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A Rogue's Company

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*A PW Pick of the Week!* In Allison Monclair's A Rogue's Company, business becomes personal for the Right Sort Marriage Bureau when a new client, a brutal murder, two kidnappings, and the recently returned from Africa Lord Bainbridge threatens everything that one of the principals holds dear. In London, 1946, the Right Sort Marriage Bureau is getting on its feet and expandin *A PW Pick of the Week!* In Allison Monclair's A Rogue's Company, business becomes personal for the Right Sort Marriage Bureau when a new client, a brutal murder, two kidnappings, and the recently returned from Africa Lord Bainbridge threatens everything that one of the principals holds dear. In London, 1946, the Right Sort Marriage Bureau is getting on its feet and expanding. Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge are making a go of it. That is until Lord Bainbridge—the widowed Gwen's father-in-law and legal guardian—returns from a business trip to Africa and threatens to undo everything important to her, even sending her six-year-old son away to a boarding school. But there's more going on than that. A new client shows up at the agency, one whom Sparks and Bainbridge begin to suspect really has a secret agenda, somehow involving the Bainbridge family. A murder and a subsequent kidnapping sends Sparks to seek help from a dangerous quarter—and now their very survival is at stake.


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*A PW Pick of the Week!* In Allison Monclair's A Rogue's Company, business becomes personal for the Right Sort Marriage Bureau when a new client, a brutal murder, two kidnappings, and the recently returned from Africa Lord Bainbridge threatens everything that one of the principals holds dear. In London, 1946, the Right Sort Marriage Bureau is getting on its feet and expandin *A PW Pick of the Week!* In Allison Monclair's A Rogue's Company, business becomes personal for the Right Sort Marriage Bureau when a new client, a brutal murder, two kidnappings, and the recently returned from Africa Lord Bainbridge threatens everything that one of the principals holds dear. In London, 1946, the Right Sort Marriage Bureau is getting on its feet and expanding. Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge are making a go of it. That is until Lord Bainbridge—the widowed Gwen's father-in-law and legal guardian—returns from a business trip to Africa and threatens to undo everything important to her, even sending her six-year-old son away to a boarding school. But there's more going on than that. A new client shows up at the agency, one whom Sparks and Bainbridge begin to suspect really has a secret agenda, somehow involving the Bainbridge family. A murder and a subsequent kidnapping sends Sparks to seek help from a dangerous quarter—and now their very survival is at stake.

30 review for A Rogue's Company

  1. 4 out of 5

    Barb in Maryland

    4.5 stars. I read it twice because I enjoyed it so much. A few thoughts: While I missed seeing our matchmakers at work, I really appreciated getting to know Gwen and Iris on a deeper level. I also appreciated that Gwen's in-laws have acquired depth. They are still terrible people, but now the reader can see them in 3-D. It was interesting to learn more about the Bainbridge company and its holdings, which allowed the author to touch on the effects of colonialism. Two of the characters she introduced 4.5 stars. I read it twice because I enjoyed it so much. A few thoughts: While I missed seeing our matchmakers at work, I really appreciated getting to know Gwen and Iris on a deeper level. I also appreciated that Gwen's in-laws have acquired depth. They are still terrible people, but now the reader can see them in 3-D. It was interesting to learn more about the Bainbridge company and its holdings, which allowed the author to touch on the effects of colonialism. Two of the characters she introduced also had ties to that theme. One was Simon Daile, a Black man from Africa, who signs on with The Right Sort Marriage Bureau (for Reasons); the other was Walter Prendergast, a potential investor in Bainbridge Ltd, with some rather blunt views about Britain's future in Africa. I have saved my favorite new character for last--Mrs Saundra Billington, the marriage bureau's new secretary. She's delightful! Our favorite 'very large man'(Sally) and Iris's underworld boss boyfriend (Archie Spelling) are also on hand--it was good to see them both. The motives for the murder and the kidnappings were very convoluted, but Gwen and Iris figured it all out (with some timely help from young Ronnie). The solutions and the conclusion were very satisfactory. As always, there was a generous serving of wit to balance the seriousness of the plot. I am looking forward to Gwen and Iris's next adventure.

  2. 5 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Amazing women! A new client gives pause to Gwendolyn Bainbridge and Iris Sparks, proprietors of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. They hadn’t before considered International clients. When Mr. Simon Daile from Nyasaland, Africa approaches them seeking a bride, they realize that they need to provide for clients from outside their narrow focus. It also seems Mr. Daile knows of Gwen’s father-in-law, Lord Harold Bainbridge, and his mining activities. Small world! Lord Bainbridge comes home early from Afr Amazing women! A new client gives pause to Gwendolyn Bainbridge and Iris Sparks, proprietors of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. They hadn’t before considered International clients. When Mr. Simon Daile from Nyasaland, Africa approaches them seeking a bride, they realize that they need to provide for clients from outside their narrow focus. It also seems Mr. Daile knows of Gwen’s father-in-law, Lord Harold Bainbridge, and his mining activities. Small world! Lord Bainbridge comes home early from Africa and Gwen finds herself confronted with her old fears, and new ones as he belligerently takes charge of the household and her hopes for her son Ronnie. Gwen has been fighting to gain back guardianship of her son after having suffered a breakdown upon her husband’s death. The Bainbridges are fighting her on this. Gwen’s place on the Bainbridge Board seems to be one reason. Then just as Gwen confronts Lord Bainbridge they are both kidnapped. All very dramatic. Particularly when Gwen decides to use some moves she’s learnt at her Defendu (Self Defence) classes. When Gwen goes missing Iris finds herself asking her man of the moment and underworld boss Archie Spelling for assistance, which puts him under an obligation to some characters he’d rather not be. Sparks is making headway to some extent in both her drinking and her fears. Her war service certainly left deep and hidden scars. Lady Carolyne , Gwen’s mother-in-law is still drinking herself under the table in an Oh So refined manner. Talk about drama and mayhem. Gwen’s reflections are witty and wonderful. But then I choked back a laugh or two when Archie complained about his gang falling over themselves whenever Gwen turns up. I really enjoy this series, watching Gwen and Iris grow their business, overcome huge obstacles and face their dark fears, is heart warming, despite the tragedies underpinning their individual journeys. A St. Martin's Press ARC via NetGalley

