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.
In Montclair's stellar sequel to 2019's The Right Sort of Man, former British intelligence operative Iris Sparks and widow Gwen Bainbridge, who teamed up after WWII to run a business seeking to match up prospective spouses, are offered a highly sensitive assignment in 1946 London. Gwen's titled cousin, Lady Patience Matheson, who works for Queen Elizabeth, the consort of George VI, wants the partners of the Right Sort of Marriage Bureau to vet Prince Philip, the intended of the heir apparent, the future Elizabeth II. The then-princess has received an anonymous letter, intercepted by her protectors, stating "I have what Talbot found in Corfu" and that there will be a price for returning "them" to Alice, Philip's mother. Iris and Gwen agree to investigate what the message is referring to, so that Lady Matheson can assess whether the prince is a suitable mate for the princess. Montclair successfully combines the insightful characterizations of Jacqueline Winspear with the witty banter of Hammett's Nick and Nora Charles. Fans of the British royal family will have fun.
Enjoyable, Fun Read
A ROYAL AFFAIR is a fun book. The heroines complement each other nicely, and their witty exchanges really brought them and the other characters to life. I liked the fresh story, the fast pace, and the action. Historical mystery fans who favor reads on the lighter side are sure to enjoy this book.
Disclosure: I received a free, uncorrected proof of this book.