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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. 4 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. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Another wonderful addition to the Sparks and Bainbridge historical mystery series. Insight into the ladies' past, their rock-solid friendship and an interesting bit of suspense round out the storyline. The characters continue to grow on me and I can't wait for the 4th installment! Another wonderful addition to the Sparks and Bainbridge historical mystery series. Insight into the ladies' past, their rock-solid friendship and an interesting bit of suspense round out the storyline. The characters continue to grow on me and I can't wait for the 4th installment!

  4. 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.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Susan in NC

    4.5 stars - Another witty, exciting, fast-paced mystery with my favorite post-war marriage bureau, and the two proprietors, Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge. This series is set in London in 1946 - Gwen is a blue-blooded war widow with a six-year-old son; she fell apart when her husband died in combat, was committed to a sanatorium, lives with her in-laws and son because they have custody of the child. Iris had a very active wartime working as a spy - she is still working through the implications 4.5 stars - Another witty, exciting, fast-paced mystery with my favorite post-war marriage bureau, and the two proprietors, Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge. This series is set in London in 1946 - Gwen is a blue-blooded war widow with a six-year-old son; she fell apart when her husband died in combat, was committed to a sanatorium, lives with her in-laws and son because they have custody of the child. Iris had a very active wartime working as a spy - she is still working through the implications of things she saw and did. The two women met at a wedding of mutual friends, hit it off, and decided to open The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. This is only the third book in the series, but it is reliably clever, exciting, and peopled with quirky, interesting characters, and a interesting view of postwar London. In this mystery, Lord Bainbridge, Gwen’s dictatorial father-in-law, returns from a long visit to Africa, checking on the family’s vast holdings. He seems crankier than usual, and renews threats to send little Ronnie, Gwen’s son, off to the same boarding school his father attended, despite (view spoiler)[the letter Gwen discovered in a previous book, from her husband Ronald, asking her specifically NOT to send their son to the school, which he hated. (hide spoiler)] Gwen is desperate to be declared competent and get custody back of her son - meanwhile, the marriage bureau is expanding, adding a secretary, the delightful Mrs. Billington (I look forward to seeing more of her in future books), and more office space. A young African man comes to sign up as a client, but Gwen gets a feeling he’s lying about the real reason for seeking them out. Soon, there’s a murder at the Livingstone Club, the exclusive men’s club for old Africa hands, and Lord Bainbridge seems very edgy about it. Something fishy is going on with the family business, and Gwen is beginning to wonder if her father-in-law, the new African client, and the murdered man are somehow connected. No spoilers, but soon her life is in danger. This was a great chance to learn more about Gwen, her difficult in-laws, the business empire that is the source of the family’s wealth, and tag along for another visit with the ladies and their friends. I love the friendship and humor the two very different women share, and the way they compliment each other as friends and business partners. The ending was both exciting, and eye-opening, about the secrets Lord Bainbridge had been hiding. I look forward to the next visit with these characters to see how the various relationships are going, how the marriage bureau is expanding, and whatever adventures Gwen and Iris will get into next!

  6. 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)

  7. 4 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...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    THE GWEN AND SALLY OF IT ALL MADE ME WANT TO CLAW MY FACE OFF. Ahem. So I was very worried about this given the opening of the book and what the introduction of African characters would do to the text. Prejudice exists now, it existed then, to include it is not wrong, but that's not what you always want to read. And on the whole, I think this was fairly well done and fit the characters in the book. I continue to be delighted by Gwen's development as a character, and the romantic developments for THE GWEN AND SALLY OF IT ALL MADE ME WANT TO CLAW MY FACE OFF. Ahem. So I was very worried about this given the opening of the book and what the introduction of African characters would do to the text. Prejudice exists now, it existed then, to include it is not wrong, but that's not what you always want to read. And on the whole, I think this was fairly well done and fit the characters in the book. I continue to be delighted by Gwen's development as a character, and the romantic developments for both Iris/Archie and Gwen/Sally were very good. Iris had some nice character work as well, in confronting some of her past war actions and the changing nature of her relationship with Sally. I really, really hope there are more books to come.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    A Rogue's Company is the third in the Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery series, and while you could pick it up on its own I think you'll get more out of it if you have read the other two books in the series. I adore this whole series, it's cozy mystery but with a side of hilarity and adventure. The dialogue always makes me chuckle too, and anyone who knows me knows that good dialogue in a book is definitely the way to my heart. Set in 1940s London, Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs Gwendolyn Bainbridge have thei A Rogue's Company is the third in the Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery series, and while you could pick it up on its own I think you'll get more out of it if you have read the other two books in the series. I adore this whole series, it's cozy mystery but with a side of hilarity and adventure. The dialogue always makes me chuckle too, and anyone who knows me knows that good dialogue in a book is definitely the way to my heart. Set in 1940s London, Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs Gwendolyn Bainbridge have their own matchmaking business called The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. The only problem is that they keep ending up being thrown into (and solving) all sorts of mysteries that have nothing much to do with matchmaking...murder, kidnapping etc. In this book we get to see more of their personal and family life too, which really helps you understand some of their perspectives on things. In particular, Gwen is dealing with some toxic family relationships, especially where her father-in-law is concerned. If you haven't already, I definitely encourage you to pick up this series. You won't regret it!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Beck