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Rogers

    Series: Sparks and Bainbridge #3 Publication Date: 6/8/21 Period: Post WWII - 1946 Number of Pages: 352 ** 4.5 Stars ** Goodness! I do believe I have found another historical mystery series to love. This author is new to me – and I’m so glad to have found her. I was a bit concerned about coming into the series on the third book, but that didn’t impede my enjoyment of the story in the least. The book is excellently written, the plot is well defined with the clues dribbled out just right, the villain(s Series: Sparks and Bainbridge #3 Publication Date: 6/8/21 Period: Post WWII - 1946 Number of Pages: 352 ** 4.5 Stars ** Goodness! I do believe I have found another historical mystery series to love. This author is new to me – and I’m so glad to have found her. I was a bit concerned about coming into the series on the third book, but that didn’t impede my enjoyment of the story in the least. The book is excellently written, the plot is well defined with the clues dribbled out just right, the villain(s) get their just desserts, and our two intrepid ladies from the Right Sort Marriage Bureau have solved another case. If you just looked on the surface, you would never believe that Mrs. Gwendolyn (Gwen) Bainbridge and Miss Iris Sparks would ever be in the same room with each other, much less great friends and business partners. However, if you do look beneath the surface, you will see two broken ladies trying their very best to recover from the ravages of the war. Gwen lost the love of her life – her husband Robbie – and ended up in a sanitarium for a while – and she lost guardianship of her only child to her dastardly father-in-law. Iris did many things in the war while working for the government. Most of those things weren’t polite and they certainly weren’t nice. She’s trying her best to come to grips with that past, to curb her recklessness – and to curb her drinking. Each of them seems to provide the encouragement and support the other needs. So many things are set in motion when Lord Bainbridge, Gwen’s father-in-law, returns after six months in Africa where he was checking up on Bainbridge, Ltd. assets held there. He is in a nasty temper all of the time, treats everyone badly – even his sweet grandson. Of course, none of this is new to any of them – he’s always been that way. Instead of taking time with his family, he is immediately off to his club – and the pattern continues. Gwen has become healthier and more stable over the last months, and she’s wanting to retrieve her guardianship of her son away from Lord Bainbridge – and she wants to claim her inheritance as well – which is also controlled by Lord Bainbridge. Lord Bainbridge, of course, isn’t happy about any of that and has no intention of relinquishing control of anything to Gwen. Gwen overhears and even participates in some strange conversations – she doesn’t totally understand them, but she’ll puzzle them out. Then, there is a murder of an African man behind Lord Bainbridge’s club. There is absolutely nothing to identify the man and nobody saw anything. Then, things get really intense when Lord Bainbridge is kidnapped. OMGoodness! Can Iris and her less than savory friends manage to save Gwen? Lord Bainbridge? Then, of course, there is a big surprise – welcome or not???? It took me a bit to get into the story, but goodness gracious – when I did – it was Annie Get Your Guns! I loved it! I loved the characters and can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. I do worry about Iris’s love life though. I like the man she loves – and I think he loves her – but – with his profession, I can only see hurt in her future if he doesn’t mend his ways. I can highly recommend this book and I hope you will love it as much as did. I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Niki (mustreadalltheromance)

    In 1946 London Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge are just beginning to expand their business, the Right Sort Marriage Bureau. It’s going rather well until Gwen’s father-in-law and legal guardian, Lord Bainbridge, returns from an extended trip to Africa and threatens everything she’s been working for, including sending her son to the boarding school her late husband was adamant he not attend. In the midst of all this, the agency gets a new client who the ladies suspect of having ulter In 1946 London Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge are just beginning to expand their business, the Right Sort Marriage Bureau. It’s going rather well until Gwen’s father-in-law and legal guardian, Lord Bainbridge, returns from an extended trip to Africa and threatens everything she’s been working for, including sending her son to the boarding school her late husband was adamant he not attend. In the midst of all this, the agency gets a new client who the ladies suspect of having ulterior motives involving the Bainbridge family. With a murder and a kidnapping occurring in rapid succession, Sparks has to seek some dangerous help as their very lives are threatened. Another well-crafted entry in the Sparks and Bainbridge series! It took a few chapters for me to really become invested in this story, but once the mystery was set up, I didn’t want to put it down. The plotting of this story was very tight, the characters relatable and well fleshed out. My romance loving heart can’t help wanting more from the ladies’ personal relationships, especially as regards Iris’ gangster boyfriend, but with this being an ongoing series, I hold on to hope. I loved that Gwen really began to come into her own in this one and loved her stiff spine in standing up to Lord Bainbridge. This was a well-written read with entertainingly witty banter and I look forward to more installments in the series. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Blog link: https://mustreadalltheromance.blogspo...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Cole

    I couldn't be happier that I discovered Allison Montclair's Sparks & Bainbridge historical mystery series when the very first book, The Right Sort of Man, appeared. This series, now on book three, has done nothing but get better and better, and I think I spent most of the time while reading A Rogue's Company with a big smile on my face... that is when I wasn't actually laughing out loud. Montclair doesn't spend a lot of time giving us period detail. A simple line mentioning "piles of rubble waiti I couldn't be happier that I discovered Allison Montclair's Sparks & Bainbridge historical mystery series when the very first book, The Right Sort of Man, appeared. This series, now on book three, has done nothing but get better and better, and I think I spent most of the time while reading A Rogue's Company with a big smile on my face... that is when I wasn't actually laughing out loud. Montclair doesn't spend a lot of time giving us period detail. A simple line mentioning "piles of rubble waiting to be collected from the bomb sites" is more than sufficient to put me firmly on the streets of post-war London, and Gwen's conversation with young Stephen Burleigh is a strong reminder of soldiers coming home from the war and the horrors that they had to endure. If Montclair doesn't spend a lot of time setting her stage, what does she do? She tells a fast-paced marvelous tale of deception and abduction that keeps readers putting the pieces together-- and loathe to put the book down until it's finished. More than that, she continues to develop her fantastic cast of characters. After what's happened in the previous two books, Gwen begins taking self-defense classes, and it's her continuing maturation that often takes center stage. Gwen led a sheltered, privileged life until the death of her husband during the war. When he died, she came emotionally unglued. Her grief was so intense that her in-laws put her in a hospital, made themselves her legal guardian, and took away custody of her six-year-old son, Ronnie. In the first two books, Lord and Lady Bainbridge were nothing but despicable, but now in A Rogue's Company, we begin to see cracks appear. Subtle changes can be seen. Motivations raise their heads above the parapet. The lord and lady are no longer cardboard cut-out villains, and that's something to applaud. Even secondary characters and those with bit parts shine in this book. Little Ronnie is a typical boy and an absolute sweetheart. If I want to get somewhere fast, I'm going to insist that Barry drives me, and Percival the "plummy-voiced berk" is just the butler I'd want to have in my own establishment. The dialogue sparkles in A Rogue's Company, and for those of you who are fans of T.E. Kinsey's Lady Hardcastle mysteries think of the banter between Lady Hardcastle and Flo. (For those who aren't acquainted with Lady Hardcastle, please take note of my recommendation.) Iris and Gwen can keep me laughing, and once the story revs up and really motors along, I cheered (sometimes out loud) whenever Gwen faced down the loathsome Lord Bainbridge. Granted, the marriage bureau business had only a walk-on part in this book, but it was there, and Iris and Gwen show readers that they know how to come up with innovations to expand their business. I really want it to expand, too, because Allison Montclair has me hook, line, and sinker. I am now in dire need of an annual Sparks & Bainbridge fix. For the uninitiated, as much as I'd like you to start with book one and read the three books in order, you can actually pick up A Rogue's Company and not feel lost or confused. Once you do, you're going to find yourself in need of that annual fix, too. Mark my words. (Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Net Galley)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Niki (nikilovestoread)

