Book Reviews, Regency Era Book Reviews

The Regency Detective, by David Lassman and Terence James – A Review

The Regency Detective, by David Lassman and Terence James (2013)From the desk of Stephanie Barron:

When the movie can’t help but be much better than the book:

A confession of my own, as I embark on this review: I write a series of mystery novels set in late-Georgian and Regency England, which feature Jane Austen as a detective. As a result, I might be regarded as a partial and prejudiced judge of The Regency Detective, a novel by the British screenwriting duo of David Lassman and Terence James (The History Press, 2013).  The pair are developing their story for British television, an honor I may receive only when hell freezes over, and they firmly state that the project is backed by the Bath City Council, Bath Film Office, Bath Tourism Plus, The Jane Austen Centre, and several other organizations too trivial to name throughout the city. A trifling note of bitterness on my part, or a waspish tone to this review, ought therefore to be acknowledged before being dismissed—because there are any number of authors publishing in this historical subgenre whom I wholeheartedly admire, read, and recommend. I love nothing better than a cracking good historical mystery set in England during Jane Austen’s lifetime. My hesitation to embrace The Regency Detective stems neither from its period, its engaging protagonist, nor its action plot—but from its truly turgid prose.  Having read nearly three hundred and twenty pages of it, I suggest that the movie version MUST be better.

But more about the prose later. Continue reading “The Regency Detective, by David Lassman and Terence James – A Review”

Book Reviews, Regency Era Book Reviews

For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, by Shannon Winslow – A Review

For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, by Shannon Winslow (2012Review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder

Gossip.  It has the power to create larger than life reputations, but also has the ability to destroy said reputations.  Within Jane Austen’s novels we’ve seen just what gossip can do; Mr. Darcy’s reputation and person are vilified by Wickham, John Thorpe gossips about the true size of Catherine Morland’s dowry to a displeased General Tilney, and Captain Wentworth hears gossip that shares the good tidings of Anne Elliot’s non-existent engagement to her cousin William.  It should come as no surprise then that Austen fan fiction writer Shannon Winslow should write an Austen-inspired novel that focuses on just what can happen with gossip!

For Myself Alone takes place in Bath and Hampshire in the 1800’s.  Winslow tells the story of Josephine Walker, the recent recipient of a large inheritance totaling almost twenty-thousand pounds, an unimaginably large sum at the time.  While Josephine is grateful for the inheritance from her Uncle, she also is concerned that people will now view her as a walking pile of money instead of the sweet and caring girl that she normally is.  What’s more, the suitors that come courting her can’t be trusted, and the only man in her life that she feels she can trust is Arthur, who also unfortunately happens to be the betrothed of her best friend, Agnes.  Engaged herself, Josephine begins to lose trust in her own fiancé, Richard, after she overhears a conversation between him and his father.  With all of these events happening to poor Josephine, how will she cope?  Will she be able to find comfort in Arthur despite their inability to be together?  What will she do with all of that money?

When I reviewed Winslow’s first novel The Darcys of Pemberley, I put in my review that Winslow was sure to be around the JAFF world for a while.  For Myself Alone cements that thought in my opinion.  Winslow has a fantastic ability to not only create a story that could be a long lost Austen novel, but to write it with the same wit and vivacity we’d expect from Austen herself.  Told in a completely first person narrative (which may I add is refreshing in this genre) it opened up the doors to allow us into the mind of our heroine.  We know exactly what she is feeling throughout, affording us the opportunity to really connect with her.  I find the more you can connect with your heroine/hero the bigger the enjoyment of the work becomes.

The prologue of the novel did a fabulous job at grabbing my attention and making me eager to learn about Josephine’s story and why she was the sudden target of the local gossips.  While the beginning of the novel moved slightly slowly, events in Bath pick up at heart-racing fast pace that doesn’t stop until the last page!   For those who want a fresh story with a definite Austen flair, For Myself Alone is the way to go.  I’m so glad that Winslow is back with another great work.  I can’t wait to see what she can do in the JAFF world!

