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Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream. At least, that's how it feels, when one goes to bed midway through one of Lauren Willig's novels, then wakes up thinking about the characters first-thing in the morning, eager to resume reading as soon as humanly possible.

In The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, Lauren Willig has pulled off an extraordinary feat: She has taken a woman who was established to be a spoiled, somewhat conniving social-climber as her Regency heroine, and paired her with a man who, in two prior books, has shown himself to be a somewhat predatory and amoral rake at best, and a dangerous double-agent at worst - he's too slippery to pin down, really - and she makes me love them both. With a big, hearty love. And that, my friends, is some Very Good Writing.

In this, the fourth novel in the Pink Carnation series, we follow the story of Mary Alsworthy (sister to Letty, the heroine of The Deception of the Emerald Ring). Master spy, the Pink Carnation, has asked Lord Vaughn (rogue, bounder, scoundrel and somewhat pretentious cad) to enlist Mary's assistance in catching the Black Tulip - a French spy first introduced properly in The Masque of the Black Tulip. Vaughn never speaks in simple sentences when double entendres will do, and is a bit of a roué. Mary is, as stated, a social-climbing conniver who finds herself in the awkward position of being a hanger-on in the home of her younger sister, who accidentally eloped with Mary's intended beau; naturally, Letty and Geoff are blissfully happy in their romance, and Mary is, well, in a state of constant mortification.

Mary and Vaughn have a lot in common, as well as a lot of issues to overcome. The plot moves along at a terrific pace, and is extremely interested. Once again, points to me for immediately sorting out the identity of the Black Tulip. I mean, I know I said that in book 2 as well, but I should qualify that I correctly identified the person acting in the capacity of the Black Tulip in that book, and I spotted the correct person in this one as well. I didn't, however, sort out the backstory for the Black Tulip, and was delighted to find it all out.

I was also terribly delighted with Eloise Kelly's story in this one, Eloise being the modern-day researcher who is relating/reading/uncovering the Regency romance portion of the book (which occupies the vast majority of the pages). Eloise finally has her date with the dishy Colin Selwick in this book, as well as interacting with a nefarious archivist. I couldn't be more pleased, I think, than I was with this book.

On the one hand, I'm vexed that my library had the temerity to loan book five, Temptation of the Night Jasmine, to another patron when I want to read it. On the other hand, I'm quite looking forward to re-reading the Crimson Rose, so I suppose it will keep me occupied until such time as the library coughs up the next installment in the series. (Book six is not yet titled, nor do I see a scheduled publication date having been announced.)

Thanks yet again, Tessa Gratton and Sarah MacLean, for steering me towards this series. And Tess, I totally get why this one is your favorite (so far).

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
writerjenn
Apr. 18th, 2009 12:32 am (UTC)
Chuckling at the idea of an "accidental elopement."
"I was just crossing the room, minding my own business, when I fell out the window and right into the arms of a guy who carried me to a church and stuck a ring on my finger!" No?
I imagine the accident was actually that she didn't know he was the other girl's intended, but you know I like to amuse myself.
kellyrfineman
Apr. 18th, 2009 12:56 am (UTC)
Wrong on both counts. In the prior book, Letty rushes out to Geoff's carriage to try to talk him out of eloping with her sister, Mary, only to get chucked into the carriage by Geoff's coachman (Geoff being unavoidably detained). On assisting the cloaked woman out of the coach and kissing her (in front of witnesses), Geoff was startled to find he'd "compromised" Letty, and married her out of duty. Et voilà, accidental elopement.
writerjenn
Apr. 18th, 2009 01:30 am (UTC)
Darned coachman!
Oh, did you ever read Goudge's GREEN DOLPHIN STREET? It had a marriage mix-up that gave me nightmares. The book was supposed to make you think that everything ultimately happened for the best, but I could never shake the feeling that the characters got cheated. Even worse, the author claimed that it was based on a true story!
kellyrfineman
Apr. 18th, 2009 02:08 am (UTC)
Nope - never read it. Never even heard of it. One decidedly doesn't feel that anyone's been cheated in the Willig books, though . . .
tessagratton
Apr. 18th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
Good luck with Night Jasmine! I haven't read it yet, myself.

Partly I'm feeling slightly disgruntled that our Pink Carnation hasn't had her romance yet. I would like it now, pls. :D
kellyrfineman
Apr. 18th, 2009 02:03 pm (UTC)
Since romance has ended the career of every other spy, I rather suspect that she might be last to have one. That said, I'd love to see a beau for Miss Gwen. God I love Miss Gwen.
tessagratton
Apr. 18th, 2009 02:04 pm (UTC)
LOL. I would like to see romance NOT destroy her life as a spy. That's rather old fashioned. ;)
kellyrfineman
Apr. 18th, 2009 02:06 pm (UTC)
I keep thinking she's going to end up with a Frenchman . . . There's been a paucity of foreigners and a surfeit of Englishmen and women thus far.
tessagratton
Apr. 18th, 2009 02:06 pm (UTC)
That could be fun! Whatever she does will be fun no doubt.
kellyrfineman
Apr. 18th, 2009 02:14 pm (UTC)
I am really indebted to you for the book recs, since I am enjoying them so terribly much. (And Night Jasmine is now on hold for me at the library - tra la la!)
tessagratton
Apr. 18th, 2009 02:16 pm (UTC)
I'll thank my mom. She put the first one into my hands a couple years ago, due to my love of The Scarlet Pimpernell. :D Good Mom!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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