09 August 2011

The Masque of the Black Tulip

Summary: Modern-day graduate student Eloise achieved the academic coup of the century when she unmasked one of history's greatest spies, the Pink Carnation, who saved England from Napoleon. But now she has a million questions about the Carnation's deadly French nemesis, the Black Tulip. And she's pretty sure that her handsome on-again, off-again crush, Colin Selwick, has the answers somewhere in his archives. When she finally comes across an old codebook, Eloise discovers something jucier than she ever imagined: an unlikely pair who were hot on the trail of the Black Tulip and had every intention of stopping him from killing the Pink Carnation and bringing down England. But what they didn't know was that while they were trying to find the Tulip - and stumbling upon something like love - the Black Tulip was watching them... (Source: Book Cover)

Comments: This is the second in the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig and continues closely on the heels of the first book in the timeline of both the contemporary story and that of the Napoleonic era. Again the duel stories are both interesting and lively - one thing in particular that I like is that the contemporary story is told in first person, while the story of the spies et al is in third person. It's refreshing and creates some tension in each story when the change occurs.
This is largely the story of Lady Henrietta Selwick (younger sister of the Richard, Purple Gentian in the first book) and her friendship with Jane Wolliston. It's hard to say more than that w/out spoiling the first book, so ...
I love to read books in order and don't want to ruin that for anyone, 
so if you read below this point - there be spoilers ahead - you've been warned.

Jane Wolliston is the Pink Carnation, a unassuming girl that no one seems to notice, but who, with her formidable friend Miss Gwen, have slowly created havoc in the French government. Jane communicates via code to Henrietta and she passes the information off to the home office via Miles Dorrington, the dashing best friend of her brother Richard (ie. the Purple Gentian). One of my favorite characters, and thankfully, he will be in future books, is Lord Vaughn. He's a mysterious one and slightly devious and who knows who's side he's one,
but I like him. The phrase "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" comes to mind.
I also find the story of Eloise and Colin very intriguing, possibly the result of training as an (art) historian as well. I understand the hunt involved in doing research - that in fact was always my favorite part. What could I find that no one else had quite found. Might also
explain my enjoyment of mysteries as a genre in general. Either way, onward and upward. Up next The Deception of the Emerald Ring.

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