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

For Myself Alone: A Jane Austen Inspired Novel, by Shannon Winslow
Heather Ridge Arts (2012)
Trade paperback (262) pages
ISBN: 978-0615619941
Kindle: B007PWINR8
NOOK: 2940014192712

Kimberly Denny-Ryder is the owner/moderator of Reflections of a Book Addict, a book blog dedicated to following her journey of reading 100 books a year, while attempting to keep a life! When not reading, Kim can be found volunteering as the co-chair of a 24hr cancer awareness event, as well as an active member of Quinnipiac University’s alumni association.  When not reading or volunteering, Kim can be found at her full-time job working in vehicle funding. She lives with her husband Todd and two cats, Belle and Sebastian, in Connecticut.

© 2007 – 2012 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

Book Reviews, Regency Era Book Reviews

The Twelfth Enchantment: A Novel, by David Liss – A Review

The Twelfth Enchantment: A Novel, by David Liss (2011)Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict

Historical fiction? Check.  Magic?  Check.  Awesome heroine?  Check.   Lord Byron?!  Check!  Did you ever imagine those four items to be in the same novel together?  I sure didn’t, so I was in for a definite surprise when I started reading The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss.  Set in the early 19th century in a pre-industrial England, Liss weaves a tale of mystery, intrigue, and magic that leaves the reader wanting more, creating a plot that I was increasingly excited to be pulled in to.

Lucy Derrick’s entire life is about to change.  Whilst in her house one evening with her family and her fiancée Mr. Olson, a sudden banging occurs at the door.  A man whom the house’s inhabitants have never met before demands to speak to Lucy and put a stop to her engagement!  After setting eyes on Lucy and speaking a prophecy involving the phrase, “Gather the leaves”, he proceeds to vomit pins, a sure sign of a curse.  Fearful of whom this young man is and what he wants with Lucy, he is brought into the house to await a doctor who declares his condition is due to magic and that he is unable to help him. He can however, recommend someone who may have experience in this field.  A Mary Crawford, (no, unfortunately not that Mary Crawford from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, though we can see her as an enchantress of the magical sort), is beckoned to the house and with her persistence and guidance, she helps Lucy discover her magical roots.  The two work together to find the source of the curse and destroy it.  Lucy is amazed to discover how easy it was for her to learn magic, but is more amazed that Mary is not at all surprised at her skill.  A budding friendship between the two woman begins, and it is through this friendship that Lucy learns more and more about her magic.  She is told of a book, the Mutus Liber, which is said to give its possessor the ability to create the magic of the philosopher’s stone.  She learns that this book is somehow involved in the fighting and picketing going on that is protesting the industrial revolution.  Lucy soon finds herself caught between two worlds as her powers grow stronger.  Will she be able to find and translate the Mutus Liber in time to stop the fighting?  Will she discover the meaning behind the prophecy of “gathering the leaves” in time to do what she must?

While the book was incredibly clever and interesting I found myself getting lost in the politics of the story.  The war between the real world and the magical world had to do with the industrial revolution and how it affected England.  While not understanding the specifics and mechanics of the war was a bit confusing, I did understand the remaining plot lines and was able to still enjoy the book.  I liked how the magic that was discussed in the book wasn’t “hocus pocus” magic.  People didn’t just say spells and make things fly across a room.  It was a more nature based magic, which I found to be an interesting and refreshing change from the more common types of magic we see and read about.

Our heroine Lucy Derrick is one of the most awesome fictional heroines I’ve ever encountered.  She starts out as this weak girl who lets all the people around her demean her and put her life on a path that she isn’t happy with.  With the guidance of Mary she begins to understand the woman she’s meant to be, and let me tell you, she becomes a force to be reckoned with.  The way Liss writes her growth as a character is truly remarkable.  When the book opens you feel the dread she feels about the way her life is going, and by the end of the book you feel the strength and confidence she’s gained.   In the middle of the book you feel her doubt these magical powers she’s learning about, and by the end you can feel her completeness in knowing the full extent of what she can do and what she can learn to do.  Liss did a great job at writing her story so that we as readers can relate to it and really get a sense of Lucy’s plight.  May I also add that her love triangle is an ode, in my eyes, to Elizabeth Bennet’s in Pride and Prejudice?  Being a huge fan of Jane Austen and the English Regency I also enjoyed the inclusion of Lord Byron and William Blake, both famous poets of the time, as supporting characters.

This is one book you need to add to your to-be-read pile.  If you enjoy mysteries, you definitely won’t be disappointed.  The mix of earthy magic and the story behind Lucy finding herself as a magician and a woman, while attempting to solve the prophecy made this a very engaging read.  I can’t wait to check out the other works that Liss has to offer!

