Thursday, July 23, 2020

ARC Review: A Royal Affair by Allison Montclair

A Royal Affair
Author: Allison Montclair
Series: Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery (Book 2)
Publication: Minotaur Books (July 28, 2020)

Description: More goes wrong than could be imagined when Iris Sparks and Gwendolyn Bainbridge of The Right Sort Marriage Bureau are unexpectedly engaged to dig into the past of a suitor of a royal princess in Allison Montclair’s delightful second novel, A Royal Affair.

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

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

My Thoughts: Gwen Bainbridge and Iris Sparks are pleased with the success of their new marriage bureau and are hoping to expand into the next door office and hire a secretary soon. But they need a few more successful matches before they can move.

When they get a call from a cousin of Gwen's who works "in some capacity" for the Queen, they find themselves vetting Prince Phillip as a potential suitor for Princess Elizabeth. Some anonymous letters have arrived that cast doubts on the Prince's legitimacy and Iris and Gwen need to investigate very discreetly.

Luckily, between the two of them, they have a wide variety of contacts. Iris spent time during the war working as an operative for the government and she will reluctantly call on them if it will help answer their questions. Gwen was a society girl who married, had a child, and was widowed when her husband died while in the Service. She had a breakdown which required her to spend some time in a sanatorium and has lost custody of her son to her in-laws. Gwen does have a number of contacts among society people though.

This investigation has the two women looking into the events of 1922 when Prince Phillip's father and family were rescued from Greece and have them looking at the various factions of the Greek communities in London along with what British spies knew then. The women aren't sure who they can trust, not even Gwen's cousin from the Palace.

I enjoyed the witty dialog in this entertaining historical romance. I liked the personalities and problems of both of the main characters. The side characters ranging from Iris's old friends from Cambridge to newly mustered out soldiers to some London gangsters were also interesting and well-developed. The mystery was also well-plotted.

Favorite Quote:
"I'm letting you off here," he said, helping Gwen onto the shore. "I have to return the boat before the owner notices it's gone missing."

"I thought you borrowed it," said Iris as she stepped out, unassisted.

"It's a loose concept," he said. "I also have to return the motorcycle I borrowed. And the auto I borrowed. What wonderful, oblivious friends I have! I'll call you if I need bail."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. That excerpt was wonderful and shows very wry British humor at its best.


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