Giveaway Winner Announced for The Lure of the Moonflower

The Lure of the Moonflower, by Lauren Willig (2015)It’s time to announce the winner of the giveaway of one paperback copy of The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig. The lucky winner drawn at random is:

Lilyane Soltz, who left a comment on August 5, 2015.

Congratulations Lilyane! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by August 19, 2015 or you will forfeit your prize! Mail shipment to US addresses only.

Thanks to all who left comments, and to author Lauren Willig for the excerpt and her publisher NAL (Penguin Random House) for the giveaway.

Cover image courtesy of NAL © 2015, excerpt Lauren Willig © 2015,

The Lure of the Moonflower: A Pink Carnation Novel, by Lauren Willig – Excerpt & Giveaway

The Lure of the Moonflower, by Lauren Willig (2015)It is release day for one of my favorite Regency-era series: The Pink Carnation, by Lauren Willig. Her latest and last installment is The Lure of the Moonflower. As you all gasp in shock over my last statement—yes—it is the last book in the series, now totaling 12 novels.

This week, we are honored to be among a group of select bloggers celebrating the release of The Lure of the Moonflower. Here is an excerpt and a chance at a giveaway of the novel. Details are listed at the bottom of the post. Just leave a comment to qualify.


In the final Pink Carnation novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, Napoleon has occupied Lisbon, and Jane Wooliston, aka the Pink Carnation, teams up with a rogue agent to protect the escaped Queen of Portugal.

Portugal, December 1807. Jack Reid, the British agent known as the Moonflower (formerly the French agent known as the Moonflower), has been stationed in Portugal and is awaiting his new contact. He does not expect to be paired with a woman—especially not the legendary Pink Carnation.

All of Portugal believes that the royal family departed for Brazil just before the French troops marched into Lisbon. Only the English government knows that mad seventy-three-year-old Queen Maria was spirited away by a group of loyalists determined to rally a resistance. But as the French garrison scours the countryside, it’s only a matter of time before she’s found and taken.

It’s up to Jane to find her first and ensure her safety. But she has no knowledge of Portugal or the language. Though she is loath to admit it, she needs the Moonflower. Operating alone has taught her to respect her own limitations. But she knows better than to show weakness around the Moonflower—an agent with a reputation for brilliance, a tendency toward insubordination, and a history of going rogue.

Continue reading

Preview of The Garden Intrigue, by Lauren Willig & Giveaway

The Garden Intrigue (Pink Carnation No 9), by Lauren Willig (2012)Regular readers of Austenprose will know that I am a huge fan of author Lauren Willig novels.  I absolutely adore her bestselling Pink Carnation series set during the Napoleonic Wars, filled with spies, humor and romance.

I was thrilled beyond words when Lauren agreed to write a short story for my upcoming Austenesque anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It. Her story “A Night at Northanger” was inspired by Jane Austen’s Gothic parody Northanger Abbey. In the spirit of Austen’s poke at the “horrid” Gothic fiction so popular in her day, Lauren has given us a modern-day comedy set in one of England’s most haunted homes, Northanger Abbey, where heroine Cate Cartwright meets a very familiar specter. Because Lauren had so much fun with Cate in “A Night at Northanger” she included her as a side character in her next novel in the Pink Carnation series, The Garden Intrigue. Due to be released on February 16, 2012, here is a short description from the publisher:

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.

A Grand Giveaway!

It is hard to decide if I appreciate Lauren’s historical detail, witty dialogue or her swoon worthy romantic characters best, but the combination is always one of my favorite books of the year.

You can be one of the first to read The Garden Intrigue months before it goes on sale! Even before ME! Lauren has generously offered two advance reading copies to Austenprose readers in a giveaway contest. Just leave a comment stating what aspects of Lauren’s Pink Carnation series you enjoy most, or if you are a new reader to the series (shocking) what intrigues you about reading The Garden Intrigue, by midnight PT Wednesday, October 5, 2011. Winners to be announce on Thursday, October 6, 2011. Shipment internationally. Yep, that’s right. Global shipment! Good luck!

Thanks again to Lauren Willig for her generosity in giving Austenprose readers this great chance to win a copy The Garden Intrigue. I can’t wait to read it!

The Garden Intrigue (Pink Carnation No 9), by Lauren Willig
Dutton (2012)
Hardcover (400) pages
ISBN: 978-0525952541

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Chatting with Lauren Willig, Author of The Betrayal of the Blood Lily: and a Glorious Giveaway

Gentle Readers: Please join me in welcoming author Lauren Willig today as she answers questions about her new book The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, Jane Austen and what’s next in her writing career.

Thanks for chatting with us Lauren! Your latest novel in the Pink Carnation series The Betrayal of the Blood Lily has just been released. This is your sixth venture into the Regency era and espionage during the Napoleonic Wars. Looking back on your first book in the series, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, could you share your original inspiration and what continues to spark your storylines?