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

The Twelfth Enchantment: A Novel, by David Liss
Random House, New York (2011)
Hardcover (416) pages
ISBN: 978-1400068968

© 2007 – 2011 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

Book Reviews, Regency Era Book Reviews

Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal – A Review

Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal (2011)Guest review by Shelley DeWees – The Uprising

“Of his younger daughter, Melody, he had no concerns, for she had a face made for fortune.  His older daughter, Jane, made up for her deficit of beauty with rare taste and talent in the womanly arts.  Her skill with glamour, music, and painting was surpassed by none in their neighborhood and together lent their home the appearance of wealth far beyond their means.  But he knew how fickle young men’s hearts were.”

Presumably, one sister is “milk” and the other is “honey.”  They complement each other, yet stand alone, one with sweetness and flashy, showy pizazz, and the other with banal yet comfortable stability.  Sound like any other story you’ve heard?  Two sisters vying for attentions of the neighborhood menfolk with two completely different approaches: one passionate, erratic and overly capricious, the other steady and mindful and only dimly lit in terms of beauty.  Sound familiar?

It did (and does) to me, too.  Indeed, the similarities to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility are palpable, from the easily-placed characters and their tastes, feelings, and under-developed motivations, to the plot, with a cadre of viable bachelors parading around and only one of them noble in his intentions.  The passionate sister even falls and twists her ankle; the scoundrel is attracted; the sensible sister tries to keep a lid on things.  The difference with Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal’s debut novel, though, is that many of the plot twists carry a strong sinister twinge.  Jealously and bitterness prevail on more than one occasion, bringing rise to an explosive ending as the consequences of deceit, unrequited love and unspoken truths boil over.  Add dueling pistols and you’ve got yourself a Regency-era party!

Add in magic, too.  Kowal weaves a beautiful magic system in Shades of Milk and Honey, its only shortfall being that it wasn’t fully explained or explored to the extent that I craved.  Jane, the Elinor Dashwood of this story, is particularly talented at manipulating “folds of glamour” that are “taken out of the ether.”  She laces them together, twisting and winding and pulling them into gorgeous imagery that is both pleasing and purposeful.  But how the heck is she doing it, Ms. Kowal?  Is there a wand involved?  Are we talkin’ spells or hexes or what?  All the reader ever discerns about this graceful system is that the efforts spent using it are physically draining, so much that the magician can collapse under the strain or even die.  I found myself desperate for more information on this front, and though I could feel an explanation bubbling up from time to time, thinking, “Okay, she’ll finally talk about it now,” it remains a mystery.  Dang.  That would’ve been cool.

The story itself is moderately compelling and kind of…well, charming in its simplicity.  Jane and Melody Ellsworth seek husbands.  Melody uses her strikingly well-formed looks to wrangle her potential suitors, not to mention girlish impulsiveness and her attractive yet overly-fluffed sense of confidence in her appearance.  Jane is much different, only grudgingly allowing her heart to feel a pang of wanting, being surprised when she discovers that she may not have to be a spinster.  Several men waltz through their quiet lives in Dorchester, including the dashing Captain Livingston, the prudent protector of a young sister, Mr. Dunkirk, and a tortured artist as well, Mr. Vincent.  Things play out, hearts are attracted some places and then others, secrets and scandals are uncovered, and both the sisters eventually figure out where their affections belong.  Dinners and dancing and picnics abound, most of them accentuated by the presence of magic and “folds of glamour” working delightful tricks.  The ending is, as previously mentioned, a whirlwind of emotion and heartbreak that leaves all involved parties shaken and changed forever.

The author clearly has a well-honed approach to writing, her prose and structure is lovely and flowing.  I did at times feel the characters were far away, intangible, and a bit of a mystery.  Still other moments found me wishing the story would slow for a bit of fleshing out.  The end almost reads like a fable, with blistering pace, summing up years and years in only a sentence or two.  Yes, the characters are archetypical, the brainiac and the fickle beauty queen battling again, in this unexplained world of magic and mayhem, but I still enjoyed it with a kind of reserved enthusiasm.  Shades of Milk and Honey represents a solid good ‘ol college try on Ms. Kowal’s part, and I look forward to reading more of her work as she matures and blossoms.