    After loving the first two books in the Sparks & Bainbridge series, I was excited to read A Rogue's Company. I do agree with another reviewer that said this one was different than the previous two. I missed seeing the customers coming into the marriage bureau looking for love, but I can also see why that plot may start to feel overused and the author chose to go a different route with the third in the series. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this one, too. It was different, but still really well wri After loving the first two books in the Sparks & Bainbridge series, I was excited to read A Rogue's Company. I do agree with another reviewer that said this one was different than the previous two. I missed seeing the customers coming into the marriage bureau looking for love, but I can also see why that plot may start to feel overused and the author chose to go a different route with the third in the series. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this one, too. It was different, but still really well written, has great characters, and an intriguing mystery. I love that the characters have gotten a little more diverse ethnically with Lord Bainbridge's business interests in Africa creating drama in England and, of course, I always enjoy the witty banter between the characters. The whole series is just a lot of fun to read and I'm always looking forward to the next one. Thanks so much to Minotaur for the gifted book in exchange for an honest review!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Beck

    A bit too much Ronnie Jr in this one for me…

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Martin

    Gwen Bainbridge and her partner Iris Sparks are pleased with their marriage agency. They have managed to add on both a second office and a secretary. They are a bit surprised when Simon Daile comes in because they have never considered having Black African clients. Beyond that surprise is the certainty in Gwen's mind that the Mr. Daile was lying to her about something. While dealing with finding potential partners for him, Gwen is dealing with problems at home. Her father-in-law Lord Harold Bainb Gwen Bainbridge and her partner Iris Sparks are pleased with their marriage agency. They have managed to add on both a second office and a secretary. They are a bit surprised when Simon Daile comes in because they have never considered having Black African clients. Beyond that surprise is the certainty in Gwen's mind that the Mr. Daile was lying to her about something. While dealing with finding potential partners for him, Gwen is dealing with problems at home. Her father-in-law Lord Harold Bainbridge has returned from Africa is is determined to send Gwen's six-year-old son to the same harsh boarding school where his son was educated. Since Gwen had a breakdown when her beloved husband died in the War, Lord and Lady Bainbridge were given custody of young Ronnie and also guardianship of Gwen. Lord Bainbridge is a petty tyrant who brings nothing but tension to his household. Lady Bainbridge drinks to deal with her disappointment in him. And Gwen is determined to regain her independence and regain custody of her son. Unfortunately, her psychiatrist isn't ready to sign off on her competence. After all, both she and Iris have discussed their previous murder investigations with him which makes him question both women's sense. Things come to a head when Lord Bainbridge and Gwen are kidnapped by some villains. Iris is called in by Lady Bainbridge and Iris quickly recruits her friend Sally and her beau underworld boss Archie Spelling to find and rescue Gwen and, incidentally, Lord Bainbridge. This story had lots of twists and turns. It also had intriguing characters. Both Iris and Gwen were wounded by the War and their parts in it and both are gradually rebuilding their lives. I enjoyed following the twists and turns of the story but admit that both Gwen and Iris are much better detectives than I am.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    A Rogue's Company is the third exciting book in Allison Montclair's Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery series. I haven't read the first two books and while I was a bit confused with references to the main characters' prior exploits, I had no trouble following this stand-alone mystery. In fact, this is sure to be one of my favorite series ever! I'm excited to find I already had the first two books in my huge TBR pile. Yay! I started this book early yesterday evening and was already done with it early th A Rogue's Company is the third exciting book in Allison Montclair's Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery series. I haven't read the first two books and while I was a bit confused with references to the main characters' prior exploits, I had no trouble following this stand-alone mystery. In fact, this is sure to be one of my favorite series ever! I'm excited to find I already had the first two books in my huge TBR pile. Yay! I started this book early yesterday evening and was already done with it early this afternoon. I truly didn't want to put it down. Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge are running their Right Sort Marriage Bureau in London 1946. They're doing well enough that they are even expanding. All is going well, until Lord Bainbridge returns home from a business trip in Africa. He is widowed Gwen's hateful father-in-law and her six-year-old son Ronnie's legal guardian. It's bad enough that he's threatening to send the child away to boarding school, but there's also other trouble afoot. A new client signs up, and the women believe he may be spying on the Bainbridges. Throw in a murder and then a kidnapping, and things really begin to go downhill! This was a fun and exciting mystery with extremely compelling characters. During the war Iris Sparks was a spy; even now that she's running a marriage bureau her dangerous life still isn't behind her. Not only does she apparently struggle with alcohol, but she's also dating someone in the criminal underworld. Gwen lost her much loved husband in the war, and she apparently had a breakdown and spent time in a sanatorium. She is trying to be declared competent to regain custody of her son back from Lord Bainbridge. It seems an odd business pairing between Iris and Gwen, but it works. Their unique backgrounds give them special insight into the mystery they get involved in. The supporting characters were marvelous, too. Little Ronnie was absolutely adorable, Percival the Butler was kind and Lady Bainbridge was....let's just call her unique. My favorite, though, was Salvadore "Sally" Danielli, who was Iris's best friend and was sweet on Gwen. He was a loveable and funny giant of a man. The mystery was highly entertaining. I was totally surprised at the mystery's big reveal! It was the characters, though, that made this story so wonderful. They were extremely funny, snarky and also made me tear up. I can't wait to see what shenanigans Sparks and Bainbridge get up to next! I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley. I received no compensation for my review, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Helen Howerton

    Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Minotaur Books for this Advanced Reader Copy and the opportunity to review A Rogue’s Company. All opinions are my own. A prologue describing a disaster on Lake Nyasa in 1946 affects events for Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau in this, the third book in the historical mystery series by Allison Montclair. And soon, Iris and Gwen, our heroines, find themselves taking as a client a black man. This obviously sets up all sorts Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Minotaur Books for this Advanced Reader Copy and the opportunity to review A Rogue’s Company. All opinions are my own. A prologue describing a disaster on Lake Nyasa in 1946 affects events for Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau in this, the third book in the historical mystery series by Allison Montclair. And soon, Iris and Gwen, our heroines, find themselves taking as a client a black man. This obviously sets up all sorts of problems, and issues of race become a theme of the story A dead man in a hidden room in a private club in London. That prologue. Even a kidnapping. All tied to a certain someone. We get the big reveal with the truth coming out, of course. Money and greed. Who whoulda thunk it. Characterization as in earlier books is superb, and the banter that is part and parcel brings everyone to life. The settings are described with authenticity. We meet new people, delve deep into family dynamics, and learn more about the past of Iris and Gwen. And also, that people have to get past their prejudices. Iris and Gwen will decide they need to put their upbringing to the test – and do better. Family troubles loom large in A Rogue’s Company, since Lord Bainbridge, Gwen’s father-in-law, is throwing his weight around. In fact, one can argue this book is more about personal problems than a mystery to solve. Iris has demons to face (and boyfriend troubles), Gwen has the relatives to deal with, and on and on. If you want to know more about the two of them, then this book is for you. We do get some action, some “thriller-ish” activity that might be too over the top for some readers. I personally want more Marriage Bureau-style mystery. Maybe next time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    I had to give this a 5 because I just sat and read and did nothing but enjoy the book. These characters and their pasts are diverse and very interesting. I liked this book because i learned more about the older Bainbridges, not always liking what I learned though, and the business. There is depth to these characters. I’m glad Iris and Gwen came from different backgrounds because Iris has the most interesting, not very respectable, friends.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Miki

    This series seems to be getting a little darker with each book, but I'm not complaining. Iris and Gwen are making a success of the The Right Sort agency, although the agency figures less in this book than the first two. Gwen makes definite progress in getting back custody of her son, and Iris...well, Iris always has her own ways of working events and other people. Gwen's in-laws appear prominently in this installment, with a surprising outcome. I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway. This series seems to be getting a little darker with each book, but I'm not complaining. Iris and Gwen are making a success of the The Right Sort agency, although the agency figures less in this book than the first two. Gwen makes definite progress in getting back custody of her son, and Iris...well, Iris always has her own ways of working events and other people. Gwen's in-laws appear prominently in this installment, with a surprising outcome. I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dianne Freeman

    I’m a big fan of the Sparks and Bainbridge mystery series and book 3, A Rogue’s Company didn’t disappoint! Set in post WWII London, Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge are partners in a marriage bureau, The Right Sort. Their very different experiences in the war have left them with complicated, messy lives. By this installment, both are gaining ground on sorting out those lives when Gwen’s father-in-law returns home from an extended stay in Africa to assert his authority over Gwen’s son. This story I’m a big fan of the Sparks and Bainbridge mystery series and book 3, A Rogue’s Company didn’t disappoint! Set in post WWII London, Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge are partners in a marriage bureau, The Right Sort. Their very different experiences in the war have left them with complicated, messy lives. By this installment, both are gaining ground on sorting out those lives when Gwen’s father-in-law returns home from an extended stay in Africa to assert his authority over Gwen’s son. This story intersects with that of their new client at The Right Sort, and the detecting duo find themselves with another crime to solve in their creative and inimitable way. Once again, the mystery is engaging and as fast-paced as the banter between the two main characters. This may be my favorite book of the three, but I highly recommend reading them all!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anne Slater

    I missed the second book of the series, but that's okay... I LOVED this. It was a great 4th of July nobodylovesmethinkI'lljustsitontheporchandread book. Great pace; interesting character and plot development in one of the erstwhile tertiary-level characters; couple of almost predictable plot twists. Better than a beach book. I can't wait to find #2 and to see if there are any more! I missed the second book of the series, but that's okay... I LOVED this. It was a great 4th of July nobodylovesmethinkI'lljustsitontheporchandread book. Great pace; interesting character and plot development in one of the erstwhile tertiary-level characters; couple of almost predictable plot twists. Better than a beach book. I can't wait to find #2 and to see if there are any more!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality I’ve just realized that the title is a pun – or a spoiler, take your pick – on multiple levels. Iris Sparks, co-owner of the Right Sort Marriage Bureau, is keeping company with Archie Spelling, a known gangster. Quite willingly and fairly often. Gwen Bainbridge, her friend and co-owner of the agency, very much on the other hand, has been forced to keep company with a gang of rogues because they’ve kidnapped her while she was in the unfortunate company – and Originally published at Reading Reality I’ve just realized that the title is a pun – or a spoiler, take your pick – on multiple levels. Iris Sparks, co-owner of the Right Sort Marriage Bureau, is keeping company with Archie Spelling, a known gangster. Quite willingly and fairly often. Gwen Bainbridge, her friend and co-owner of the agency, very much on the other hand, has been forced to keep company with a gang of rogues because they’ve kidnapped her while she was in the unfortunate company – and unfortunately in the company – of her douchecanoe of a father-in-law, Lord Harold Bainbridge. That Harold is a complete and utter rotter is not a spoiler at all. I think I rage-read the first half of this book because Harold’s douchecanoe nature and general all-around misogynistic asshattery is on display from practically the first page of the book. I hated not just every scene the man was in but every time Gwen was forced to deal with the power the man had over Gwen’s – and every other person in the household’s – life. A power that he indulged to a disgusting degree at every possible turn as well as at plenty of turns that one wouldn’t have thought were possible, if only because he was willing to insult and demean everyone except his cronies in front of any audience at all. Going completely against that whole idea that one didn’t air one’s dirty linen in public. Harold has power over Gwen because he had Gwen declared mentally incompetent when she was unable to maintain the proper British stiff-upper-lip in the face of her husband’s (Harold’s son’s) death during the late war. Along with that declaration, Harold captured custody of Gwen, her son Ronnie (his grandson) and all of the shares in Bainbridge Ltd., that his son left to his wife in his will. And thereby hangs a good chunk of the tale. For Gwen, it’s all about little Ronnie, and not letting Harold send her 6-year-old boy off to the boarding school that his father hated and that turned his grandfather into the disgusting, overbearing ass that he became. As Gwen grabs hold of her courage and her will and begins to finally fight back, she – with the aiding, abetting and more-than-able assistance of her partner Iris – puts her very superior brain to work to figure out what’s behind her consignment to her father-in-law’s clutches, along with exactly what’s behind his consignment to the clutches of his (their) kidnappers. It’ll be the making of Gwen – if she survives. Even if calling in favors from her friendly neighborhood gangster puts Iris’ future happiness at risk. Escape Rating B+: I picked this up because I loved the first two books in this series, The Right Sort of Man and A Royal Affair. In the end, I loved this one too, but not as much as the first two because, well, see my comments about rage-reading the first half located above. I’m starting to think I’m just allergic to stories that feature women caught in impossible situations because men are entitled assholes whether the jerks in question are actually titled or not. Gwen Bainbridge’s situation has always been a bit precarious vis a vis her titled, overbearing, petty dictator of a father-in-law, because he’s always held the whip hand in their relationship and seems to enjoy using it. Her husband – his son – died in the war and Gwen’s mourning of him did not exactly exhibit the stiff upper lip that Brits are known for. She was labeled as a “hysteric” and placed under the guardianship of her late husband’s family. Under the thumb of her father-in-law who threatens and demeans every single person with whom he comes in contact at every possible turn – including his grandson, Gwen’s 6-year-old son Ronnie. The dinner party scene with the toasts was particularly horrific in this regard – but it was just the latest in a continuing line of horrors in that household. It’s not a surprise that both Sparks and Bainbridge, along with nearly every other person who comes into contact with the man, wants to commit some kind of mayhem upon his odious person. It’s only a surprise that it didn’t happen sooner – and more often. I’m going to try to stop ranting now. It’s more difficult than I thought it would be. Gwen’s asshat-in-law has the same name as my ex-husband, so there might be a teensy bit of transference going on here. Moving right along… This story isn’t about Gwen’s family troubles, although it certainly is about families, and troubles, and the trouble that we will put ourselves through for our families – or at least for the members of our family that we love. Because the other half of this story starts out with a bit of a dilemma for Gwen and Iris. They have a new client – well of course they do, that’s the whole raison d’etre of the Right Sort Marriage Bureau after all. But their new client causes them to question a whole host of assumptions that they both had when they began their enterprise. Their new client, Simon Daile, is African. Not a Brit who has gone to Africa to make a fortune – like the odious Lord Bainbridge – but a man from Africa who came to England to study agriculture and got stuck there during the war. He’s the first black client the agency has had, and they are surprised. Then they are surprised that they are surprised. And finally, they figure out that they’ve been missing out on clients because they assumed that all their clients would be just like themselves. White. And that they need to throw their assumptions out the window, no matter how comfortable clinging to them might have been. Their bit of soul searching feels like it’s handled reasonably well, at least right up until the point where Gwen’s bit of sixth sense about when people are lying to her kicks in. Because Mr. Daile is lying about something. Or she thinks he is. And she’s afraid that her intuition has gone off or is leading her astray because she’s uncomfortable. Which is logical, merely incorrect in this case. Also, that she’s just second-guessing herself because Lord Bainbridge does nothing but try his worst to make her feel small, incapable and lacking in pretty much everything at every turn. (Speaking of comfort, my soapbox is apparently a bit too comfortable. Moving right along AGAIN…) It turns out that she’s both right and wrong, and that the wrongness ties into the mystery genre’s convention about coincidences. There are two threads to this story, Mr. Daile and the kidnapping of Lord Bainbridge and Gwen. Those threads connect – just not in any of the ways that Gwen – or the reader – might have initially suspected.. And Gwen rescues herself. Not just from the kidnapping, but from Lord Bainbridge. And it’s glorious! Now that she’s gotten THAT albatross off from around her neck. I have really high hopes for future books in this series! Meanwhile, I’m going to take a look at The Haunting of the Desks, a short story in the series that looks like oodles of fun!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jessica - How Jessica Reads

