridge and former spy Iris Sparks have become friends and formed the Right Sort Marriage Bureau in postwar London. The time and setting are accurately evoked with rationing, burned out bomb sites still uncleared, and geopolitical issues. Among these are the postwar jostling for power in England and Greece; communists, pro-monarchists and others are trying to help or hinder the budding romance between Prince Philip of Greece and heir to the throne, Princess Elizabeth. Meanwhile, British special services (run by Iris’ wartime boss, the curmudgeonly Brigadier) are hunting communists who may have infiltrated the Palace. Iris and Gwen receive a visit from Patience, an aristocratic cousin of Gwen’s who works for the queen; the Palace has received anonymous letters hinting at some scandal in Philip’s family history that could scuttle any engagement between the young royals. She asks the ladies to investigate any improprieties. What follows was entertaining and enjoyable as the friendship between the two women continues to grow as they investigate, but became a bit convoluted keeping track of the sides and their various interests. The ending was unrealistic in the complexity of the final scene, but fun nevertheless. I really enjoy this series, for the characters, humor and realistic portrayal of postwar London life. I hope for more!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    A Royal Affair was another interesting historical mystery by Ms. Montclair. By now, I was fully engaged with Gwen and Iris. Their friendship bloomed. You knew they truly cared for each other but as all close friends they don't necessarily see eye to eye. I found myself smiling numerous times between their witty banter and trying to work a case. They were still involved with their matchmaking business but espionage, the law, and some criminal elements battled against them. Just who could they tru A Royal Affair was another interesting historical mystery by Ms. Montclair. By now, I was fully engaged with Gwen and Iris. Their friendship bloomed. You knew they truly cared for each other but as all close friends they don't necessarily see eye to eye. I found myself smiling numerous times between their witty banter and trying to work a case. They were still involved with their matchmaking business but espionage, the law, and some criminal elements battled against them. Just who could they trust? Think James Bond and Q mixed with Holmes and Watson but instead with two women. I also thought the secondary characters added a good dimension to the suspense. If you decide to read this series, start with The Right Sort of Man. Gwen's and Iris's backgrounds and early history, their developing friendship while starting up a business after World War II and meeting some of those important supporting characters will help you understand why they behave the way they do. Now, for A Rogue's Company!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    The mystery plot here wasn't a huge draw for me, but I continue to really like Iris and Gwen and their partnership. I liked how things are moving along for both of them in their personal lives. The mystery plot here wasn't a huge draw for me, but I continue to really like Iris and Gwen and their partnership. I liked how things are moving along for both of them in their personal lives.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    So much fun! Great characters, sparkling dialogue. I appreciate how the author has the ladies working through their PTSD and grief from their war experiences and losses. But I hope romance finds them in future books! I especially enjoyed the impromptu dancing lesson and the poignant dance with a royal. Were I to choose actors/actresses to fill these characters' shoes, the roster might include Veronica Lake (Bainbridge), Claudette Colbert (Sparks), Cary Grant (Archie) & Walter Pidgeon (Sally) . . So much fun! Great characters, sparkling dialogue. I appreciate how the author has the ladies working through their PTSD and grief from their war experiences and losses. But I hope romance finds them in future books! I especially enjoyed the impromptu dancing lesson and the poignant dance with a royal. Were I to choose actors/actresses to fill these characters' shoes, the roster might include Veronica Lake (Bainbridge), Claudette Colbert (Sparks), Cary Grant (Archie) & Walter Pidgeon (Sally) . . . it's fun to imagine . . .

  17. 4 out of 5

    ☼Book her, Doesn't Like New GR Format☼

    I love this series. Strong female characters who develop a close relationship despite their sharp differences. The writing is excellent, smart and witty; and the plotting is marvelous. As far as the setting the author knows her stuff when it comes to post WWII Britain. She also knows how to write up secondary characters so you want more. More, more, more. Oddly enough, the only thing I didn't love about this book was the ending. It wasn't horrible, just a bit theatrical. But please don't let this I love this series. Strong female characters who develop a close relationship despite their sharp differences. The writing is excellent, smart and witty; and the plotting is marvelous. As far as the setting the author knows her stuff when it comes to post WWII Britain. She also knows how to write up secondary characters so you want more. More, more, more. Oddly enough, the only thing I didn't love about this book was the ending. It wasn't horrible, just a bit theatrical. But please don't let this one comment put you off the series. It's very good. Context::: I read it and found it more fun and enjoyable than Louise Penny's last book, A BETTER MAN.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lady Shockley

