All good things must come to end. And so it seems must my favorite historical romance series, The Pink Carnation—offering us its twelfth and final installment, The Lure of the Moonflower. *deep sigh*
For eleven novels author Lauren Willig has enchanted us with Napoleonic spies, romance and laughter. It has been an amazing ride while it lasted. Now with one last fling ahead of me, I started to read (and listen to the audio edition) this new novel. Pushing aside my deep lament, I came to the realization that I am a sappy sentimentalist. Honestly, how could I not be? I had been duly “Pinked”.
It is very fitting that this final book in the series focuses on Miss Jane Wooliston – the Pink Carnation herself, the infamous English spy who gave “the French Ministry of Police headaches” and “who had caused Bonaparte to gnash his molars into early extraction…” Let’s hope I have teeth by the end of the book.
It is 1807 and Napoleon’s army has invaded Portugal. At the urging of the British government, the Royal family has fled, sailing away to their colony in Brazil. Working as a British spy Jane is in Lisbon, the capital of a country that she is not familiar with nor does she speak the language. Her local contact is Jack Reid, aka the Moonflower, a rogue operative whose notorious turncoat antics are as fluid as the tide. The natural son of Scotsman Colonel William Reid and an Indian Princess, Reid is unaware of his connection to Jane through the marriage of her fellow spy Miss Gwendolyn Meadows to his father. She must convince Reid to assist her in discovering the whereabouts of Mad Queen Maria who has been sequestered away by loyalists. The French are looking for her too in the hopes of using her influence to manipulate their cause. Besides the touchy family connection, Jane’s paring with Jack Reid is more than a bit awkward. He does not believe she is the Pink Carnation. She is very leery of his true loyalty. Continue reading
OMG. I feel like a giddy schoolgirl. Look what arrived on my doorstep today. An advanced reading copy of The Mischief of the Mistletoe, by Lauren Willig! *major goosebumps*
I have been a fervent fan of Ms. Willig’s Pink Carnation series since the day it landed on the new release table in my B&N store in 2005. If you have not had the pleasure of reading any of the novels in the series just think Scarlet Pimpernel meets Georgette Heyer with a dash of Jane Austen thrown in and you’ll get my drift. They are romantic comedies set during the Napoleonic Wars laced with espionage, intrigue and wit. Of all the contemporary historical novelists, Lauren Willig is a nonpareil in my book. Like Georgette Heyer her historical details are spot on, her plots imaginatively engaging, her heroines admirable and heroes swoon-worthy. It does not get much better than this.
The Mischief of the Mistletoe is due to release on October 28th so you’ll have to be patient a bit longer. Janeites will be thrilled to discover that Lauren has drawn her inspiration for her heroine, Arabella Dempsey, from Jane Austen’s personal correspondence and her unfinished novel The Watsons. Austen even makes a cameo appearance! Here is the publisher’s description:
‘Tis the season to get Pink! Lauren Willig’s beloved Pink Carnation series gets into the holiday spirit with this irresistible Regency Christmas caper.
Arabella Dempsey’s dear friend Jane Austen warned her against teaching. But Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies seems the perfect place for Arabella to claim her independence while keeping an eye on her younger sisters nearby. Just before Christmas, she accepts a position at the quiet girls’ school in Bath, expecting to face nothing more exciting than conducting the annual Christmas recital. She hardly imagines coming face to face with French aristocrats and international spies…
Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh – often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation – has blundered into danger before. But when he blunders into Miss Arabella Dempsey, it never occurs to him that she might be trouble. When Turnip and Arabella stumble upon a beautifully wrapped Christmas pudding with a cryptic message written in French, “Meet me at Farley Castle,” the unlikely vehicle for intrigue launches the pair on a Yuletide adventure that ranges from the Austen’s modest drawing room to the awe-inspiring estate of the Dukes of Dovedale, where the Dowager Duchess is hosting the most anticipated event of the year: an elaborate twelve-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? Is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella’s and Turnip’s hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding?
The Mischief of the Mistletoe: A Pink Carnation Christmas, by Lauren Willig
Dutton Adult (October 28, 2010)
Hardcover (352) pages