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Once upon a time I went on a bit of a tear reading (and, if truth be told, re-reading) the books in the series that begins with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. I remain especially fond of books 3 & 4 (The Deception of the Emerald Ring and The Seduction of the Crimson Rose - especially Crimson Rose since I love how she takes an anti-hero and anti-heroine and makes them the main characters, and I love them). Anyhoo. I got to the fifth book, The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, and was . . . disappointed. Didn't love the historical romance, not all that much happened with the contemporary romance either.

But Willig is back on her game with her latest release, The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, which was released in January. In fact, I read it the same day it came out in stores, and just now recalled that I ought to talk about it.

In Blood Lily, we follow Penelope and her ne'er-do-well of a husband, Freddy Staines, to India, whence they've been sent to allow the scandal surrounding their hastily patched-up marriage (after Penelope was "compromised" during a country house party) to die down. Upon her arrival in India, Penelope meets the delicious Captain Alex Reid, who is to escort her and Freddy to their intended destination in Hyderabad. Intellectually and morally Freddy's superior in every way, it is easy to fall for the good captain, who has an understanding of and appreciation for Indian culture that Freddy and his cronies lack.

This one has phenomenal chemistry, a very interesting setting/set-up, and returns us to a feistier heroine than Charlotte was (in Night Jasmine). Penelope is an expert rider, a crack shot, and is bold enough to dive in the river to save someone while her worthless husband stands about. Her unhappiness in her marriage develops in an understandable way and her willingness to pursue other options with Alex makes sense as well.

Although not, strictly speaking, a Pink Carnation book, since that particular spy doesn't appear in the text, it is wonderful to follow Pen's story. The contemporary romance between Eloise and Colin was actually quite satisfying for me in this volume, apart from Willig's almost compulsion to repeat (at least two to three times more than required) that Eloise is still wondering whether Colin is actually writing a spy novel or is, in fact, a spy. Seriously. Trust the reader. You said it last book, and once was enough in this book. We didn't need it in nearly every contemporary chapter. But I digress.

Definitely a return to form. And now I'm wondering who the next hero or heroine will be, since it seems that all of the characters we've been introduced to thus far have been paired off, except for Turnip Fitzhugh. Oh - and looking at the author's site, it would appear that Book 7, The Mischief of the Mistletoe, is indeed going to be Turnip's book - and that Jane Austen will be making an appearance as a character. My squeeish anticipation for October 28th has now begun in earnest!

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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 7th, 2010 12:14 am (UTC)
I completely agree with all of the above -- I really like Pen. She's so feisty and not at all annoying/boring (as I found Charlotte to be). And I loved Alex...all in all, this is one of my favs of the series -- um, along with the other four, hehe :)
Mar. 7th, 2010 12:45 am (UTC)
On the one hand, my TBR pile is crazy. On the other, I'm thinking of re-reading Crimson Rose, which is crazier, but quite likely. Maybe I'll allow myself to read it if I read something else first. Yeah. That's the ticket.
Mar. 7th, 2010 01:58 am (UTC)
I have been purposely holding off on reading this until I really need a pick-me-up (and to ease the wait until the next one comes out), but I think my willpower is disintegrating. I may have to break down and buy the darn thing sooner rather than later.

I definitely think it's the prettiest cover of the lot :).
Mar. 7th, 2010 02:43 am (UTC)
I'm sure you need a pick-me-up. Right? Right.

I kinda like the cover to the first book best - I love that long pink dress. The next cover looks very dramatic!
Mar. 7th, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)
I did enjoy The Secret History of the Pink Carnation - and I thank you for that. I will have to forage deeper into the series I think, based on your passion for these books.
Mar. 7th, 2010 02:24 pm (UTC)
They are not exactly heavy lifting, which is probably part of their attraction.
Mar. 8th, 2010 09:28 am (UTC)
I'd nevr heard of these books before, after reading this they're certainly going on my reading list : )
Mar. 8th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
They are highly entertaining, in my opinion. Regency England, French spies, romance . . . what's not to like?
Mar. 8th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
The first one is already winging it's way to me, or so the despatch e-mail tells me : )
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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