Thanks so much for having me here!  The Pink Carnation emerged from years of overexposure to dashing swashbucklers in knee breeches, usually played by Errol Flynn—the sorts of men who could hold the villain at bay with a rapier with one hand while writing sonnets to the heroine with the other, all without missing an iamb.  The more specific inspiration was Baroness Orczy’s demmed, elusive Pimpernel, that masked crusader known for whisking aristocrats from the very teeth of the guillotine.  There was just one problem.  The Pimpernel had it way too easy.  His men did as he ordered; the French were, well, French; and when he swung through a window on a rope, he always landed on his feet.  What if, I thought, one were to take that classic paradigm and complicate it?  The possibilities for slapstick—um, I mean, adventure— were endless….

Six years later, I’m still having fun playing with the conventions of the classic adventure story.  The Napoleonic Wars, during which my books are set, are a rich resource for plots.  So far, my characters have given English lessons to Napoleon’s stepdaughter, participated in an actual 1803 rebellion in Ireland, been eyewitness to the 1804 madness of King George, and narrowly escaped danger in the Maratha Wars in India.  I learn something new every time I sit down to write a book.  On top of that, another of the joys of writing a series is getting to play with a broad spectrum of characters and characterizations.

And, of course, the knee breeches.

Your new heroine Lady Penelope Staines is brash, opinionated, and quite stubborn, all qualities that make for great conflict with hero Captain Alex Reid. Their sharp dialogue is priceless! What other similarly strong heroines and heroes do you admire in fiction?

Thanks so much!  The Betrayal of the Blood Lily was written in part in tribute to M.M. Kaye, one of my favorite historical novelists.  Kaye wrote three massive epics, two set in India and one in Zanzibar, all featuring a variety of strong-willed heroes and heroines.  Alex, the hero of Blood Lily, is, in many ways, a composite of Ashton Pelham-Martyn and Alex Randall, the heroes of The Far Pavilions and Shadow of the Moon, both men of honor with serious issues with the Anglo-Indian establishment.  My heroine, Penelope, owes a great deal to the hero of Kaye’s Zanzibar book, Trade Wind; like Penelope, Rory Frost is a black sheep, scornful of conventions, wary of emotional attachments.  Other inspirations included Dorothy Sayers’ Peter Wimsey novels (I re-read the whole series while writing Blood Lily).  Penelope has a little bit of Harriet Vane in her, too.

Blood Lily is set in exotic India in the early 1800s. Your historical references are fascinating. What was your research process and can you share a favorite resource?

I generally start out with an immersion period.  Months before I start writing, I pile up everything I can find on a topic and read my way through it: memoirs, biographies, monographs.  Since India in 1804 was such a new area for me, in the case of Blood Lily, I read everything from contemporary travel journals to military histories.

The most notable influence on my story was William Dalrymple’s White Moguls, a detailed monograph chronicling the drama surrounding the secret marriage of the Resident of Hyderabad, James Kirkpatrick, to a Hyderabadi lady of quality.  It was bristling with the sort of characters one can’t even begin to make up: the mad young ruler, Sikunder Jah, who entertained himself by strangling his concubines with silk handkerchiefs; the courtesan, Mah Laqa Bai, who was considered one of the foremost poets of her day, and so renowned for her wisdom that she was awarded a seat on the ruler’s council of advisors; Mir Alam, a Machiavellian prime minister, once buddy buddy with Wellesley, but now slowly rotting away with leprosy and intent on revenge; and, of course, the English resident (basically ambassador), James Kirkpatrick, who had “gone native”, secretly contracting a marriage with a Hyderabadi noblewoman, a fact that pleased neither the Hyderabadi court nor Lord Wellesley, who launched an extremely detailed investigation into the love affair.  All of them play large roles in the book.

Each of the novels in the Pink Carnation series has subtle allusions to Jane Austen’s characters or plots. You obviously admire her writing. Which is your favorite Austen novel and character?  How has she influenced your writing career?

Despite the fact that my college nickname was “Emma” (for my matchmaking tendencies), I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Northanger Abbey.  Catherine’s youthful attempt to interpret the world around her through the lens of the novels she reads was all too familiar to me.  Note to self: sometimes fiction is fiction for a reason.  I also adore Austen’s sharp-witted send up of the snobberies and ambitions of contemporary society.  She skewers both the Thorpes and General Tilney brilliantly, while creating a perfectly lovable hero in Henry.

As for how she influenced my writing career, I always come back to Austen whenever I get stuck in my own writing.  Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice are favorite re-reads for me.  (I’ll confess that I’m also a huge fan of the mid-90’s movie adaptation of Persuasion.  That bit where Wentworth helps Anne into the carriage….  Mmm.)

Recently, Austen played a much more direct role in my writing life.  My next book, The Mischief of the Mistletoe, is directly inspired by Austen’s unfinished novel, The Watsons—and Austen herself features as a character!

Will we see additional books in the Pink Carnation series? If so, can you share anything with readers about your next novel?