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

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    I read Montclair’s A Rogue’s Company with a relish I did not experience with #2, A Royal Affair, though I obviously loved the series from its début, The Right Sort Of Man. I enjoyed A Rogue’s Company because Montclair (pseudonym for Alan Gordon) returned to giving us more of the characters’ lives and histories. Montclair is not one to write much of his characters’ inner lives, but providing us with more of their motivations and histories made for a better book than his sophomore effort. (Not exa I read Montclair’s A Rogue’s Company with a relish I did not experience with #2, A Royal Affair, though I obviously loved the series from its début, The Right Sort Of Man. I enjoyed A Rogue’s Company because Montclair (pseudonym for Alan Gordon) returned to giving us more of the characters’ lives and histories. Montclair is not one to write much of his characters’ inner lives, but providing us with more of their motivations and histories made for a better book than his sophomore effort. (Not exactly “sophomore”: let it be said that Gordon wrote tons of mysteries under his real name and A Royal Affair is “sophomore” only for his Montclair persona.) In A Rogue’s Company, our two match-making amateur detectives, Mrs. Gwen Bainbridge and Miss Iris Sparks, are approached for a match by a Black man. They’re nonplussed because their connections stop at White and English-born, but they’re keen to expand the business and offer services to a diverse clientele. It was a good move on Montclair’s part to create a mystery with some sense of London’s post-WWII diversity, but prejudice and racism are only surface-skimmed. This is crime fiction of the, if not cozy, light variety, well-written, witty, with likeable characters. The back-cover blurb will provide some of the plot details: 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. While the blurb leans to the dramatic, A Rogue’s Company has a flat, matter-of-fact tone with matter-of-fact protagonists. For me, the most dramatic aspect of the novels is Gwen’s struggle with her in-laws to regain custody of her son. To provide some background, not a spoiler because this is evident from the first book, when Gwen’s husband, Ronald, was killed in the war, her grief was so intense her in-laws had her declared incompetent and gained custody of Ronnie Jr. What A Rogue’s Company further reveals to us is what terrible people they are: and yet, one of Montclair’s strengths is how nuanced he creates them. In many ways, odious; in others, understandably flawed and human. Gwen, on the other hand, is a character who carries a wonderful growth arc, becoming stronger with every novel. She remains compassionate and loving, but more confident in her abilities and readings. If it were only for Gwen, I would continue to read the series. I do love Sparks too with her tainted past and guilty conscience. We don’t learn as much about her as we do Gwen in this latest in the series, but I hope Montclair remedies that. Iris has a Kate-Quinn-Alice-Network-ish past and I’d love to see Montclair dig deeper into her history. What makes the series great, however, are not these two characters individually, but their friendship, kind of stiff-upper-lip English and quipping to hide affection, but steadfast and loyal; their banter is as amusing as any romance protagonists. Other than his two marvelous protagonists, Montclair navigates several “worlds”: the fading upper crust in the Bainbridges; the post-war, more modern world in Iris; and, in Iris’s boyfriend and his cronies, a gangster world of petty and major crime. When Lord Bainbridge makes his appearance on the scene, we have yet another “world”, that of the beginning of the end of the British Empire and its pernicious colonialism. One of Montclair’s strengths is how he makes the ethos of gangster and colonialist pretty much the same. The gangsters, however, while they’re a lot of fun at times are also cartoonish and not-terribly believable. What is believable is the wit and wisdom of Gwen and Iris, their deep moral sense, their ability to see through to the heart of things, and their love for their work and little Ronnie, who’s as marvelous a little-boy character as I’ve read. I want him firmly in his mother’s custody, drawing narwhals and partaking, at least safely, in the continued adventures of Sparks and Bainbridge, who are truly the “right sort”. Allison Montclair’s A Rogue’s Company is published by Minotaur Books. It was released in June of this year and may be found at your preferred vendors (if you haven’t read the first two books, I’d start there). I received an e-galley of A Rogue’s Company, via Netgalley, from Minotaur Books, for the purpose of writing this review.