    Allison Montclair's Sparks and Bainbridge series is one of my new favorites. I've read mysteries and police procédurale since my teens, and have grown weary of the predictability of brooding, anguished detectives, serial killers who inexplicably must have a flashy murderous signature, and crimes which are complicated only so the author can impress us all with the ingenuity of the plot, never mind that the crime could never be pulled off in real life. Sigh. In contrast to those disappointment, Ir Allison Montclair's Sparks and Bainbridge series is one of my new favorites. I've read mysteries and police procédurale since my teens, and have grown weary of the predictability of brooding, anguished detectives, serial killers who inexplicably must have a flashy murderous signature, and crimes which are complicated only so the author can impress us all with the ingenuity of the plot, never mind that the crime could never be pulled off in real life. Sigh. In contrast to those disappointment, Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge breeze into post World War 2 London like a breath of fresh air. Gwendolyn, an aristocratic war widow, is still under the thumb of her mother-in-law; Iris, who worked in espionage, is saddled with survivors' guilt that she often tries to drown in drink and dangerous men. The two have teamed up to provide matchmaking services, founding The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Naturally, things go wrong straightaway — in the first book of the series, a client is murdered and the man they matched her with is the main suspect — and Sparks & Bainbridge mist sort it out. Having solved the first case, it's no surprise that another is soon to follow. Lady Matheson, Gwen's cousin appears with a plea for quiet assistance in tracking down a blackmailer who threatens to upend the budding romance of no less than Elizabeth, the future Queen of England. The problem is knotty and takes several unexpected turns. While other reviewers found it to be too complicated, I was able to follow the plot easily enough. The real delight is, of course, the characters - Iris, Gwen, Sally (oh, how I adore Sally!,) Archie, Lady Carolyne, and even Blitz-ravaged London itself - they all have a wonderful, human complexity, which is yet another departure from many mysteries. The wit and cutting banter among them are a delight to read. Recommended.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susan Willis

    Having not read book 1, it took me several pages to get into the book. However, once there I absolutely loved it. The pairing of characters and their skills, the witty dialogue and the interesting plot made for a wonderful read. I highly recommend.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lora

    Iris and Gwen, owners of the Right Sort Marriage Bureau, are asked by Gwen's cousin, Lady Matheson, to investigate a possible blackmail plot against the royal family. It looks like an engagement is imminent between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, and there appears to be someone who has damaging information on the Prince's family that could stop the marriage from occurring. In their effort to discover the truth, Iris and Gwen find themselves embroiled with British intelligence, the Greek co Iris and Gwen, owners of the Right Sort Marriage Bureau, are asked by Gwen's cousin, Lady Matheson, to investigate a possible blackmail plot against the royal family. It looks like an engagement is imminent between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, and there appears to be someone who has damaging information on the Prince's family that could stop the marriage from occurring. In their effort to discover the truth, Iris and Gwen find themselves embroiled with British intelligence, the Greek community in London and others whose motives are not clear. A Royal Affair is the second book in the delightful Sparks and Bainbridge series. Don't miss it if you like mysteries full of witty dialogue and heart.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    This is a perfect escape for those of us who enjoy historical fiction with unbelievably intrepid heroines who have brains, a sense of humor and more than a little bit of luck. This novel is for the reader (like me) who is totally willing to suspend their disbelief in the service of entertainment. A Royal Affair was a great escape during a period when we are confined to home, with no escape in sight. I loved every minute I spent with the two protagonists and look forward to more adventures with th This is a perfect escape for those of us who enjoy historical fiction with unbelievably intrepid heroines who have brains, a sense of humor and more than a little bit of luck. This novel is for the reader (like me) who is totally willing to suspend their disbelief in the service of entertainment. A Royal Affair was a great escape during a period when we are confined to home, with no escape in sight. I loved every minute I spent with the two protagonists and look forward to more adventures with them. NetGalley provided me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a candid review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Abigail

    This mystery started off absolutely charmingly. Were those faint hints of Wodehouse I was picking up on? And with "My poor wounded Gwendolyn!" a definite nod to Oscar Wilde. Sparks and Bainbridge are delightful heroines. The humor tapered off as the plot thickened, which I thought was too bad - I think it's possible to have a mystery that's both lighthearted and serious-minded. :) I found my attention wandering in places and the plot seemed to get a bit murky at points. (But that could definitel This mystery started off absolutely charmingly. Were those faint hints of Wodehouse I was picking up on? And with "My poor wounded Gwendolyn!" a definite nod to Oscar Wilde. Sparks and Bainbridge are delightful heroines. The humor tapered off as the plot thickened, which I thought was too bad - I think it's possible to have a mystery that's both lighthearted and serious-minded. :) I found my attention wandering in places and the plot seemed to get a bit murky at points. (But that could definitely be due to my own shortish and easily distractable attention span!)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    Best dialogue I have read in quite some time. The writing sparkles.

