In the ninth installment of Lauren Willig's bestselling Pink Carnation series, an atrocious poet teams up with an American widow to prevent Napoleon's invasion of England.
Secret agent Augustus Whittlesby has spent a decade undercover in France, posing as an insufferably bad poet. The French surveillance officers can't bear to read his work closely enough to recognize the information drowned in a sea of verbiage.
New York-born Emma Morris Delagardie is a thorn in Augustus's side. An old school friend of Napoleon's stepdaughter, she came to France with her uncle, the American envoy; eloped with a Frenchman; and has been rattling around the salons of Paris ever since. Widowed for four years, she entertains herself by drinking too much champagne, holding a weekly salon, and loudly critiquing Augustus's poetry.
As Napoleon pursues his plans for the invasion of England, Whittlesby hears of a top-secret device to be demonstrated at a house party at Malmaison. The catch? The only way in is with Emma, who has been asked to write a masque for the weekend's entertainment.
Emma is at a crossroads: Should she return to the States or remain in France? She'll do anything to postpone the decision-even if it means teaming up with that silly poet Whittlesby to write a masque for Bonaparte's house party. But each soon learns that surface appearances are misleading. In this complicated masque within a masque, nothing goes quite as scripted- especially Augustus's feelings for Emma.
Hot on the heels of The Mischief of the Mistletoe (2010), Willig’s engaging spy series continues with an adventure set in Napoleonic France. Fresh out of spy school, Laura Grey has been dubbed the Silver Orchid and sent to France to be a governess to the children of Andre Jaouen, the deputy minister of police. It is up to Laura to discover if Jaouen and the sinister inspector Gaston Delaroche are about to thwart a Royalist plot to put a prince of royal blood back on the throne. Working with the legendary spy known as the Pink Carnation, Laura is surprised to uncover where Jaouen’s loyalties truly lie when a respected artist, Antoine Daubier, is arrested by the dastardly Delaroche. After rescuing Daubier and being forced to flee France with him and the royal heir, Laura and Andre pose as a married couple in a troupe of actors and find themselves battling their powerful feelings for each other. Another delightfully delectable adventure from Willig, who expands her rich, appealing stable of characters with each entry.
Willig spins another sultry spy tale in her fifth installment of the Pink Carnation series. When Robert, duke of Dovedale, returns after more than a decade abroad, Lady Charlotte Lansdowne hopes the romantic world of her novels will soon come to life in the form of a love story between her and Robert. But the duke has come back from India to track Arthur Wrothan, a spy who killed Robert's mentor, and though his and Charlotte's reunion culminates in a blaze of kisses, he abandons her to track down his nemesis. On the trail, Robert cavorts with the Hellfire Club, which holds opium-fueled orgies that provide cover for Wrothan. In the meantime, Charlotte's efforts to help the king throw her again into Robert's path. The story unfolds within the frame of a contemporary love affair between Eloise, a Harvard graduate student researching spies of the late 18th and early 19th century, and Colin Selwick, descendant of one of the spies who so pique Eloise's interest. The author's conflation of historical fact, quirky observations and nicely rendered romances results in an elegant and grandly entertaining book.
Willig switches the setting of her Pink Carnation series from eighteenth-century England to colonial India in the sixth installment, which finds wild Penelope Deveraux married off to Lord Frederick Staines after the two are caught in a compromising position. Though they connect physically, the spirited, witty Penelope and the pompous, hedonistic Freddy have little in common. Freddy’s new position as special envoy to an English ambassador has brought them both to India, where rumors of intrigue involving a French spy known as the Marigold are afoot. Already floundering in her loveless marriage, Penelope sets out to unmask the spy, suspecting that their serious escort, Captain Alex Reid, might be the culprit. But as Penelope grows closer to Alex, her suspicions give way to a deep mutual attraction. Willig brings colonial India to vibrant life through Penelope’s eyes, and the sparks flying between Penelope and Alex generate plenty of heat. By taking the story to India, Willig injects a new energy in her already thriving, thrilling series, and presents the best entry to date.
Harvard Ph.D. candidate Eloise Kelly continues her research of early 19th-century spies in the smart third book of the Pink Carnation series, following the well-received and . This installment focuses on 19-year-old Letty Alsworthy, who, after a comedy of errors, quickly weds Lord Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe, her older sister's intended. Geoffrey, an officer in the League of the Purple Gentian, flees to Ireland the night of his elopement. Unbeknownst to Letty, his plan isn't to abandon her; it's to quash the impending Irish Rebellion. When Letty tracks down her prodigal husband in Dublin, not only does she learn of his secret life as a spy, she's sucked into it with hilarious results. Willig—like Eloise, a Ph.D. candidate in history—draws on her knowledge of the period, filling the fast-paced narrative with mistaken identities, double agents and high stakes espionage. Every few chapters, the reader is brought back to contemporary London, where Eloise gets out of the archives long enough to nurse her continuing crush on Colin Selwick. The Eloise and Colin plot distracts from the main attraction, but the historic action is taut and twisting. Fans of the series will clamor for more.
The fourth installment in Willig’s Pink Carnation series finds beautiful, ambitious Mary Allsworthy still smarting from her sister Letty’s inadvertent theft of her suitor in The Deception of the Emerald Ring (2007). At the suggestion of the Pink Carnation, the imperious Lord Vaughn recruits Mary to help him uncover the identity of the Black Tulip, a French spy who threatens England’s interests. As determined as Mary is to find a husband, Lord Vaughn, a widower, is equally determined not to succumb to her charms, creating a palpable friction between the two. The closer they get to their goal of finding the Black Tulip, the more their adversarial feelings dissolve into attraction, even love, just as a secret from Vaughn’s past threatens to keep them apart forever. In the present, graduate student Eloise Kelly delves deeper into the archival papers to discover the Black Tulip’s identity. Willig’s series gets better with each addition, and her latest is filled with swashbuckling fun, romance, and intrigue.