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Review: The Seduction of the Crimson Rose (Pink Carnation #4) by Lauren Willig

The Seduction of the Crimson Rose
by Lauren Willig


Fourth book in The Pink Carnation series
After her beau is stolen by her younger sister, Mary Alsworthy is determined to find another suitor. She’s not interested in love – only in landing a rich man who can support her. In order to fund another season in London, Mary agrees to help the Pink Carnation through the English spy’s agent, Lord Vaughn. Mary’s dark hair and fair complexion is the type that attracts the Black Tulip, and it is hoped that she’ll lure him out of hiding before he and Napoleon launch their plot to invade England. Two centuries later, Eloise Kelly continues her research on the Pink Carnation and learns she isn’t the only one seeking the spy’s identity. The curator of the Vaughn archive believes that the key to the mystery lies in the Selwick family papers, and he will stop at nothing to gain access to them.

At this point, I know what to expect from one of these books. Two initially adversarial individuals will meet and fall in love, but will spend much of the story in denial. So when Mary and Lord Vaughn’s initial conversation ends with her flouncing away, I knew they’d be wed by the end of the book. Willig manages to throw some surprises into the plot without throwing off her winning formula.

One of the things I found most entertaining about the story was the perspective flip. In previous books, we’ve seen Vaughn and Mary through an unflattering lense, but when the story is told from their perspective it is characters like Letty, Miles, Henrietta, and Geoffrey who appear to be silly, flighty, or insipid. Vaughn’s cynicism and Mary’s desire to marry for money are far more sympathetic when readers understand their backstories. As morally ambiguous characters, I found them far more interesting than the previous heroes and heroines.

Eloise and the 21st century cast continue to flesh out nicely. Eloise and Colin’s relationship continues to deepen as they get to know each other, but more rewarding is learning the unfortunate events that have rendered Colin’s sister Sabrina so brittle and shy. The rivalry between Eloise and Vaughn collection curator Dempsey made me laugh. Academia can be so cutthroat!

I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned the audiobooks for this series. I read the first three novels in print years ago, but for this round of reviews I’ve been listening to the books and Kate Reading has been an excellent narrator. She does a great job distinguishing characters through pitch and tone and accents, and keeps sillier scenes believable. I highly recommend her.


3 out of 5 stars


To read more about The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.





Peeking into the archives...today in:
2014: Author Talk: Lev Grossman and The Magicians Trilogy
2013: The House of Impossible Loves by Cristina Lopez Barrio
2012: Hetalia Vol. 2 by Hidekaz Himaruya
2011: Elizabeth's Women by Tracy Borman
2010: News: Press “Pause” on the Piranha
2009: The Rapture by Liz Jensen
2008: Tan Lines by J. J. Salem
Tags: ***, 19th century, 2008, 21st century, adventure, chick lit, england, fiction, france, french revolution, historical fiction, london, r2015, romance, spies
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