  24. 5 out of 5

    =^.^= Janet

    When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed and you are in #COVID19 #socialisolation, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. (I have played a zillion games of scrabble, done a zillion crosswords and I AM BORED!!!) I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the aut When life for the entire universe and planet turns on its end and like everyone else you "have nothing to do" while your place of work is closed and you are in #COVID19 #socialisolation, superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. (I have played a zillion games of scrabble, done a zillion crosswords and I AM BORED!!!) I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. More goes wrong than could be imagined when Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau are unexpectedly engaged to dig into the past of a suitor of a royal princess in Allison Montclair’s delightful second novel, A Royal Affair. In London 1946, The Right Sort Marriage Bureau is just beginning to take off and the proprietors, Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs Gwendolyn Bainbridge are in need of a bigger office and a secretary to handle the growing demand. Unfortunately, they don't yet have the necessary means. So when a woman arrives—a cousin of Gwen's—with an interesting and quite remunerative proposition, the two of them are all ears. The cousin, one Lady Matheson, works for the Queen in "some capacity" and is in need of some discreet investigation. It seems that Princess Elizabeth has developed feelings for a dashing Greek prince and a blackmail note has arrived, alluding to some potentially damaging information about said prince. Wanting to keep this out of the palace gossip circles, but also needing to find out what skeletons might lurk in the prince's closet, the palace has quietly turned to Gwen and Iris. Without causing a stir, the two of them must now find out what secrets lurk in the prince's past before his engagement to the future Queen of England is announced. And there's more at stake than the future of the Empire —there is their potential new office that lies in the balance. I don't think that I "got": this book - it seemed ludicrous that these women were in this situation, nor did I understand what "The Right Sort Marriage Bureau" really was as it all seemed so convoluted. I am a fan of actual British HISTORY and this book seemed just .. cruel. Yes, Philip is not a saint in real life but this book just seems like it is trying to sell itself with possibilities an probabilities that may or may not have happened. As a librarian, if I do not learn something new or get engaged in the characters I did not truly read/finish the book (I skimmed through it) as there are too many good ones out there to read and review. That also applies to just being a lover of books --- if it isn't interesting, on to the next one! Sometimes, honesty goes the wrong way.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Kenneth - PerfectionistWannabe.com

    For those who loved Jennifer Robson's "The Gown," you will love this book. This book was so entertaining. This matchmaking agency is tasked to research blackmail letters Princess Elizabeth received re: Prince Philip's legitimacy. While the young princess is awaiting Prince Philip's proposal, a socialite and a former spy investigate these letters, including where they came from, who is sending them, and what is in these letters that could jeopardize Prince Philip's claim to the young princess's h For those who loved Jennifer Robson's "The Gown," you will love this book. This book was so entertaining. This matchmaking agency is tasked to research blackmail letters Princess Elizabeth received re: Prince Philip's legitimacy. While the young princess is awaiting Prince Philip's proposal, a socialite and a former spy investigate these letters, including where they came from, who is sending them, and what is in these letters that could jeopardize Prince Philip's claim to the young princess's heart. A good mystery always has a murder. Yet, how he's involved in all of this is anyone's guess. But as you go along, I do not recommend skipping to the end, because there are so many parties involved in this diabolical plot, you'll miss all the connections. I loved this book from start to finish. I also loved the ending when Princess Elizabeth makes an appearance. I can't wait for the next edition in this series. It's so good.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Janine Ballard

