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Well it's all tra la la and hey nonny no around here, now that I've read The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, the 13th (and penultimate) book in the Pink Carnation series.

You should know up front that the only beefs I have with this series are: 1. I sometimes have to wait a year or more! for the next title to come out; and 2. For reasons known best to the publisher, they quit issuing books in hardcover with the 12th book, which makes for an inconvenient collection on my shelf, because OF COURSE I KEEP THEM ALL -- I RE-READ THEM, for Turnip's sake!

Speaking of Turnip, which I was just now and also with the "hey nonny no" business, this new book is all about his headstrong younger sister, Sally, whom we met in Turnip's (and Arabella's) book, The Mystery of the Mistletoe, involving Jane Austen, spies, and Christmas puddings. But I digress.

Major kudos to Willig for sneaking in references to The Princess Bride, Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, and more (I didn't take notes, though I noted the references as I read - I shall undoubtedly re-read it quite soon, and figure out what others I've forgotten), and for the inspired addition of a stoat to the book at the behest of Justin Zaremby, according to the author's note.

The modern-day woman who sets the frame for the Regency stuff, Eloise, is back in the States, working on her thesis and teaching students. She misses her British boyfriend, Colin, and that is not all that is off/wrong. Their story was actually pretty adorable in this book, and sets up the final book fairly nicely. Meanwhile, there's the story that gives the book its title, which features Sally Fitzhugh and Lucien, Duke of Belliston.

Sally is in her second Season, and is quite bored with the whole thing and finding life a bit flat. It's set-up is quite similar to that of Sarah Maclean's The Season, a YA title which I loved when it came out in 2009 (and would STILL love to see sequels for!), which is the reason I picked up the Pink Carnation books in the first place (on Sarah's recommendation!). But I sort of digress: Sally goes outside at a ball, notices that there are lights on in the formerly neglected town house of the neighboring noble, and heads on over to investigate, meeting our hero (the aforementioned mysterious noble) while trespassing on his grounds. Perhaps it's a tried-and-true Regency meet-cute, but this is only the second time I recall seeing it in a book. Anyhoo . . .

This book adds a wrinkle to things, and allows Willig to critique the sorts of things that happen in response to popular literature, such as Miss Gwen's The Convent of Orsino (reference throughout the series, but most clearly in The Passion of the Purple Plumeria), which included, among other things, a vampire. You see, there are rumors swirling that the noble, the Duke of Belliston, is, in fact, a vampire. And/or a bloodthirsty madman. And/or the product of a cursed lineage. Sally is fairly certain that he's none of those things, and when someone tries to frame him for murder, she sets out to prove his innocence. As one does. The book is funny and smart and a complete page-turner, as per usual. I raced through it yesterday, start to finish, and am already looking forward to a second reading, and to picking up a couple others of my favorites from this series (as I am wont to do when I remember how very delightful they are).

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 20th, 2014 09:43 pm (UTC)
The book, and series, sounds really interesting. I haven't read any of them. I will have to add them to my list.

It's sad they quit putting the books out in hardcovers. I love my hardback books!
Aug. 22nd, 2014 06:31 pm (UTC)
I really enjoy the entire series, which is a combination of modern romance and Regency romances. There are several that I've read bunches of time, because the couples are so delightful. (My favorite - and I rarely have a favorite anything, so this is saying something - is still The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, in part because of the poetry quoted throughout, and in part because of the hero and heroine (who are, in virtually all the other books, completely unlikeable).
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Aug. 22nd, 2014 06:31 pm (UTC)
Perhaps that should be our new mantra?
Aug. 21st, 2014 03:32 am (UTC)
I am woefully behind in this series. The last one I read was the one set on the trail to India (I believe), which I truly enjoyed. By the time the last one comes out, maybe I'll be caught up and ready ;)
Aug. 22nd, 2014 06:33 pm (UTC)
It's not like you can't catch up (and quickly, if you so choose). I didn't love the India book, although some of the characters have come back, including Colonel Reid (the older gentleman) and, as it turns out, his son Jack (who appears destined to be the Pink Carnation's HEA).
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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