eBook Shorts

Titles in this series

A Laborer in the Vineyard of Love

ISBN: 9780593686317
Publisher: Penguin Random House eBook original
Publication Date: 19 September 2023

For fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s many beloved series and romantic standalone novels, The Perfect Passion Company e-original series shows him at his most perceptive, playful, and generous. A Laborer in the Vineyard of Love is the second episode in this series of shorts.

Katie Donald is learning the ropes at the Perfect Passion Company, which provides help to the lovelorn citizens of Edinburgh. Katie is assisted in her matchmaking endeavors by William Kidd, a talented knitwear designer in the office next door with a sympathetic ear, a playful interest in the business of matchmaking and a long-distance fiancée in his native Melbourne.
George Fane, a thirtysomething hotelier tied to his family business and an overbearing mother, arrives one day asking for Katie’s assistance in finding a romantic partner—and a little distance from his mother to boot. As Katie searches for the right match for George, she discovers there is more than one way of looking at the Fane family’s story and that the work of the Perfect Passion Company may have to be a little broader in its scope than she had previously thought.
Meanwhile, the Perfect Passion Company’s original owner, Katie’s cousin Ness, is away in Canada surrounded by pristine forest in a small lakeside town full of intriguing neighbours. As Ness did before her, Katie must learn the principles of romantic chemistry with the very simpatico William at her side. This is the job after all—bringing great happiness to people. And as she labors, she just might discover something about her own compatibility and future happiness.
Alexander McCall Smith’s second volume in the Perfect Passion Company series, A Laborer in the Vineyard of Love, casts new light on the psychology of family relationships, the desire for friendship and romance, and the thrill of possibility when two people meet at just the right time in life.

The Perfect Passion Company, first instalment: Cook for Me

ISBN: 9780593686058
Publisher: PenguinRandomHouse
Publication Date: 14 February 2023

The Perfect Passion Company is a novel written in installments, published as three individual e-Book shorts in the first instance and then gathered into print publication in 2024. Available now as an instant purchase.


‘Be careful… dates don’t always work out’
In an antidote to online dating, Alexander has created the fictional world of The Perfect Passion Company, a matchmaking agency for those who prefer to turn their backs on the depressing agony of misleading photographs and the action of swipe left, swipe right. This is an agency that offers hope, a personal approach and more than a little fun!
Set in an attractive mews office in a quiet lane in the New Town of Edinburgh, the agency is about to change hands. Katie is destined to take over from her aunt. Fresh ideas will stir things up (with a little help from William who works next door) and bring interesting results.

Katie Donald’s aunt Ness announces that she’s heading to Canada for a late-in-life gap year, asking Katie to take over management of her matchmaking bureau in her absence. Katie, who is always ready for a new challenge, enthusiastically accepts the offer, taking charge of The Perfect Passion Dating Company at No. 24 Mouse Lane in Edinburgh’s New Town. Although Katie has little in the way of direct experience, with the help of her amiable and handsome office neighbour William Kidd, she soon finds herself making matches for the lonely hearts tired of meeting online – and who want a more personal touch.

In Cook for Me, Katie’s first client is a retired airline pilot named David who is looking to settle down. As Katie questions him about his previous relationships, it becomes clear David is keen on finding a partner who enjoys cooking – in particular, one who would enjoy cooking for him. Their first and most logical stop is a cooking school, thinking that this might be the perfect place to find a woman with a natural joy for cooking. Soon enough, an introduction is made that will undoubtedly lead to the fulfilment of David’s desire . . . but not exactly in the way he was expecting. With an innate instinct for bringing people together, Katie learns quickly on the job, developing a skill for finding out what it is that people really want. Along the way, Katie learns profound lessons about her own desires as she works at better understanding others.

For fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s many beloved series and romantic standalone novels, ‘The Perfect Passion Company’ series shows him at his most perceptive, playful, and generous. In the way that only McCall Smith can, these tales offer a glimpse inside the psychology of matchmaking, the search for love and companionship, and the mysterious spark of attraction that can, at times, catch hold of us all.

