Monthly Archives: December 2020

The Book Whisperer Enjoys Space Words


Chris Ferrie,, has written a number of books featuring science topics for young children. My First 100 Space Words is a colorful board book for the very young. It provides an excellent introduction to words like constellation, cosmic dust, solar, and space junk.

Now, perhaps an eight-month-old or even a two-year-old won’t grasp all of the concepts covered in My First 100 Space Words. That’s not the important issue in reading the book to a young child. Introducing the words is the important part.

As the child grows, other books appropriate for his or her age can introduce the concepts again and with greater explanations. Thus, the child begins to use the terms as appropriate for his or her age.

The colorful illustrations by Lindsay Dale Scott will keep the child’s attention too. The illustrations are crisp and clear. Children and parents will enjoy saying such words as spectroscopy, ultraviolet, and autonomous robot as they go through the book.

Too, with such board books, parents don’t have to read to the children from page one to the end. They can dip into the book at any point and read the words aloud, pointing out the objects as they read.

I am not suggesting that infants or even two-year old children will understand all the words in My First 100 Space Words. We do know, however, that introducing words to a child will take hold; then later as the child matures, he or she will be able to add to those words with meaning. In truth, My First 100 Space Words is a book to be enjoyed by parents and children.

Illustrations by artist Lindsay Dale Scott,, will intrigue all readers.

I received a free copy from Sourcebooks and Earlyreads in exchange for my fair review.


The Book Whisperer Is Ecstatic


What is the mark of a talented novelist? That question can have many answers. The one I have in mind by asking the question follows here: A talented novelist can tell many stories and surprise the readers by telling quite diverse stories. Such is the case with Anne Youngson who debuted Meet me at the Museum after she had a long career in the car industry.

I discovered Meet me at the Museum and reviewed it for my blog, calling it a gem of a novel. And it is! I have recommended it to many friends and chose it for a book club discussion. I also nominated it for the Books Sandwiched In series, a program sponsored by the Friends of the Tulsa City-County Libraries and it was chosen for the book talk.

When I discovered Youngson was publishing The Narrowboat Summer, her next novel, in January 2021, I very much wanted to be an early reader. Luckily for me, I received an advance e-copy from BookBrowse.

Many readers could read Meet me at the Museum and then read The Narrowboat Summer and not realize the two are by the same author. Indeed, the two stories are that different, and yet, one will find commonalities surfacing, particularly in view of friendship, love, kindness, hope and forgiveness.  

The Narrowboat Summer opens with three women, strangers to one another, and all at a crossroads in their lives, converging on a towpath of a canal. Eve and Sally are walking toward one another when they hear a terrible howling; clearly, the howling comes from a dog confined on the narrowboat named Number One. Is the dog hurt? In pain? Without a thought to themselves, both Eve and Sally jump onto the boat to rescue the dog even though as readers will come to learn Sally does not like dogs.

In order to rescue the dog, Eve and Sally break a window in the door on the Number One in order to reach the dog. About that time, Anastasia, the boat’s owner and, also coincidentally, the dog’s owner, arrives. Anastasia says to Eve and Sally, “You’ve been on my boat. You’d better explain why.”

Strangely, Anastasia approves Eve and Sally’s method of rescuing the dog rather than reporting Anastasia to the RSPCA.  Eve and Sally offer to pay for replacing the glass in the door.  After a short discussion, Anastasia refuses the offer to pay for the glass, but does allow Eve and Sally a chance to clean up the broken glass, so then, of course, the three must have tea.  

Readers quickly learn that Eve, an engineer, has been made redundant at the Rambusch Corporation after an American outfit purchased the company. Sally has decided she no longer wishes to be married nor does she wish to continue living in the cottage on Beech Grove where she and Duncan, her husband, have raised their son and daughter. Anastasia’s cross to bear is illness. She needs tests and possibly an operation which may also require follow-up chemo treatments.

A chance meeting of three women, all in need of something with only Anastasia being the most certain of those needs, will set the three on a unusual course. Anastasia’s boat needs some repair and must go through the locks and down the canal to Chester where Owen who runs a boat repair yard will make the repairs. Although they know nothing about conducting a narrowboat along the canals, Eve and Sally agree to take Anastasia’s boat to Chester while Anastasia stays in Eve’s flat to have the medical tests she needs.