    This was a really fun mystery! Lots of adventures -- it's nice to see Gwen coming out of her shell a bit, and assisting Sparks with the rough and tumble side of things. And I enjoyed that it explored themes of racism / sexism in an era appropriate/class appropriate sort of way. This was a really fun mystery! Lots of adventures -- it's nice to see Gwen coming out of her shell a bit, and assisting Sparks with the rough and tumble side of things. And I enjoyed that it explored themes of racism / sexism in an era appropriate/class appropriate sort of way.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    This has very quickly become one of my favorite and most anticipated series. Set in London just post war, the main characters are Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge, two opposites who work like clockwork together. Iris is single and Gwen is a widowed mother living with her in-laws, and the two run a marriage bureau called the “Right Sort”. Each book opens with the approach of a client, and that sets off whatever delightful chain of events Montclair has in store for her reader. Iris and Gwen have exp This has very quickly become one of my favorite and most anticipated series. Set in London just post war, the main characters are Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge, two opposites who work like clockwork together. Iris is single and Gwen is a widowed mother living with her in-laws, and the two run a marriage bureau called the “Right Sort”. Each book opens with the approach of a client, and that sets off whatever delightful chain of events Montclair has in store for her reader. Iris and Gwen have expanded their business a bit, and now boast a two-room office suite as well as a secretary. The approach of their first African customer throws them off a tiny bit, but the ladies rally and agree to help find proper, polite Mr. Daile a match. The book opens with a scene in Africa. It’s brief though memorable, as a boat sinks and many are lost. Certainly, you will be thinking to yourself, Mr. Daile is connected to this tragedy. The cagey Montclair reveals no secrets before her time, though. Three books in, I was more than content to leave it in her capable hands and feel certain the link would be made clear. (Reader, it was). As the women prepare to match Mr. Daile, Gwen feels something is off about him – she thinks there is something he’s not sharing with them, but they press ahead regardless. Overriding Mr. Daile’s matchmaking concerns are Gwen’s concerns. Her dictatorial father in law has just returned from Africa and overseeing his business there, and his desire to send her 6 year old son (and heir to the Bainbridge title) away to boarding school has Gwen in a frantic state of worry. While Gwen and her mother in law had reached an armed truce of sorts in the last book, the arrival of her father in law blows everything to smithereens as he refuses to compromise and treats his wife like an afterthought, abandoning her each night for his club. About half way through the book, Gwen and her father in law are kidnapped, and the distraught Lady Bainbridge reaches out to Iris for help as the two women have solved a crime or two. This is the most personal of the books to date. Putting Gwen in danger and allowing her to ultimately realize the many resources she actually has at her disposal, as well as giving her a chance to use her newly acquired self defense skills (she as taking a class at Iris’ insistence), fleshes her character out even more. This is handily done by letting the reader into the way her mind solves problems and seeing the result. These books have a dash of adventure, a dash of (often thwarted, in Gwen’s case) romance, a clever mystery, and much wit and intelligence. The way the stories are put together are clever but not to the detriment of the characters, who are a complete delight. In spirit these are very close to the Pamela Branch comic novels published in the 50’s. (Those hard to find gems were reprinted by the Rue Morgue Press around 15 years ago and I still snicker when I think about some of the scenes and the deliciously frothy humor in those books.) Fifteen years later I am enjoying these books by Branch’s kissing cousin and finding that they provide the most fun “between the covers” of any read all year. Snatch up all three in the series to date and treasure them.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sascha