The Private Passion Company 1: Cook for Me (e-Book publication March 2023) – A Vintage Short
The Private Passion Company 2: A Labourer in the Vineyard of Love – A Vintage Short
The Private Passion Company 3: The Sound of Silence – A Vintage Short


‘This might be my favorite offering from Alexander McCall-Smith, which is quite a compliment given he’s my favorite author and I’ve read near,y all of his books! The character development is perfect and being a fly on the wall listening to their conversations is a treat. Highly recommended!’
Amazon verified review - FIVE STARS (USA)
‘Our author does it again! Amusing delightful and above all true and kind. Can’t wait for more! Highly recommended. Bravo!’
Amazon verified review - FIVE STARS (UK)
‘A sympathetic story touching on areas of the human heart that we can all relate to. It is set in his native Edinburgh and has a little bit of the modern and old-fashioned within the story line to make for a fresh take on an age old dilemma; finding your true love’
Amazon verified review - FIVE STARS (Australia)
‘In “Cook for Me,” [Alexander] touches the vulnerability of intimacy, love, needs and wants, truth and the tales we sometimes tell ourselves instead of truth. He blends a character’s past and present so believably, it’s like being with an old friend… each one crafted with its own vocabulary of feelings, thoughts, beliefs… not just words…the author is whetting my appetite for what’s yet to savor, devour, enjoy. I’ll be coming back for the next course, to be sure! Loved it’
Amazon verified review - FIVE STARS (USA)
‘Clever, funny and warm, a truly delightful read. Left me itching to know these two new characters better. Such insight into hunan nature. McCall Smith at his best, knows us better than we know ourselves’
Amazon verified review - FIVE STARS (UK)
‘Let’s hope that this book will be the harbinger of a whole new series, by the name of “The Perfect Passion Company.” Very clever and personally touches the lives of any person of any age’
Amazon verified review - FIVE STARS (USA)

The Strange Case of the Moderate Extremists (eBook Original)

ISBN: 9781984898524
Publisher: Vintage Books (Penguin Random House)
Publication Date: 26 February 2019

The Perils of Morning Coffee (eBook original)

ISBN: 9780307907516
Publisher: Pantheon (Penguin Random House)
Publication Date: first published 25 October 2011 by Pantheon (Penguin Random House)

Summer in Edinburgh is a season of delicate sunshine and showers, picnics with loved ones in blossoming gardens and genteel celebrations of art and music. But Isabel Dalhousie’s peaceful idyll is broken when a single meeting over coffee with fellow philosopher Dr George McLeod brings an irate phone call from his wife, Roz, who implacably accuses Isabel of conducting an affair with her husband.

Wounded by the injustice of Roz’s wild allegation and concerned both for her standing among the gossipy group of her scholarly peers and for Roz’s apparent state of hysteria, Isabel is minded to discover more about the McLeods and set the record straight. She turns to Millie, an old acquaintance and a university colleague of George’s, for insight. Once again Isabel is reminded to avoid jumping to hasty conclusions about the lives of others, and to value friendship wherever it’s found.


“Genial … wise … Glows like a rare jewel”
Entertainment Weekly
“Skillfully written … Smith’s Scotland … is a place where a profound, humane intelligence is at work”
New York Daily News

At the Reunion Buffet (eBook Original)

ISBN: 9781101970461
Publisher: Vintage Books (Penguin Random House)
Publication Date: first published 26 May 2015 by Vintage Books (Penguin Random House)

In this warm, intelligently observed novella, Isabel Dalhousie, Alexander McCall Smith’s wonderful heroine, learns valuable lessons about inviting the past (and everyone in it) back into your life.

Isabel Dalhousie—philosopher, mother and friend—has generously agreed to host the opening dinner for her school reunion weekend. Twenty-five former classmates will descend upon her home, bringing with them new names, new looks, and old reputations. While some will see the reunion as an opportunity to forge new friendships and reaffirm old ones, others aren’t interested in changing their minds about the past. One particular classmate, Barbara Grant, was known as an especially mean girl who bullied the others relentlessly. As hostess, Isabel feels compelled to help her guests on the path toward reconciliation and forgiveness, but bitter feelings and long-held secrets threaten to derail her efforts entirely. With her trademark insight and compassion, Isabel Dalhousie may find a way to navigate these treacherous waters.

Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine (eBook Original)

ISBN: 9780525431916
Publisher: Vintage Books (Penguin Random House)
Publication Date: first published on 31 May 2016 by Vintage Books (Penguin Random House)

Philosopher and amateur sleuth Isabel Dalhousie has an unstinting commitment to her principles. Sticking to her promises has always been one of them. Then Isabel runs into an old classmate facing marital and financial troubles, who reveals a secret that becomes more and more difficult for Isabel to keep.

Thankfully, Isabel’s devoted husband, Jamie, is there to help our heroine navigate her competing moral obligations. Beautifully perceptive and witty, this original short story by Alexander McCall Smith shows Isabel calling upon all of her intelligence, charm, and tact.