Over the course of the journey, Eve and Sally meet an unusual cast of characters, all of whom know Anastasia in some capacity. As the journey progresses, Eve and Sally become expert at handing the Number One. They fall into the water culture, meeting new people and learning a bit more about Anastasia along the way. However, the surprise to both Eve and Sally is that they also learn about themselves and their own capabilities.

Eve has a peripheral knowledge of Jacob and Vic, her neighbors in her building. Jacob befriends Anastasia, prickly as she is, and that friendship also creates a new relationship between Eve and Jacob and eventually Vic as well. These friendships deepen because Anastasia needs the new and old friends as she confronts her illness and thus connections begin to strengthen like bits of tether from the boat itself.

The Narrowboat Summer will be a winner for a book club discussion. First, the story is simply beguiling. Second, readers will find much to ponder as the three women’s stories unfold. Third, The Narrowboat Summer is just plain fun with the added bonus of engendering a thoughtful, stimulating discussion.

To learn a bit about narrow boats and their history, I looked up some information. Originally, the narrow boats were prominent during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries as working boats which carried all manner of goods along the narrow canals. No longer needed to transport goods, the narrow boats became pleasure boats. Some people live on the boats full time while others rent them for a vacation or recreation.

The Number Ones, like Anastasia’s boat, were boats owned by self-employed boatmen.

The Book Whisperer Endorses a Gratitude Journal


This Christmas, I gave myself the gift of The One-Minute Gratitude Journal by Brenda Nathan. I read other customers’ reviews which were all positive. I like the colorful cover on the journal, and I like the format of the pages.

The page begins with a day and date followed by “Today I am grateful for_____________.” The prompt provides six lines for the gratitude of that day. The fact that the writer does not feel the need to write a great deal each day will encourage the habit of daily writing even for the reluctant.

Scattered throughout the book, one will also find a page titled simply: “Draw something.” Now, I am not an artist, but I could paste a picture there to represent an idea, a feeling, and/or a thought on that date.

One can find many articles about the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal. The problem for many people, however, is keeping up the habit. That made me think about ways to form good habits. I found an article titled “15 Key Tips to Develop Good Habits.” I find the first three the most compelling: “Start with small adjustments; be positive; and once you make the decision, commit to it.”

I am thinking positively that I will keep up with the gratitude journal by following those three recommendations.

Nathan’s note titled “Gratitude” found at the beginning of The One-Minute Gratitude Journal provides good advice. My favorite part of that opening, however, is a quotation from Emily Dickinson: “Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.”

The Book Whisperer Reads Historical Fiction


A boy and his dog discover something “sharp on the top of a slushy snow-covered glacier.” The boy begins to dig into the snow and ice.  What does he discover and why is this object in this place?

EO-N by Dave Mason unfolds in two time periods: 2019 with the boy’s discovery of the sharp, metal object and 1945 and the war in Europe. A group of unlikely characters join to provide readers with a riveting story of loss, horror, brutality and yet hope. The story delves into some of the many atrocities committed by the Nazis in the “name of medical science.”

Alison Wiley, a biotech CEO, uncovers evidence of an atrocity that may actually turn out to be the opposite of the Nazi’s desired results. This discovery seems particularly interesting as we are in the midst of a world-wide pandemic in 2020 that could do with a vaccine that would produce antibodies to the deadly virus. As we know, two vaccines are now being administered for the current virus.

Alison knows she will have a difficult road ahead of her, but the material she has found could potentially lead to a successful drug to treat cancer.

However, I am getting ahead of myself. First, the story must unfold from the past with all of its details of horror and mistreatment of human beings. The glimmer of hope that kept good people moving forward during WWII is also pervasive in the story.

Mason has written a compelling story that keeps readers looking for the next turn. Those who look forward to the next historical fiction will find EO-N riveting as they discover lives and actions coming together. Clearly, the heart of the story contains a mystery as well, another spellbinding method Mason has used to keep readers on the edge of their seats as they read.

Book clubs, particularly those which focus heavily on historical fiction or fiction based in WWII and forward will find much to discuss in EO-N. That being said, it is not a man’s book or a woman’s book. Those are designations I do not like when discussing a book. The question “will a woman like reading this book” is not relevant just as “will a man like reading this book” is not either. It is a story for all to read and discuss.