    A Rogue’s Company by Allison Montclair begins with a brother and sister on a boat on an African lake when tragedy strikes. With that scene fresh in our minds, we find that Bainbridge family is under the scrutiny of an African man who is posing as a gardener. Why is he surveilling the Bainbridge family? What is his relationship to the brother and sister on the boat? What does all of this mean for for the match-making, mystery-solving duo of Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge? Especial A Rogue’s Company by Allison Montclair begins with a brother and sister on a boat on an African lake when tragedy strikes. With that scene fresh in our minds, we find that Bainbridge family is under the scrutiny of an African man who is posing as a gardener. Why is he surveilling the Bainbridge family? What is his relationship to the brother and sister on the boat? What does all of this mean for for the match-making, mystery-solving duo of Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge? Especially when said gardener shows up at their business asking to be matched. From the very first novel in the Sparks & Bainbridge series, The Right Sort of Man (see my review), I have been hooked by the unlikely duo of Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge. Sparks has a dark history, having been a spy during the WWII, and doing what needed to be done. Gwen, on the other hand, is an aristocrat whose husband, Ronnie, died during the war, which left her broken and battling her parents-in-law for her son. But she harbors a strength that is becoming more apparent as the novels go on, not to mention her knack for being able to tell immediately if someone is lying to her or not. Together they complement each other. In A Rogue’s Company, we learn more about Lord Bainbridge and his dealings in Africa. But we learn even more about Lord Bainbridge and Lady Bainbridge as people. Montclair shows us just how human these people are, how multi-faceted. Individuals in these novels are not black and white, but layers of gray and ever-intriguing. Amidst the mystery of a murdered man and his relationship to the Bainbridges, if there is indeed one, we learn more about Sparks’ past, the demons that she is dealing with. While Gwen is an ever-evolving character, Sparks is an onion. Layer after layer shows us so much about who she is and what she’s been dealing with and what she’s lost. So much excellent characterization! The novel is fast-paced and, yes, I’ll use the ever review-worthy phrase: page-turning. This is easily a novel that you could pick up and read in a day, if life didn’t interfere. I enjoyed every single swish of the page. If you are a mystery lover, especially one who loves historical mysteries, and haven’t read any in this series, give it a go. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I certainly haven’t been. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Bragg

    Who would think that a marriage bureau in 1946 run by two women, could be dangerous? Did the business attract the danger, or was it something or someone else? In the mean time, Gwen is fighting her dead husband's father for her independence and the custody of her own son! The imperious man had taken advantage of her grief, had her admitted to an asylum and declared unfit, and the court granted him guardianship of her child, Ronnie. Now, with no legal standing, and despite running a business, Gwen Who would think that a marriage bureau in 1946 run by two women, could be dangerous? Did the business attract the danger, or was it something or someone else? In the mean time, Gwen is fighting her dead husband's father for her independence and the custody of her own son! The imperious man had taken advantage of her grief, had her admitted to an asylum and declared unfit, and the court granted him guardianship of her child, Ronnie. Now, with no legal standing, and despite running a business, Gwen deals with daily mistreatment from her in-laws, tries to raise her son as a loving boy, and rebuild her self confidence. Her first step is to secretly visit a man who has a violent past; who gives people like her a means to fight back. Iris and Gwen find out just how perilous their quiet business--and lives--can be, when there's a murder a little too close to home, followed by kidnappings. What is at the heart of these crimes and who calls the shots? Who can two (defenseless?) women turn to? One thing we slowly learn is that the criminals are in for a bumpy ride. Iris has a secret past and Gwen is just discovering hidden strengths. These are not ordinary women. This book was a delight to read. I enjoyed the adventure, Gwen's self-discovery, and the unfolding of the mystery. There are even hints at romance (but nothing detailed--yay!). Swearing is light and minimal. I will be reading other books by this author, and hope to read many more! Side Note: I loved reading about this era. How accurate details are, I don't know, but the reminder of the blackouts across Europe (and America) made me stop and do some quick research. As difficult as social distancing and wearing masks is for us (because of the Covid-19 virus), the blackouts lasted 4 years, and were much more restrictive and difficult. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this book preview!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Harold Walters