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal
Tor Books, New York (2011)
Trade paperback (304) pages
ISBN: 978-0765325600

© 2007 – 2011 Shelley DeWees, Austenprose

Regency Era Book Reviews

The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, by Lauren Willig – A Review

A nineteenth-century exotic locale, a handsome officer and a feisty heroine make for archetypical romantic fare, but Lauren Willig’s new novel The Betrayal of the Blood Lily is anything BUT a conventional bodice ripper embellished with historical detail. In her sixth novel in her “Pink Carnation” series, Willig exhibits once again that she is an accomplished raconteur as she weaves an intricate and lively tale involving spies, espionage and romance during the Napoleonic Wars between Britain and France. Whereas the previous novels have taken place in England and France involving a set of interrelated characters, Willig has taken a bold leap in introducing a new ensemble cast and intriguingly transported the narrative to exotic India. 

Our new heroine Penelope Deveraux, who we met briefly in the previous novel The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, is as bold as brass. Her unpropitious behavior had always set more than a few fans fluttering and tongue’s wagging in London society, but she never thought a little kanoodling would force her into a hasty marriage with the dissipated Lord Frederick Staines. To avert scandal, the couple is quickly packed off to India where Freddy has accepted the position as Governor General Wellesley’s Special Envoy to the Court of Hyderabad. Married life is more than a bit disappointing as Freddy’s diversions tend toward gambling away her dowry and dalliances with the local bibi, the Indian equivalent of a mistress. One would think that Lady Penelope would be at odds in this strange new world far and away from the tempered drawing rooms of England, but she can ride and shoot and talk politics with the best of the big boys. This is more than a bit disconcerting to Captain Alex Reid who is escorting Lord Staines and his adventurous young wife to Hyderabad. She is a willful, flipant and an opinionated aristocrat. He is a disciplined, by-the-book, level headed solider and more than alarmed by her unconventional behavior. Their sharp banter is reminiscent of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler on a bad day. Unfortunately, he frankly does give a damn. Pen is a married woman and her overt flirtation and unguarded behavior is sorely testing his honor. The political situation in India is just as tumultuous as the British and French jockey for control after the end of the Maratha War. In the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad, power and deceit go hand-in-hand fueling rumors of a French flower spy the Marigold. Gold and guns are missing which could turn the axis of power back into French hands. Somehow Penelope is connected to the Marigold and Captain Reid reluctantly accepts her help to uncover a dangerous spy, save British interest in India and thwart Bonaparte. Oh, and along the way, a few buttons get popped. 

As with all of the previous novels in this series, the parallel plot with contemporary scholar Eloise Kelly prompts the historical story as she conducts her own research into the enigmatic British flower spies during the Napoleonic wars. Her investigation into the Selwick family papers has uncovered more than just primary source material for her doctoral thesis. After a tentative beginning Eloise and Colin, the Selwick family scion and possible modern spy, are a steady item. Since Eloise’s love life is on track she decides to match make for Colin’s younger sister Serena. Like Jane Austen’s famous misapplying heroine Emma Woodhouse, she is clueless about what attracts people to one another and why her choices are so wrong. Eloise’s social insecurities and endearingly flawed personality is what makes her both vulnerable and attractive to us, and Colin. Like the brash over confident Lady Penelope Staines, she does not realize yet that her weaknesses are her greatest strengths. Throughout the novel, Willig proves again and again that she is a nonpareil in the delicate art of characterization supplying an array of personalities whose foibles and strengths rival those penned in classic literature. Queen of the poignant adjective, Willig’s witty dialogue sparkles resplendently with humor and delight. I couldn’t have been more content being back in her world.

A superior addition to the “Pink Carnation” series, readers of The Betrayal of the Blood Lily will be as crestfallen as I when they finish the last page and realize that they must wait a whole year for the next book. 

5 out of 5 Regency Stars 

The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, by Lauren Willig
Penguin Group, USA (2010)
Hardcover (401) pages
ISBN: 978-0525951506 

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Regency Era Book Reviews

Ransome’s Honor, by Kaye Dacus – A Review

Ransome's Honor, by Kaye Dacus (2009)Men in blue. Need I say more? 