EO-N is Mason’s debut novel. Mason’s life-long love of history is evident in EO-N. In an interview, Mason explained, “For me, history is an everchanging thing, but what’s ‘known’ is massively outweighed by what’s not known.” And therein lies the tale that Mason explores in EO-N. Dave Mason was born in England, but he grew up in Canada. By training, he is a graphic artist and now a novelist. Discover more on Mason’s Website:

I must also add that I received a free copy of EO-N from BookTrib in exchange for my fair and honest review.

The Book Whisperer Discovers a Charming Christmas Story


Recently, I stopped at my library’s curbside pickup in order to leave small Christmas treats for the librarian and one of her assistants who lead the monthly book club. I noticed a sign about a winter contest. By requesting a book with winter or Christmas in the title, one would be entered into a drawing to win a book.

I asked the librarian who answered the phone for a book with winter or Christmas in the title so I could enter the contest. She asked, “Do you have an author in mind?” I responded, “No, you choose.” And I am glad I made that request. She brought me Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan.

We’re in the midst of Christmas and a pandemic and a still contentious election, so a Christmas book to provide a distraction from that noise and with a happy ending sounded like the proper ticket for me. And I am happy to report that Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop fits the bill. I am not spoiling anything by saying the story DOES have a happy ending because I desperately needed a story with a happy ending. Readers will have to discover how that ending develops, though, by reading!

“A Word from Jenny” prefaces the story of Rosie Hopkins and her sweet shop. Reading that note made me feel as if I were reading a letter especially for me even though, obviously, all other readers could read it too before delving into the story. Colgan recounts how the story of Rosie and the sweet shop came into her head. She mentions being a fan of James Herriot’s books and that she wanted to pay homage to her love of those books and their setting. Readers will also discover Colgan’s love of dogs as found in the story, another nod to Herriot.

As one who loves stories set in English villages, I couldn’t help but like Lipton, the village where Rosie’s Sweet shop is located in Derbyshire. It reminds me of Miss Marple’s village of St. Mary Mead, only without a murder involved.

Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop does provide readers with a story of family, love, trust, and a bit of a mystery as well. Rosie goes to Lipton to take care of Evelyn, her great-aunt, who has owned the sweet shop for years. Unfortunately, Lillian has broken her hip and needs help now. Rosie, a nurse, has been living in London; she quickly adapts to village life and becomes friends with the long-time villagers.

Rosie even finds romance in Lipton, falling in love with Stephen, local heir. Rosie and Stephen live in Lillian’s cottage that is just a stone’s throw from the sweet shop. Lillian is recovering from her broken hip in the local nursing home. Rosie visits Lillian often and takes Lillian to the shop as well.

A good story must have some conflict. Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop gives us plenty of conflict. While Rosie and Stephen are in love with one another, their relationship does have some rocky moments. Then Rosie’s brother Pip, his wife, three children, and Rosie’s mother all unexpectedly tell Rosie they are coming from Australia for Christmas. Lillian’s cottage is not large enough for all these people, but Stephen owns a home on his family’s estate, so Rosie cleans the home and sets it up for her family’s two-week visit.

Naturally, Stephen has a crotchety mother—at least on the exterior. Then a truck careens into the local primary school, damaging the building and injuring several children and Stephen, their teacher. This accident throws the village into turmoil because the cost of repairing the school may be more than the village can afford. However, if the school is not repaired, the children will have to be bused more than hour to the next larger village.

After everyone has been assessed for damage and those most badly injured taken to the hospital in the next village, Rosie realizes she must act to save the school. In truth, saving the school will save the village and her sweet shop as well as the other small businesses there.

The mystery in the story revolves around an elderly man, James Boyd, a WWII veteran. Boyd’s son Edward decides to put his father, who is suffering from dementia, into the local nursing home. There, James sees Lillian and old memories resurface for both of them. What do they share in the past?

Jenny Colgan has quite an extensive list of published novels. A few years ago, I read Bookshop on the Corner, set in a Scottish village. As readers of this blog already know, stories set in bookshops and libraries are a favorite of The Book Whisperer. The list is too long to provide here, but see her Website for much more: The site includes recipes as does Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop. Readers can also sign up to receive Colgan’s newsletter in order to stay up-to-date with her newest books.

For those in need of a good story with a happy ending, look no further than Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop. Enjoy!

The Book Whisperer Reviews A BookTrib Selection


Since early 2020, I have been reviewing books for BookTrib. In exchange for a free book, I provide an unbiased review and post that review on my blog and other social media accounts. This opportunity offers a win-win for me since I get a steady stream of books to read. I also enjoy writing, so writing the reviews represents another win.