    A GoodReads GiveAway Gwendolyn Bainbridge and Iris Sparks, post-war matchmakers, operate The Right Sort of Marriage Bureau. Gwen has joined a martial arts class because … well, because this marriage broker never knows when she will need to physically defend herself against hoodlums — kidnappers, for instance. Gwendolyn, Ronald Bainbridge’s widow, and her son Ronnie, live with her in-laws, Lord and Lady Bainbridge. Theirs is not a happy home. A breakdown Gwendolyn suffered after her husband’s dea A GoodReads GiveAway Gwendolyn Bainbridge and Iris Sparks, post-war matchmakers, operate The Right Sort of Marriage Bureau. Gwen has joined a martial arts class because … well, because this marriage broker never knows when she will need to physically defend herself against hoodlums — kidnappers, for instance. Gwendolyn, Ronald Bainbridge’s widow, and her son Ronnie, live with her in-laws, Lord and Lady Bainbridge. Theirs is not a happy home. A breakdown Gwendolyn suffered after her husband’s death on a WWII battlefield led to her being declared Lord Bainbridge’s ward and Lord Bainbridge being given custody of Ronnie. Lord Bainbridge returns from Africa ready to fulfill his intention of sending Ronnie to St. Frideswide’s school, his own alma mater, a plan totally against Gwendolyn’s — and his slain son’s — wishes. Ah, there’s the rub. … and then one day, an African man visits The Right Sort of Marriage Bureau, ostensibly seeking a bride … … and then on another day, a murdered man’s body is discovered on the grounds of the Livingstone Club, where Lord Bainbridge has been spending most of his time since his return to England … … and then on a third day, there’s a kidnapping which provides Gwendolyn with an opportunity to practice her martial arts ... This novel’s plot is, more or less, standard light murder-mystery fare with enough variation to keep it afloat in a sea of similar yarns. The outstanding thing about Rogue’s Company is its element of amusement — the book’s generally amusing tone, and especially the banter between Gwendolyn and Iris. This novel surprised me. I opened it expecting a humdrum narrative with boilerplate characters. I was unexpectedly delighted! B’ys, I was tickled various shades of pink. Thank you for reading.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    Oh, man...what a rollercoaster of a story! Not only does it contain murder and mayhem in spades but the humour is stellar. So are the varied (from bland to blunt to stoic to funny to good natured to nasty) characters. I giggled many times at the clever bantering and back and forthing...the writing is perfection. And then some. My attention was grabbed and held immediately. The novel ended too soon! Set after WWII Britain, Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwen Bainbridge are getting slightly ahead in the Oh, man...what a rollercoaster of a story! Not only does it contain murder and mayhem in spades but the humour is stellar. So are the varied (from bland to blunt to stoic to funny to good natured to nasty) characters. I giggled many times at the clever bantering and back and forthing...the writing is perfection. And then some. My attention was grabbed and held immediately. The novel ended too soon! Set after WWII Britain, Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwen Bainbridge are getting slightly ahead in their business, the Right Sort Marriage Bureau (!). Business was somewhat slow due to the effects of war but beginning to pick up. Some matchmaking comes into play amidst all the whisperings and secrets and deceit. The crimes (yes, plural) to me are almost secondary because there is just so much hijinx yet not in a condescending foolish way. Her father in law isn't exactly jolly and kind so his return from Africa adds to Gwen's stress. She is still grieving but beginning to see the world differently again and moving onward with the help of her dear young son Ronnie and friend Archie. Another friend, Sally, is one of my favourites, always "on" and banterer extraordinaire. Iris detects something amiss with Gwen. Several side stories but all intermingle beautifully. The historic details are wonderfully captured in a multi-sensory and satiating feast. Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction, Mysteries and General Fiction readers ought to be drawn to this splendid series...it certainly has wide appeal. My sincere thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this exemplary book! I LOVED it and am hankering for more.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    Things are looking up for Gwen and Iris in "A Rogue's Company," the latest Sparks and Bainbridge mystery by Allison Montclair. They've just expanded their marriage bureau and hired a new employee. Gwen feels she's close to regaining custody of her son, and her relationship with her mother-in-law has become, if not close, at least no longer adversarial. The unexpected, and very unwelcome, arrival of Gwen's father-in-law upsets them both, as it leads to trouble for Gwen, two kidnappings, and the m Things are looking up for Gwen and Iris in "A Rogue's Company," the latest Sparks and Bainbridge mystery by Allison Montclair. They've just expanded their marriage bureau and hired a new employee. Gwen feels she's close to regaining custody of her son, and her relationship with her mother-in-law has become, if not close, at least no longer adversarial. The unexpected, and very unwelcome, arrival of Gwen's father-in-law upsets them both, as it leads to trouble for Gwen, two kidnappings, and the making of some deals which may have long-term repercussions. Amidst this, Gwen and the her family are forced to reexamine the way their class views those of other cultures, and the way the British have treated their colonies. While I love Gwen and Iris, Sally is my favorite character, and I was very glad to see him as an active character in this book. True, it's still a case of him coming whenever either Iris or Gwen calls, but he seems content to hang on the periphery of their world, at least for now. Iris is sassy, as always, but we do see a bit of a vulnerable side, as she faces what she had to do, and give up, during the war when she worked as a spy. She also interacts more with Gwen's son, Ronnie, and we see that maybe she's not the "tough broad" she makes out to be. Readers may guess what's behind the kidnappings before Gwen and Iris do, but the writing crackles, and the characters are so wonderful, that the mystery isn't as important as the connections between them all. Highly recommended, along with the rest of the series. I received an advance copy from St. Martin's Press Minotaur Books and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Carin

    This third Sparks & Bainbridge mystery is just as good as the first two! To catch you up, Iris Sparks (middle-class, college-educated, WWII spy) and Gwendolyn Bainbridge (aristocracy, widow and mother, living with in-laws due to unfortunate custody situation) have started a matchmaking business, which has been going well. It's the late 1940s in London, with everyone still on rations and bombed-out buildings on every other block. In this book, Gwen's pill of a father-in-law has recently returned This third Sparks & Bainbridge mystery is just as good as the first two! To catch you up, Iris Sparks (middle-class, college-educated, WWII spy) and Gwendolyn Bainbridge (aristocracy, widow and mother, living with in-laws due to unfortunate custody situation) have started a matchmaking business, which has been going well. It's the late 1940s in London, with everyone still on rations and bombed-out buildings on every other block. In this book, Gwen's pill of a father-in-law has recently returned from his latest trip to Africa, even more of a pill than ever, determined to send her son to the same boarding school that had traumatized her husband. This makes her even more set on working to get full custody back. She finds out he's been holding back on her and due to her husband's death, she's actually supposed to have some say-so in his company (she's inherited shares) and just as they are discussing this in his car on the way to his club... they are cut off and a group of men jump out and kidnap them. Well now that's another fine mess they've gotten into! Gwen's mother-in-law smartly calls Iris despite their mutual dislike, who gets to work right away on rescuing her (and her FIL if that's absolutely necessary but if it were just him, most of them would have let him just stay kidnapped.) There's action! Adventure! We find out a new tidbit about Iris's spy antics during the war! And murder! It's much fun as usual, as our favorite amateur sleuths find themselves up to their necks in dangerous shenanigans.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    Lord Bainbridge is back from Africa and putting waste to Gwen's plan to keep his grandson-her son- from attending the horrid boarding school her late husband so despised. There's more, however, afoot, as she quickly discovers, along with her business partner Iris Sparks. Together, they run a matchmaking agency and they've been approached by an African man looking for a wife, Turns out there's more connections than they could have imagined and it all comes out when Gwen and Lord Bainbridge are ki Lord Bainbridge is back from Africa and putting waste to Gwen's plan to keep his grandson-her son- from attending the horrid boarding school her late husband so despised. There's more, however, afoot, as she quickly discovers, along with her business partner Iris Sparks. Together, they run a matchmaking agency and they've been approached by an African man looking for a wife, Turns out there's more connections than they could have imagined and it all comes out when Gwen and Lord Bainbridge are kidnapped. I'm a huge fan of this series and, to be honest, think this latest is best appreciated by those who have read at least one of the earlier books because Montclair doesn't give much of the dramatic backstory of the women. It's also, admittedly, a little confusing as to who's who in spots as she shifts from referring to them as Gwen and Iris to Sparks and Mrs. Bainbridge (consistency helps). Thee two are great characters, as are the others in their lives such as Solly, Agnes, Archie, Percival, and so on. There's nice post war atmospherics and the unusual plot line of a wealthy grieving widow who has her affairs put into guardianship. While I missed the fun of the matchmaking we've seen in earlier books, this has a cracking good and suspenseful plot that kept me guessing (I was surprised by the end!). Thanks to netgalley for the ARC. Fun read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Trude

    A Rogue's Company by Allison Montclair is the newest addition to this entertaining series. In the time after WWII Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge continue to provide a service to those in need of help finding love and marriage. Business has improved enough that they are able to expand their offices and hire a secretary! But things are never easy for our intrepid heroines....murder and kidnapping interferes with their day to day business. I love Iris and Gwen....they are engaging and fun but each A Rogue's Company by Allison Montclair is the newest addition to this entertaining series. In the time after WWII Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge continue to provide a service to those in need of help finding love and marriage. Business has improved enough that they are able to expand their offices and hire a secretary! But things are never easy for our intrepid heroines....murder and kidnapping interferes with their day to day business. I love Iris and Gwen....they are engaging and fun but each has their own issues to work through. Gwen is still mourning the loss of her husband in the war and trying to gain back custody of her son from her in laws, Iris has to face her time as an undercover operative and her feelings for her gangster boyfriend. The dialog is sharp and witty and the secondary characters are enjoyable and well developed. While the ending seemed somewhat rushed the journey to the end was exciting and fun! I can't recommend this book, this series, highly enough! A Rogue's Company can be read as a standalone but I would recommend reading at least one of the preceding books to understand our ladies better. Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Katie Bee

