Share This

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Review - A Royal Affair

"It's refreshing to see believable female friends in a historical mystery...Fans of period mysteries by authors such as Ashley Weaver and Deanna Raybourn will appreciate this gutsy duo."  -- "Library Journal"

This is the second in this new historical mystery.  I started with the debut, The Right Sort of Man (review: click here).  I think the second book doesn't disappoint. 

Allison Montclair

Copyright: July 2020 (Minotaur) 326 pgs

Series: 2nd in Sparks & Bainbridge Mysteries

Sensuality: mild references

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge owners of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau

Setting: 1946, London

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Book Blurb: "More goes wrong than could be imagined when Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau are unexpectedly engaged to dig into the past of a suitor of a royal princess.

In London 1946, The Right Sort Marriage Bureau is just beginning to take off and the proprietors, Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, are in need of a bigger office and a secretary to handle the growing demand. Unfortunately, they don't yet have the necessary means. So when a woman arrives—a cousin of Gwen's—with an interesting and quite remunerative proposition, the two of them are all ears.

The cousin, one Lady Matheson, works for the Queen in "some capacity" and is in need of some discreet investigation. It seems that the Princess Elizabeth has developed feelings for a dashing Greek prince and a blackmail note has arrived, alluding to some potentially damaging information about said prince. Wanting to keep this out of the palace gossip circles, but also needing to find out what skeletons might lurk in the prince's closet, the palace has quietly turned to Gwen and Iris. Without causing a stir, the two of them must now find out what secrets lurk in the prince's past, before his engagement to the future Queen of England is announced. And there's more at stake than the future of the Empire —there is their potential new office that lies in the balance."

Miss Iris Sparks is single with a highly classified background in the war, probably spying. She seems fearless, relying upon her "unique skill set".  Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge is still grieving her husband's death, but doing better than she had when she was institutionalized by her inlaws for a breakdown during her grief, when they also took custody of her son. 
Iris has a new boyfriend that is on the wrong side of the law and I wonder how long that will last.  Sally is their hired muscle and assistant who writes plays.  I think his character is refreshing and want more.

Post war London is the backdrop and serves well without taking the spotlight.  The plot may have started out as a blackmail case but is revealed as far more as it twists and turns. Iris and Gwen untangle layers of subterfuge.  It took a few chapters to really unfold, but once it did I simply couldn't put it down.

The confrontation is a grand affair with plenty of drama, just superlative.  The wrap up is short but leaves you wanting the next book.

Iris and Gwen cement their friendship further in more than just intrigue, but in emotional growth as well. This is a beautiful example of women in healthy friendships that don't revolve around discussing men, but rather the realities of life.
The hallmark of this series is the snarky banter between Iris and Gwen that is on full display in this novel.

Rating: Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend. 

Here is a short talk after the first book came out.  Enjoy.

Bookmark and Share


Related Posts with Thumbnails