The most recent book I received from BookTrib is Synchronicities on the Avenue of the Saints by Deborah Gaal, Another perk of receiving the books from BookTrib is that I learn about authors I might not otherwise have encountered. Although Deborah Gaal won awards for The Dream Stitcher, I was unfamiliar with her novels until Synchronicities on the Avenue of the Saints arrived on my doorstep.

To clarify the term, synchronicity for myself, I looked it up. Analytical psychologist Carl Jung introduced the concept “which holds that events are meaningful coincidences if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.” A further connection in Gaal’s novel lies in the fact that Noah, a main character, has schizophrenia. According to one source I read, “multiple meaningful coincidences contribute to the early formation of schizophrenic delusions.”

Noah Friedman is a physicist who takes pleasure in learning as much as he can about physics. Noah is also bipolar and has been taking an experimental drug for over ten years. Noah has trusted his mother, Sally, head of the family’s pharmaceutical firm, and Dr. Roger DeMarko, his psychiatrist who administers the drug. Then Noah gains access to the many, many notes in his file by stealing it from Dr. DeMarko’s office.

What Noah discovers in the files turns Noah’s life inside out. He determines that “two things were clear, and together they couldn’t be reconciled: He needed to stay on his meds. He needed to get off his meds.” Most disturbing of all, Noah discovers he “wasn’t a genius. He was just disordered, damaged, and bolstered by drugs.” This knowledge throws Noah into a whirlwind of uncertainty because he has relied on his being bright to help him cope with his life.

That part of the story reminded me of the short-lived TV show Limitless. In Limitless, Brian Finch, the main character “discovers the power of a mysterious nootropic drug by the name of NZT-48. This drug unlocks the full potential of the human brain and gives its user enhanced mental faculties.”

Synchronicities on the Avenue of the Saints contains much more than Noah and his dilemma. He meets Jean-Paul, an African shaman who becomes Noah’s mentor and helps Noah sort out what to do with the recent information he has discovered in Dr. DeMarko’s files. Noah’s long-time friend Fleck, a journalist, also figures heavily into the story.

Sally, Noah’s mother, is another character—one I am not so sure I like. She is floundering in her own life, but she clearly loves her son, Noah. Sometimes that love appears to be misguided.

How can Noah unbind himself from the drug he has taken for so long? And how will he cope with Dr. DeMarko who stands to make millions off the drug he has been administering to Noah? That puts Noah in danger.

Add to these present-day dilemmas the past steeped in Russian history and myth. Sara, Noah’s great-grandmother, tells Noah a story from her childhood about a stolen ebony chest entrusted to her family to bring to the US and deliver to Pincus Goldberg in NY. Hadassah, a powerful witch in Russia, has delegated this delivery; if it is not carried out, Hadassah says, “I can curse as easily as I can bless. May your life be worthless if you don’t keep your word.” Well, readers, you know that the chest does not get delivered to Goldberg and that the family with the chest reaps the rewards from the contents. As soon as Sara recounts the story to Noah, the first time she has ever told it, she dies. Consider the drama!

Synchronicities on the Avenue of the Saints will provide fodder for an engaged discussion in a book club. Those interested in mental illnesses and their complications both within a person and within a family will find the book compelling. Throughout the story, readers receive glimpses into Noah’s thinking. Those passages show Noah’s flights of fancy and the way his thoughts travel from one idea to another.

On Deborah Gaal’s Website, I discovered these topics for conversation which would be useful to a book club:

“Healing through wisdom, acceptance and ritual

Connecting with ancestors to connect with yourself

Parenting and self-care with bipolar children

Silver linings: how to turn hardship into what drives you

Wisdom focused coping strategies for healing.”

The Book Whisperer Reports on The Dearly Beloved


As I’ve written before in this blog, I belong to several book clubs. Reading books and sharing thoughts about them with others does provide great pleasure. I also find the discussions enlighten me, often causing me to think about a story and its characters in a new way. That is true about The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall.

In truth, I had started reading The Dearly Beloved several months ago, and then I set it aside because it did not grab my attention. In Dec, however, Kelli, at the South BA Library, chose the book for our Beyond the Book’s discussion. I thought to myself that I would give the book another try.