    Gwen's father-in-law, Lord Bainbridge, has returned home from Africa, and he is a raging despotic tyrant. Although she has recently made a fledgling alliance with Lady Bainbridge, now all seems once again lost. With Lord Bainbridge angering and abusing everyone he meets, is it any wonder that Gwen starts wondering if, like in novels, he might soon be bumped off by someone he's wronged? This is another pleasant installment in a fun series. I don't think it's quite as effective as the previous book Gwen's father-in-law, Lord Bainbridge, has returned home from Africa, and he is a raging despotic tyrant. Although she has recently made a fledgling alliance with Lady Bainbridge, now all seems once again lost. With Lord Bainbridge angering and abusing everyone he meets, is it any wonder that Gwen starts wondering if, like in novels, he might soon be bumped off by someone he's wronged? This is another pleasant installment in a fun series. I don't think it's quite as effective as the previous books; there is very little about the marriage bureau at all, which was always one of my favorite elements in the series, and the one that set it apart. Instead this book is all about Gwen's private life, and to a lesser extent Iris's love life. While this is mildly interesting, it's not as engaging or as special as the Marriage Bureau plots. In addition, I really like reading about strong heterosexual friendships that stay platonic, and I was quite disappointed when the author went a different direction with a friendship she had established in previous books. It felt like "least effort" writing and took away one of the highlights of the series for me.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Margie Bunting

    The Sparks and Bainbridge Mystery series just gets better and better. In the first book, two women recovering from blows dealt to them during WWII got together to form a business, The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Feisty Iris had been a spy in the war and thinks nothing of cheerfully consorting with gangsters, while conservative Gwen's husband had been killed in battle. In the third series entry, Gwen is still living with her in-laws, trying to regain custody of her 6-year-old son and fighting aga The Sparks and Bainbridge Mystery series just gets better and better. In the first book, two women recovering from blows dealt to them during WWII got together to form a business, The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Feisty Iris had been a spy in the war and thinks nothing of cheerfully consorting with gangsters, while conservative Gwen's husband had been killed in battle. In the third series entry, Gwen is still living with her in-laws, trying to regain custody of her 6-year-old son and fighting against his grandfather's determination to send him off to a brutal boarding school. The plot starts with a young man from Africa requesting the agency's matchmaking services, but it soon becomes so much more. Gwen's hostile guardian, Lord Bainbridge, has returned from a 6-month business trip abroad with a suspicious agenda, and soon there are a murder and a kidnapping to deal with. There is so much to love about this historical mystery series: an original premise, sparkling dialogue, believable character development, a rip-roaring adventure story, and protagonists to root for and embrace. Thoroughly delightful and highly recommended!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Celia Morse

    Activities at the Right Sort Marriage Bureau take a back seat to widowed Gwen's family issues in the third installment of this series. Her father in law has just returned from Africa and reasserted control over Gwen's young son. Coincidentally the marriage bureau had just accepted it's first African client and a man is murdered at the African explorers club frequented by Gwen's father in law. Of course none of this turns out to be coincidental. Gwen survives an accidental kidnapping with the help Activities at the Right Sort Marriage Bureau take a back seat to widowed Gwen's family issues in the third installment of this series. Her father in law has just returned from Africa and reasserted control over Gwen's young son. Coincidentally the marriage bureau had just accepted it's first African client and a man is murdered at the African explorers club frequented by Gwen's father in law. Of course none of this turns out to be coincidental. Gwen survives an accidental kidnapping with the help of her business partner Iris and her underworld boyfriend, uncovers illegal activities at her father in law's mining company, and finally discovers a most unexpected relative and connection to the African client. There are happy endings all around, but they rely too much on coincidence and unbelievably open minded attitudes from Gwen's in-laws. This is not a strong entry in the series, but hopefully Gwen will be able to put her family issues behind her and use her upper class connections to solve a real mystery in the next installment.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carol lowkey.bookish

    This book had the humor and witty banter I have grown to love about this series. However, I missed the entertaining parts of the earlier books, reading about the clients who visit The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Gwen and Iris make for interesting characters and I enjoy reading about their lives. I really liked Sally’s character and hope he makes an appearance in the next book. This book featured more information about Lord and Lady Bainbridge. Unfortunately, I don’t care for either of them, so th This book had the humor and witty banter I have grown to love about this series. However, I missed the entertaining parts of the earlier books, reading about the clients who visit The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Gwen and Iris make for interesting characters and I enjoy reading about their lives. I really liked Sally’s character and hope he makes an appearance in the next book. This book featured more information about Lord and Lady Bainbridge. Unfortunately, I don’t care for either of them, so the parts featuring them were not so much fun. I especially skimmed through the parts about Lord Bainbridge and his history. Now that I have finished book three, I am a little annoyed that certain plot points have not advanced any further than book one. I thought a few were on track to be resolved, and in the end the author pulled the characters back into the status quo. I am still a huge fan of Iris and Gwen (and Sally) and look forward to the next installment in the series. 3.5/5 rounded up

  30. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I'm new to this historical mystery series and I enjoyed it enough that I will now go back and catch up. The time is post WWII and the place is London. Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge run a marriage bureau and murder is always in the wings. Gwen is a war widow with a young son who is trying to regain custody of him from her father-in-law. Lord Bainbridge is now a major threat to all that Gwen holds dear. His Lordship is determined to send the boy away to boarding school. Iris and Gwen have a I'm new to this historical mystery series and I enjoyed it enough that I will now go back and catch up. The time is post WWII and the place is London. Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge run a marriage bureau and murder is always in the wings. Gwen is a war widow with a young son who is trying to regain custody of him from her father-in-law. Lord Bainbridge is now a major threat to all that Gwen holds dear. His Lordship is determined to send the boy away to boarding school. Iris and Gwen have a new client, one who may have ties to the Bainbridge family, ties that involve Africa. It's not long before there is murder and kidnapping and life gets really complicated. From the very dramatic introductory chapter set in Africa to the final page, I was totally engrossed. Historical mysteries this well written are the reason I love the genre. Solid, well developed characters set in well crafted puzzles with just the right touch of humor- this one has it all. My thanks to the publisher Minotaur Books and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

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