If Lydia Bennet was condemned as the most determined flirt to make her family ridiculous in Pride and Prejudice for her fixation on any officer in a red coat, then I am as guilty as changed for a Royal Navy man in blue. Besides pictures of my father in his uniform, my earliest memories of a naval hero was of watching Gregory Peck in the 1951 movie Captain Horatio Hornblower on TV as a teenager. *swoon* Extend that memory into a new story of a dashing naval officer set in post Napoleonic war Portsmouth inspired by the author’s love of Jane Austen and Hornblower, and, I fall in, salute attention, take orders, and read Ransome’s Honor

Seventeen year old Julia Witherington will never forgive Lieutenant William Ransome for not proposing to her in 1802 when she and all of Portsmouth society expected it. She is the daughter of a Royal Navy captain who made a fortune in prize-money during the war with France and ready to bestow a thirty-thousand pound dowry on the lucky man to win his trust and her affections. He is a promising young naval officer from humble beginnings who has earned his advancement but little money. Fearing being tagged a fortune-hunter with no title or money, at the last moment his pride and honor will not allow him to propose. Heartbroken and humiliated, Julia leaves England believing he didn’t really love her, having only courted her to cozy up to her father and his Navy connections. 

Twelve years pass and the war with France has ended with Napoleon’s final surrender. Julia returns to Portsmouth still single and the belle of the social season. A beautiful, confident, and accomplished businesswoman, she has spent the last several years running her family sugar plantation in Jamaica. An only child since the loss of her brother at sea, she joins her widowed father Admiral Sir Edward Witherington and her Aunt Lady Pembroke, now acting as her chaperone since her mother’s death the following year. Among those officers and seamen returning to Portsmouth after the war is also one Captain William Ransome, eager for a new assignment for his ship Alexandra and anxious to be land locked for six weeks while she is refitted. Their inventible reunion after so many years is wrought with tension – she still holding on to her resentment – he regretting his decision. When Julia is pressured into an engagement with her ne’er-do-well cousin Sir Drake Pembroke desperate for her fortune to pay off his debts, she enters into a bargain with Captain Ransome for a one year marriage in exchange for her dowry. He is not interested in her money, but is honor bound by his promise to her father his commanding officer, and his own heart to assist her. Will Ransome’s honor prevail and soften Julia’s resolve and rekindle her affections? 

Kaye Dacus has delivered a moving Regency era romance infused with naval lore and engaging characters. Her heroine Julia, intelligent and proud must move beyond her resentment and depend on the one man she vowed never to forgive. Her hero Captain Ransome, well, he had me at the first salute. From Julia’s chatty and energetic friend Susan Yates, to her husband Colin, William’s best friend and fellow officer, we form important impressions of our hero and heroine, discovering their character strengths and flaws. The villains, Sir Drake Pembroke and his mother Lady Augusta slither and scheme dubiously supplying the request evil to thwart the happiness of our protagonists. I smirked and grinned at their wicked doings and rooted for honor and good to prevail in all the right places. Above all, it was refreshing and rewarding to spend a delightful engagement with Captain William Ransome, an honorable and distinguished navy man reminiscent of Jane Austen’s Captain Wentworth, and evoking fond memories of actor Ioan Grufudd’s interpretation of Horatio Hornblower. 

An overall enjoyable read, Dacus’ writing style is very spare and could have benefited from a bit more clarity in the dialogue and more detail in her description of settings and action. The begining of the book moved rather slowly but picked up considerably by the second half. In addition, I was puzzled by the character inconsistency in spirited Julia succumbing to the demands and constrictions of her aunt after her father’s departure to London. The Julia that she had set up to that point would not let others run her over so easily. A sweet romance, this novel is actually classified as Christian fiction, but I did not find the religious vein overly preachy or imposing. A most delightful voyage with the distinguished and dishy Captain Ransome, I am all anticipation for his further adventures in romance, and the sea, when the next installment of the Ransome Trilogy, Ransome’s Crossing makes port next July. Until then I shall feel like a Navy sweetheart patiently waiting for her man to return from the sea! 

