Review: A Royal Affair (Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery #2) by Allison Montclair

After reading the first book in this new historical mystery series last year at about this same time, I was eager to read the next installment and see how well the next mystery satisfied.

I remembered really enjoying the relationship between the two main characters, Iris and Gwen. I thought they were funny and paired well together so I was eager to see how that translated in this latest mystery.

The other thing that I thought sounded so much fun was this book was that this time the mystery was to include members of the royal family.


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. (summary from Goodreads


This latest mystery started off really strong. There was a lot of same humor and quirks from the main characters that I recalled loving in the first book. There was also the pull of the royal price vetting and the history of Prince Phillip and his family which I didn’t know too much about so that made it even more fun.

But then as the mystery started to get more complex, I noticed that the humor tapered off which was a little disappointing but perhaps necessary considering, though I would have liked some of the hallmark humor to hold fast through the book.

With the mystery itself, there were quite a few people involved and a bunch of different people that could have had motives and I thought that added a lot of twists and suspicions. I think it will keep readers guessing and trying to figure everything out all the way until the end.

As this is the second book in the series, I suggest going back and reading the first book. While it might not be wholly necessary, I think it will help orientate the readers with the characters and their lives, meaning specifically Iris and Gwen. Seeing as how it’s only the one book prior to this one, I would recommend reading book one first and then trying this one out.

I love the post war feel of this book and I think the author does a great job capturing that time period and adding some fun historical facts to a great mystery. This is an exciting new mystery series and I am looking forward to more books from her!

Book Info and Rating

Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: July 28th 2020 by Minotaur Books (first published June 9th 2020)
ISBN 1250178398 (ISBN13: 9781250178398)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Minotaur Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: historical mystery


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