The Garden Intrigue (Pink Carnation #8)

The Garden IntrigueBy Lauren Willig

Publisher: Dutton Adult
Publication Date: February 16, 2012
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Netgalley

As Napoleon pursues his plans for the invasion of England, English operative Augustus Whittlesby gets wind of a top secret device, to be demonstrated over the course of a house party at Malmaison. The catch? The only way in is to join forces with that annoying American socialite, Emma Morris Delagardie, who has been commissioned to write a masque for the weekend’s entertainment. Even so, it should leave plenty of alone time with Augustus’ colleague (and goddess), Jane Wooliston, who has been tapped to play the heroine. Or so Augustus tells himself. In this complicated masque within a masque, nothing seems to go quite as scripted… especially Emma.

Goodreads Summary

I was introduced to this series by an acquaintance I once knew. We were having one of those conversations you have with someone who you don’t know well, but isn’t quite a stranger and you’re trying to find something in common. Well, books were it for us, and it launched a thirty minute discussion on our favorite books and series. I mentioned that I love historicals but was stuck in a rut, and the next day she brought me books one through four in this series and simply said “you HAVE to read these” and walked away. So, I did.

Reading the Pink Carnation series is like reading two stories in one. One story features Eloise Kelly, the narrator, who is in present day and is in England researching English spies for her dissertation. She has been in England eight months or so, and has stumbled upon a gold mine of information from the personal family papers of Colin Selwick’s family. Even though Eloise and Colin got off to a rocky start, they have since admitted their attraction and are now in a relationship. Only problem: Eloise only has two months left before she has to return to Cambridge. She didn’t count on falling in love when making her plans, and she and Colin are now at a crossroads. Combine relationship drama with Colin’s family drama, it’s no wonder Eloise frequently seeks the safety of her research.

The second story line features the overly flamboyant poet, Augustus Whittlesby. He has been living in France for several years spying for the English as a poet, albeit a dreadful one. He has heard rumors of a super weapon that Napolean plans on using to invade English soil, and in order to gain access to Napolean’s summer castle (where the weapon will be tested), he must pair up with Emma Delgardie to write a masque as entertainment for the party. Emma is a widow, and is very close to Napolean’s wife and her daughter and thinks that Augustus is completely ridiculous. She frequently challenges Augustus’s poetry, and the pair are always in some sort of argument. As they work together on writing the play, Augustus discovers the real Emma beneath the glitter and bright smiles. Emma also realizes that Augustus has a wonderful sense of humor and can truly make her laugh. Augustus knows, however, that if Emma were to truly find out his real occupation, he would lose the woman he’s come to love.

I’ve always been intrigued by the premise of this series and how Lauren Willig flip flops between present day and the history Eloise is researching. I don’t think there’s another series out there like it, and I’ve enjoyed most of the books in the series. As is the case with any series over three books, some are better than others. We’ve seen both Augustus and Emma here and there in the last few books, and I’m happy that they each received their happily ever after. It took ages for the two to come together though. It seemed like this book was focused a bit more on the spying than the romance, which I didn’t feel was the case with any of the other books. Augustus fancied himself in love with another woman, and he had to overcome that before he could focus on Emma.

I think the amount of time it took for them to finally figure it out is really my only complaint. Augustus and Emma were wonderful characters and there were several humorous conversations between the two. There was one point where they were communicating in letters, and I loved the witty banter. Eloise and Colin are pretty much the same as always, and I’m anxious to find out what’s in their future. Will they be able to handle a transatlantic relationship? Will one person give up their lifestyle and move permanently to another place? Or will they have to call it quits? I hope it’s not that last option.

My Summary: Overall, an enjoyable read but not as good as some of the other books in the series. I think my favorite are the first four that my long ago friend let me borrow. I’m excited to continue on in the series, although I have no idea who the next book is centered around. I’m eight books in, I might as well finish it out, right? With Eloise leaving England soon, it almost seemed like the author was giving us an “almost done” feeling. I know it has to end at some point, and I’m definitely on board with wherever Lauren Willig wants to take me.

My Rating: B+

 

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