This time, I did finish the book and by the end I felt a little kinder toward the characters. Two couples form the core of the novel: Charles and Lily and James and Nan. The four come together from quite disparate backgrounds when Charles and James become co-pastors at the “historic Third Presbyterian Church” in Greenwich Village in 1963.

Both Charles and James become pastors in a roundabout way since neither expected that shepherding a church and preaching would be their career paths. Charles develops a strong and abiding faith while James, an activist at heart, aims to find ways to do good and perhaps find his way to faith.

Lily and Nan, too, differ markedly. Lily has no faith in God and has no intention of finding that kind of faith despite being married to Charles, a gifted preacher. Lily, orphaned at as a young teen, has struggled to find her place in life, almost always feeling apart from everyone else even though she had strong family support following her parents’ deaths. Nan, on the other hand, is the daughter of a preacher and has spent her life in service to God and has a strong faith.

I found Lily particularly annoying throughout the story. I mostly did not like her and wanted her to get over herself. By the end of the story, she has changed somewhat, and I could like her a little better.

Nan, too often, the goodie-two-shoes of the story, also redeems herself at various times during the story. When Charles falls into a deep depression following his young son’s diagnosis of autism, Nan shakes him out of the depression and helps him return to the pulpit.

James finds his place in building a school for autistic children at the church. At last, his activism fits within the framework of the church.

While my general estimation of The Dearly Beloved did not change much from my first assessment, I don’t regret reading the book. It does provide a basis for a lively discussion among book lovers.

Cara Wall herself grew up in NYC’s Greenwich Village. In fact, she attended the First Presbyterian Church in NYC where there were “two dignified and august co-pastors.” The novel is not a replication of her experience of growing up in the church there, however. She has taken the germ of the idea and developed four characters who grapple with faith and life. Discover more about Wall here:

The Book Whisperer Rediscovers No Reading Allowed


Are you looking for an absolutely delightful picture book to read to a child or grandchild? I’ve got a recommendation for you: No Reading Allowed: The Worst Read-Aloud Book Every by Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter, illustrated by Bryce Gladfelter. It is a hoot!

Illustrator: Bryce Gladfelter

Haldar and Carpenter have created a book to satisfy those who love word play and plays upon words. The book begins with a disclaimer: “You can’t believe everything you hear! Did you know that a single word can have many different meanings, and sometimes words that sound alike can be spelled completely differently? In this book, Ptolemy predicts you’ll find that two sentences may sound exactly the same, but they can mean hilariously different things!”

Then Haldar and Carpenter go on to prove that opening correct and with very funny results. For example, here are two of my favorite sentences for comparison:

“We were all astonished by the fowl feat.” In this case, a duck attempts the high jump.

“We were all astonished by the foul feet.” The picture shows a bull wearing extremely stinky shoes as identified by the expressions on other animals’ faces and by the apparent stink coming off the shoes.

Just so you know the examples above are not alone. Take a look at the two that follow.

“We see the queen’s burrow thanks to our ant hill.” The picture shows an ant hill inside a glass enclosure.

“We see the Queensboro thanks to our Aunt Hill.” This time, the children ride in a convertible with Aunt Hill who is showing them Queensboro.

The illustrations are bright and colorful. I especially like the fact that children of many ethnicities are depicted. That creates extra appeal.

At the end of the book, readers will find a glossary with definitions of words used throughout the book. I am also impressed with the note at the very end: “We’re just having some fun here, but the truth is that our language is always changing. Did you know that hundreds of new words are added to the dictionary each year? Maybe a word that you made up will be next!”

Raj Haldar is also known as rapper Lushlife. He has found a new outlet for his creativity in writing children’s books. The first book, P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever, started as a joke, but it has been well received.

Chris Carpenter has had a varied career as a software developer and now children’s book author.

Bryce Gladfelter enjoys people-watching, creating art and music.

Thank you to Sourcebooks for sending me this copy of No Reading Allowed: The Worst Read-Aloud Book Ever. It is delightful and will make parents, grandparents, and children laugh out loud and find humor in each page over and over again.

The Book Whisperer Finds Solace in Renewing Acquaintances With Characters in Finfarran, Ireland


I frequently seek out books set in libraries or bookstores. When I discovered The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy, I was eager to read it. I found it delightful and enjoyed getting to know the characters and the landscape of Ireland’s Finfarran Peninsula.