    3.25 stars After The Right Sort of Man, this was a disappointment. Joint review with Jayne on DA: https://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/o... 3.25 stars After The Right Sort of Man, this was a disappointment. Joint review with Jayne on DA: https://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/o...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    This series and this book are just a delight to read! I enjoyed the first book in this series (The Right Sort of Man) last year so I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of this book. This book was just as fun and pleasurable to read as that first book! One of the things that I adore about this series is the two main characters of Gwen and Iris. They are two very different women but they work together so well and really complement each other. With a book that has two main characters, as the This series and this book are just a delight to read! I enjoyed the first book in this series (The Right Sort of Man) last year so I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of this book. This book was just as fun and pleasurable to read as that first book! One of the things that I adore about this series is the two main characters of Gwen and Iris. They are two very different women but they work together so well and really complement each other. With a book that has two main characters, as the reader I sometimes can end up preferring one over the other but that just isn't the case in this series. I'm constantly rooting for Gwen as she works to take back control of her life. I'm also constantly rooting for Iris to actually find love and maybe even settle down one day. They are just so much fun to read about and I love reading about the different types of trouble that they constantly seem to find themselves in. At first, I had a bit of a time keeping track of all of the different kings, princes, and the like that were possibly caught up in the mystery both present day and in the past. Happily enough, I just allowed myself to go along for the ride and before I knew it I was able to figure out who was who. The mystery was one that kept me guessing but honestly I really read this one for the characters and just the adventure of it all. Both this book and the first were just fun books to read! I found myself laughing out loud a few times with this one - especially over some of the comments Iris and Gwen would make. This book really just was a delightful read and I'm eager to continue on with it in future books! Overall, I cannot say enough good things about this series and this book! They are just fun, light reads that I enjoyed immensely. I don't think that you have to read these book in order necessarily but as there is only two books...I feel like why wouldn't you want to? They are both completely worth it in my opinion! I am so glad to have found this author and series! It is one that I will definitely be both continuing on with and recommending! This is a book that I definitely think historical mystery fans will enjoy, one that I would also recommend to cozy and mystery readers, and I would also recommend the series to fans of Rhys Bowen's Her Royal Spyness series! Bottom Line: A delightful addition to what is becoming a favorite series of mine! Disclosure: I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher. Honest thoughts are my own.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I really enjoyed the first book in this series, so I was so excited to read the second. We find Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge fresh off of the publicity surrounding their success of solving a murder case while running their matchmaking business. They receive a call from one of Princess Elizabeth’s staff to ask for help with vetting one of the Princess’ suitors, Prince Phillip. Naturally, things become more complicated, when one of their contacts is murdered, a gangster, Iris has to ask for hel I really enjoyed the first book in this series, so I was so excited to read the second. We find Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge fresh off of the publicity surrounding their success of solving a murder case while running their matchmaking business. They receive a call from one of Princess Elizabeth’s staff to ask for help with vetting one of the Princess’ suitors, Prince Phillip. Naturally, things become more complicated, when one of their contacts is murdered, a gangster, Iris has to ask for help from her former boss, oh and they actually make a successful match in the midst of it all. Per usual, the ladies take us on quite a twisted ride to find the answers to the mystery. I really enjoyed this book. The characters are well developed and evolve throughout the story. Gwen is regaining her confidence and strength after spending time in a sanitarium after the death of her husband in the Great War. Iris is still adjusting to life after being a spy durning the war. Despite their differences, Iris a Cambridge grad, and Gwen a debutante, they have become the best of friends and colleagues. This book will not be out until July 28, but in the mean time, I suggest reading the first book in the series, “The Right Sort of Man”. Thank you Net Galley for the ARC of this book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carol lowkey.bookish

    This was a fun historical mystery. I especially enjoyed reading about all the clients who visit The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. I also loved the humor and witty banter between the main characters, Gwen and Iris. They are interesting characters that I want to learn more about. The mystery itself is very complex and in the middle I got a little lost in all the details and different parties in play. However, it all gets brilliantly wrapped up by Gwen and Iris in a stunning Agatha Christie-style endi This was a fun historical mystery. I especially enjoyed reading about all the clients who visit The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. I also loved the humor and witty banter between the main characters, Gwen and Iris. They are interesting characters that I want to learn more about. The mystery itself is very complex and in the middle I got a little lost in all the details and different parties in play. However, it all gets brilliantly wrapped up by Gwen and Iris in a stunning Agatha Christie-style ending! This is the second in a series and I hadn’t read the first book, but this could be a stand-alone book. I didn’t feel like I missed anything crucial. I do plan to check out the first book, The Right Sort of Man, to get the backstory on Gwen and Iris. I thoroughly enjoyed this historical mystery with its glimpse into the lives of the royal family, especially Prince Phillip. I got some Maisie Dobbs vibes from this book so if you are a Maisie fan, definitely check out this series. 4/5 stars.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    Our intrepid lady marriage-brokers turned detectives are back. This time they have been approached by one of Gwendolyn's distant cousins, on behalf of the Queen, to investigate a letter which was sent to Princess Elizabeth, attempting blackmail in relation to her latest beau, a dashing Greek Prince!! Intrigue, double-cross and triple-cross are all in evidence as Iris and Gwen attempt to determine whether the blackmailer has any real evidence, the reasons for the blackmail and who is behind the pl Our intrepid lady marriage-brokers turned detectives are back. This time they have been approached by one of Gwendolyn's distant cousins, on behalf of the Queen, to investigate a letter which was sent to Princess Elizabeth, attempting blackmail in relation to her latest beau, a dashing Greek Prince!! Intrigue, double-cross and triple-cross are all in evidence as Iris and Gwen attempt to determine whether the blackmailer has any real evidence, the reasons for the blackmail and who is behind the plot. Their investigations lead them to cross paths with the East End gang leader Archie (who is now sort of dating Iris), the former King of Greece, the secret service, the Police, artsy playwrights and various former naval officers as well as some of my favourite characters from the first book like Sally and Jimmy the Scribe. The plot is suitably twisty, the motives murky and I devoured it just as eagerly as the first one, I can't wait until the next one is released.

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