4 out of 5 Regency Stars 

Ransome’s Honor, by Kaye Dacus
Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR (2009)
Trade paperback (342) pages
ISBN: 978-0736927536

Regency Era Book Reviews

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, by Lauren Willig – A Review

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, by Lauren Willig (2009)In the fifth installment in her Pink Carnation Series, more Napoleonic espionage ensues as Lauren Willig spins her captivating tale of the exploits of Robert Lansdowne, the reluctant Duke of Dovedail, and his bookish young cousin Charlotte in The Temptation of the Night Jasmine. Set in England in 1803, Robert’s unexpected return to his ducal estate in Sussex after a decade in the Army in India rekindles Lady Charlotte’s idealistic fantasies. Fueled by her passion for romantic novels such as Evelina she is hopeful that Robert, her knight in shining amour, has come to rescue her from her from the embarrassment of three failed London seasons and her grandmother’s succession of unacceptable eligible bachelors. However, Robert’s main objective is not romance, but to track down the spy who murdered his mentor during the Battle of Assaye. Even though their reunion sparks a quick romance, Robert abruptly ends their relationship and departs for London in pursuit of the elusive spy whose signature scent is the heady and seductive night jasmine. Infiltrating the notorious Hells Fire Club, he is witness to opium induced orgies and the dissipation of London society – all in the name of duty and honor, mind you. Meanwhile, Charlotte acting as lady in waiting to Queen is witness to the madness of King George, or is she? With the aid of her friend Lady Henrietta Selwick, they undertake a bit of espionage of their own, uncovering a plot to kidnap the king. Robert and Charlotte must join forces to thwart the scheme, and learn to trust each again before they can catch a spy, and, re-fall in love. 

All of Willig’s stories in this series unfold as a parallel plot prompted by the investigation of contemporary scholar Eloise Kelly as she conducts her own historical research into the enigmatic British flower spies during the Napoleonic wars. The trail of research has led her to Colin Selwick the descendant of the Pink Carnation who holds the family archive, and her affections under his control. Having read all of the previous novels in the Pink Carnation series, I was uncertain if Willig could continue to pump out fresh and engaging stories to match the intrigue, humor, and suspense of her previous four efforts. In addition, the dubious claim in the publisher’s description of the book that “Pride and Prejudice lives on in Lauren Willig’s acclaimed Pink Carnation series” really shot up an eyebrow. Talk about hitching your star onto a bandwagon! This series is not a Jane Austen sequel, though she does amusingly nod at Austen through allusions to her characters and plot lines, especially in this novel in the early chapters with young, naïve and bookish Charlotte Lansdowne. Any reader of Northanger Abbey will immediately see the similarities to Catherine Morland and smile. But the rest of the characters and plotline is entirely Willig’s own skillful imaginings. 

Given my reservations upon reading this new release, I was happy to discover that I cherish it among the best in the series. Willig’s effervescent style in almost tongue-in-cheek in its playfulness. Her strength, however, lies in her rendering of her characters unique and endearing personalities. Like Austen, she chooses an array of foibles and follies in human nature illustrated in her secondary characters to frame her hero and heroine. Charlotte’s grandmother is a great example. 

“The Dowager Duchess of Dovedale, the woman who had launched a thousand ships—as their crews rowed for their lives in the opposite direction.  She inspired horses to rear, jaded roués to blanch beneath their rouge, and young fops to jump out of ballroom windows.  And she enjoyed every moment of it.” 

Even though I thoroughly enjoy her writing style, Willig does have a few weaknesses that I hope will improve with experience. She handles comedy, historical context, and dialogue beautifully, but like Austen’s complaint about her own darling child Pride and Prejudice, her plots lack the deep shade necessary to offset the light, bright, sparkly stuff. Not only would I like to see more romantic tension between her protagonists, a bit more dastardly doings in her villains would please me exceedingly. Just channel a bit of Dickens Lauren, and you will succeed. Furthermore, I enjoyed the historical plot line so much more than the contemporary fumbling of her Bridget Jones clone-ish Eloise, mostly due to the fact that I am just really tired of clueless young woman who are so insecure that a run in their nylons ruins their day. 

Reverently harkening to her predecessors Austen and Heyer, Willig is one talented author who I hope will enjoy a very long career. In addition to The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, the Pink Carnation series included The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, The Masque of the Black Tulip, The Deception of the Emerald Ring and The Seduction of the Crimson Rose. Her next novel in the series is The Betrayal of the Blood Lily is due out in January, 2010. If you are in the mood for a Regency era romantic spy comedy romp, I recommend this book highly. 

4 out of 5 Regency Stars 

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, by Lauren Willig
Dutton Adult, New York (2009)
Hardcover (400) pages
ISBN: 978-0525950967

Visit Lauren Willig’s beautiful website