With a light touch and a simple style, British writer Fforde offers a slight but spirited first novel of three English roses who blossom when they strike out on their own--and finally meet the right men. Housecleaning becomes a path to romance in modern London as the lives and futures of three floundering but well-bred young Englishwomen intersect at a sham cleaning agency. Sally Bliss, a beauty and would-be actress, is trapped in a lose-lose relationship with a snooty, demanding journalist named Piers. Harriet Devonshire, an artist by nature and the mother of ten-year-old illegitimate Matthew, ran away from her controlling great-grandparents when they sent Matthew to boarding school and consequently forbade Harriet to have any contact with him. Spunky, determined, independent May Sargent is living aboard The Rose Revived, a former boyfriend's canal boat, but now she's out of money and too proud to borrow from her family. If she can't pay the harbor master soon, she'll lose the only thing she has: her home. All three women show up at ""Slimeball"" Slater's office in response to an advertisement for cleaners; all three are hired on the spot and sign contracts without reading them--a foolish move that leaves them, literally, in the same boat when they realize that Slater's up to no good. Once the women set out on their initial assignments, though, it's not just trouble they're in for--genuine friendship is only the first of many benefits to come. With the help of Hugh Buckfast, an attorney May meets at a dinner party she's forced to cater, Quality Cleaners leads to Cleaning Undertaken, a self-conceived, self-run enterprise; for Sally, Harriet, and especially May, running a business leads to self-sufficiency, well-lit career paths, and lasting love. No complex twists or turns, no surprises, just good, clean (emphasis on the latter), old-fashioned fun.