When The Transatlantic Book Club became available, I immediately wanted to read it as well because the story continues with more about Finfarran, the Lissbeg Library and characters I had met earlier in The Library at the Edge of the World. The books can easily be read on their own. Still, there is comfort in finding out more about characters and watching them grow as well as learning about new characters being introduced into the story.

One new character in The Transatlantic Book Club is Cassie Fitzgerald. She is young, in her twenties, a hairdresser, and a free spirit. She has grown up in Canada and has come to Ireland to see and get to know Pat, her grandmother, who has been recently widowed.

Years ago, shortly before her marriage to Ger Fitzgerald, Pat spent a summer in Resolve in the US. A number of residents of Finfarran immigrated to Resolve and built lives there. Cassie took her grandmother back to Resolve to visit old friends and Pat’s cousin. Then back on Finfarran again, Cassie takes a part-time job at the local library and another part-time job in a hair salon in the grand hotel that caters to tourists.

As Cassie becomes more and more immersed in the area and more taken by the breathtaking scenery all around her, she finds herself feeling as if she has come home even though she grew up in Canada. To help her grandmother, Cassie suggests a book club with the friends in Resolve and the members will meet via Skype with the Finfarran folk in the Lissbeg Library.

During the pandemic, my book clubs meet via Zoom, so the fact that the two groups set up a transatlantic book club over Skype was particularly interesting to me.

Hayes-McCoy adds a bit of romance to the story, but that is a tangent to the main story of family. The hint at romance also suggests that another story will follow this one, perhaps with Cassie again as a main character.

Felicity Hayes-McCoy,, has created characters that people will recognize from their own lives even if they are Irish and Canadian. The story offers readers a respite from today’s news. Hayes-McCoy is an actress and writer. In addition to her many novels, she has published two memoirs: The House on an Irish Hillside and A Woven Silence: Memory, History, & Remembrance.

The Book Whisperer Is Charmed by a Sequel


Are you looking for a rollicking good read? Do you enjoy snappy banter between characters? Do you also enjoy a bit of intrigue and possibly a bit of government spying? A Royal Affair by Allison Monclair is just the ticket you need then.

Set in 1946 in London, A Royal Affair again features Miss Iris Sparks and Mrs. Gwendolyn Bainbridge, two unlikely friends from very different socioeconomic backgrounds, operate The Right Sort of Marriage Bureau. The two became known in The Right Sort of Man, the debut novel, when Iris and Gwen became involved in solving a murder of a client who had visited their office shortly before being murdered.

Iris and Gwen are finding success with their marriage bureau venture. That they solved a murder and saved an innocent man from the gallows has brought them a great deal of attention, mostly good.

Lady Patience Matheson, Gwen’s cousin, makes two appointments with The Right Sort of Marriage Bureau under the names Letitia Hardiman and Miss Oona Travis because she wants to ensure privacy and have adequate time to explain why she is engaging Iris and Gwen.

Lady Matheson works for the Queen and the Palace has received some potentially damaging information about Prince Philip who may be getting ready to propose to Princess Elizabeth. The potentially damaging information also contains a blackmail threat asking for 5000 pounds to destroy the damaging material.

As Iris and Gwen continue to work on matching clients who come to The Right Sort of Marriage Bureau, they must also look into the claims made by the blackmailer. They need to know who sent the letter and threat and they need to find the possibly damaging letters.

Prince Philip is the son of Alice, Queen Victoria’s great-great-granddaughter. The blackmail letter implies that Alice had an affair with her husband’s brother and that Philip is the result of that affair. Such information if true would make it impossible for Princess Elizabeth to marry Philip. The Royal family has already been through a recent crisis when King Edward abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson.

While the investigation is a bit tricky because of the secrecy, Iris and Gwen stand to gain financially from the arrangement because Patience is willing to pay them for their time and to add expenses to the bill. This windfall will allow The Right Sort of Marriage Bureau to move into more spacious quarters and even hire a full-time secretary.

Naturally, when Iris and Gwen start investigating, they rattle cages that could cause harm to them and others, but they are determined to get to the truth. They are clever and resourceful. Too, Iris relies on her experiences during the war, although most of her exploits during the war are still a secret.

Readers will enjoy this second story featuring Iris and Gwen. While the two come from quite different backgrounds, they offer different strengths to their investigative work and the marriage bureau itself. Through it all, they give readers a truly fun romp.