With any luck, there’ll be many more novels in the Pink Carnation series.  I’ll keep writing them as long as you keep reading them!  I’m ridiculously excited about the next book in the series, The Mischief of the Mistletoe, which features the lovable bumbler, Mr. Turnip Fitzhugh, with guest appearances by Jane Austen and a great deal of Christmas pudding.

Here’s the blurb for the novel, hot off the presses:

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 Austens’ 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 12-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? And is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella and Turnip’s hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding?

If you could plan a tea with Jane Austen, who else would you include in your soiree?

If it was to be a literary soiree, I would invite Samuel Richardson and Fanny Burney.  Both were a great influence on Austen and I’d be very curious to see what she had to say to them—not to mention that I’ve always been a fan of Burney’s Evelina.  For sheer humor value, I would invite the Prince Regent, of whom Austen deeply disapproved.  Would she be able to mock him without his noticing?  I’d like to see her try.

Thank you so much for having me here at Austenprose, Laurel Ann!  As a thank you, I’d like to share with your readers my favorite out-take from my Austen book, The Mischief of the Mistletoe.

This was the original preface of The Mischief of the Mistletoe, a faux scholarly introduction to an equally faux collection of Austen’s letters. However, some concern was voiced that it might not be recognizable as faux on a quick glance, sowing confusion and nasty letters from Austen scholars, so the Preface was dropped….

From the Introduction to the Oxford Addendum to the Cambridge Companion of the Collected Letters of Jane Austen:

“… the Dempsey Collection, as it is called, was for some time denied a place in the Austenian epistolary canon. Due to the destruction of the bulk of Austen’s correspondence after her death, for some time there were believed to be only one hundred and sixty letters extent. The discovery of a cache of correspondence, preserved in an old trunk in an attic in Norfolk, underneath a series of shockingly gaudy waistcoats embroidered in a carnation print, tucked inside an early nineteenth-century recipe book concerned entirely with Christmas puddings, was thought for some time by the Fellows of the Royal College of Austen Studies to be nothing more than a malicious act of sabotage on the part of unscrupulous members of the rival Dickens Society, who had turned to thuggery as the inevitable result of immoderate consumption of late Victorian serial fiction. Although the Dickens Society denied the charge, relations between the two groups remained frosty, culminating in the great Tea Incident of 1983, which scandalized Oxbridge and caused a rift whose reverberations are felt to this day. As footnote clashed against footnote, and members of warring factions refused to pass the port at High Table, the Dempsey Collection was relegated for some time to the academic abyss, discarded as nothing more than Austenian Apocrypha.

“After two decades of painstaking scrutiny, including chemical testing, textual analysis, and the consultation of several Magic 8 balls, the scholarly community has tentatively accepted the Dempsey collection as genuine, with some significant reservations. Although the dates of the letters and the identity of the author have, indeed, been authenticated, there are serious doubts as to the veracity of the contents. While Jane Austen writes in her own name, addressing the letters to a supposedly “real” young lady of her acquaintance, the events narrated within them are of such a sensational and fantastical nature as to defy all belief.

“The more serious members of the academic establishment adhere to the theory that Austen was, in fact, engaged in an epistolary novel, a style she employed for both the unfinished Lady Susan and the original draft of Elinor and Marianne, the novel that was to become Sense and Sensibility. There is some argument that the letters comprise a failed early draft of her incomplete novel, The Watsons. As in that work, the Dempsey collection features a heroine returned to the unaffectionate bosom of her family after being disappointed in her hopes of an inheritance from a wealthy aunt, who casts her from the household upon the elderly aunt’s imprudent second marriage to a handsome young captain in the army. Many of the names Austen uses in the Watsons appear in the Dempsey collection, although somewhat altered.

“There, however, all resemblance ends….

“That the letters and their contents were, in fact, the product of a contemporary correspondence conducted with an actual acquaintance in reaction to authentic events is a possibility entertained only by the most radical fringe of Austen scholars. This view is generally discredited…

“What Englishman, one may ask, would answer to the name of Turnip?”

Excerpt reproduced courtesy of the author, Perpetua Fotherington-Smythe, M. Phil., D. Phil, R. Phil, F.R.C.A.S.*, S.o.S.A.S.S.I..**, GAE (MEOAE).***

* Fellow of the Royal College of Austen Studies
** Symposium of the Society of Austen and Similarly Superior Interlocutors
*** Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the Austenian Epistle

Thank you, Lauren, for joining us. Your next novel The Mischief of the Mistletoe sounds intriguing. Turnip Fitzhugh was one of my favorite minor characters and so worthy of a full novel. I can’t wait to read it!


Enter a chance to win one of five copies of The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig by leaving a comment stating who your favorite Regency-era author is and which of their characters would make a great spy by midnight PST March 09th, 2010. Winners will be announced on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010. Good luck!

Cover image courtesy of Dutton © 2010; text Lauren Willig & Laurel Ann Nattress © 2010,