  12. 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!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Former spy Iris Sparks and well-born widow Gwen Bainbridge are making a go of their marriage bureau until Gwen's father-in-law returns from his business trip to Africa, as determined as ever to send her six-year-old son to the boarding school where her husband had been so unhappy as a child. Meanwhile, the pair are surprised when an African student appears, wanting to find a mate. Gwen's intuition tells her that he is lying, and he also seems to be following her. When Gwen disappears, Iris bring Former spy Iris Sparks and well-born widow Gwen Bainbridge are making a go of their marriage bureau until Gwen's father-in-law returns from his business trip to Africa, as determined as ever to send her six-year-old son to the boarding school where her husband had been so unhappy as a child. Meanwhile, the pair are surprised when an African student appears, wanting to find a mate. Gwen's intuition tells her that he is lying, and he also seems to be following her. When Gwen disappears, Iris brings in her boyfriend, who runs an East End gang, and her long-time friend Sally, whose innocuous name conceals a formidable fighting man. But Gwen can fight some of her own battles, too. I've only read two of this series, but enjoyed them both immensely. Lighter than the Maisie Dobbs series, but also reflecting the strength of women and their friendships.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    I absolutely LOVE this series! Two smart, capable independent female main characters, great writing and plenty of humour - what's NOT to love?? Sparks and Bainbridge are coming into their stride in this third installment of the series with their business. Their personal lives, well, that's a bit more complicated. On the up side, it makes for an entertaining story for the reader. I love, love, LOVE these characters. Both women are complicated and ornery to the people in their lives, but they are al I absolutely LOVE this series! Two smart, capable independent female main characters, great writing and plenty of humour - what's NOT to love?? Sparks and Bainbridge are coming into their stride in this third installment of the series with their business. Their personal lives, well, that's a bit more complicated. On the up side, it makes for an entertaining story for the reader. I love, love, LOVE these characters. Both women are complicated and ornery to the people in their lives, but they are also so likable and relatable that I just can't get enough of them and their adventures. I also adore the clever way author Allison Montclair works humour into the books - I frequently laugh out loud listening to them (I get these books in audio format because the narrator is just excellent, and really takes the books to the next level of enjoyment if you like audio books this is a great series to listen to!). If you like strong female characters, interesting, well-conceived plots and a few laughs then this is a great series you may enjoy. I certainly do!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    3.5/5 - I think I still prefer the second entry so far but I loved the addition of Lord Bainbridge, a hateworthy creation, as well as other characters and the deepening of romantic possibilities.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ram Kaushik

    An enjoyable romp like the others in this series. Sparks and Bainbridge extricate themselves from scarcely believable situations that stretch your imagination but the prose and humor make it all forgivable.

  17. 5 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 4 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.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    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.

  21. 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.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Antoinette

    Sparks and Bainbridge face new challenges in their matchmaking business when an African-born gentleman registers at the agency. They have no African ladies to match him with. Then Gwen Bainbridge is kidnapped and Sparks enlists all the allies she can find. Fast-paced plot, interesting post WWII London setting, fascinating characters. Recommended for all historical mystery fans. Looking forward to #4.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Discovering the Sparks and Bainbridge mysteries was one of the reading highlights of 2021 for me and I've enjoyed each book more than the last. It's such a fun and well-written series that manages a perfect balance of comedy and seriousness, and I especially love the reccuring side characters who are indispensable to the Right Sort Marriage Bureau. Discovering the Sparks and Bainbridge mysteries was one of the reading highlights of 2021 for me and I've enjoyed each book more than the last. It's such a fun and well-written series that manages a perfect balance of comedy and seriousness, and I especially love the reccuring side characters who are indispensable to the Right Sort Marriage Bureau.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Gulley

    I really like this series. This time there wasn't much of the about the workings of the marriage bureau, and more about Gwen getting her life back on track and battling her father in law for custody of her son. Also, she learns, her inheritance. An interesting story, great prologue, but a thin mystery. I really like this series. This time there wasn't much of the about the workings of the marriage bureau, and more about Gwen getting her life back on track and battling her father in law for custody of her son. Also, she learns, her inheritance. An interesting story, great prologue, but a thin mystery.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eden

    2021 bk 313: IThis was more tightly drawn than the 2nd of the series - and equally as enjoyable as the first and second combined. I think that Montclair has found her pacing and style in this series of mysteries set just at the ending and post WWII period. There was not as much match making, in fact, none, in this title - but the mystery did well at telling the many connections between England's African colonies and itself. Well done! 2021 bk 313: IThis was more tightly drawn than the 2nd of the series - and equally as enjoyable as the first and second combined. I think that Montclair has found her pacing and style in this series of mysteries set just at the ending and post WWII period. There was not as much match making, in fact, none, in this title - but the mystery did well at telling the many connections between England's African colonies and itself. Well done!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    This series is fast-paced and fun to read when you’re in the mood for something lighter but not quite a “cozy” mystery.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    I loved it. This series started well, and keeps getting better. The characters of Iris Sparks and Gwen Bainbridge, already interesting and well-rounded, are developed further in this book, and Sally and Archie Spelling make welcome appearances. And the dialog! As usual, vastly entertaining.

  28. 4 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.

  29. 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!

  30. 5 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.

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