Continuing a witty series on aristocratic spies in _The Deception of the Emerald Ring_

Aug 13, 2007 (Updated Dec 23, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Well-written, witty, and smart, this should satisfy those who want both romance and mystery.

Cons:The modern day subplot keeps tangling things up.

The Bottom Line: The third installment of the Pink Carnation series is fun for those who miss novels of adventure.

A few years back, I picked up a hardbound book on a remainder table titled The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. It looked rather fluffy and a touch silly, but I was in desperate need of something to read at the time, and went on ahead and purchased it. I was expecting a so-so novel, but what I got was a funny, smart novel that had me laughing as I enjoyed it. Afterwards, I kept my eyes open for any further works by Lauren Willig.

In the third novel of the series, The Deception of the Emerald Ring the game between French and English spies continues. Letty Alsworthy is in London for the Season with the rest of her family, including her beautiful sister Mary, their flitterwit of a mother, and a father who means well, but can't seem to pass a bookstore without picking up a few new volumes. Which means that it's up to Letty to keep the family together, the bills paid, and things running smoothly. Besides, she knows that a suitor will not look at her twice, especially if Mary is in the room. But Letty is wise enough to know that if her sister goes through the elopement that she's planning, it's going to simply ruin the rest of the family. So, in the middle of the night in nothing more than her nightgown and a cloak she tries to find Lord Pinchingdale to tell him that it simply can't happen.

When the carriage that is bringing her to Lord Pinchingdale stops, she suddenly finds herself in the very passionate embrace of the viscount, who seems not to mind at all that she's isn't Mary. Worst still, two of Pinchingdale's friends are there, witnesses to the entire escapade, and Letty and Pinchingdale find themselves wed to each other, with neither of them happy about it at all. In fact, the groom is so unhappy that he leaves in the middle of the wedding celebrations, and a humiliated Letty decides to follow him -- off to the scarcely calm land of Ireland, where a revolt supported by the French is looming.

And suddenly, Letty finds herself in the middle of conspiracies, meetings in dark dank churches, sinister men in black, and all sorts of aliases and plots, all with the mysterious Pink Carnation at the center of it. Will poor Letty manage to keep her wits around her, and solve the awful dilemna of her marriage to Pinchingdale, who seems to loathe her on sight?

I have to say that this installment of Lauren Willig's of her series is rather exciting. For one, the action is shifted rather quickly from London to a place that isn't used very often for the Napoleonic wars -- Ireland. This really kept my interest, as I had no idea that the French were happily formetting revolution there, and seeking to use the country as a staging point for a possible invasion of England instead of just going across the Channel.

Nor does Willig forget the modern day story of Eloise Kelly and Colin Selwick. Eloise's scholarly researching into the Pink Carnation gives some amusement, not to mention her meddling grandmother's attempts to get her married off. It does get annoying in spots, as it does break up the story of Letty and Pinchingdale at the worst possible moments, and it does get predictable.

With those caveats in mind, it's still a fairly good story, and Willig's prose and mannerisms fit in nicely with the writing style of the Regency novel. Too, it's clear that she's paying homage to Baroness Orczy's novels of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Lastly, it's the fact that she can do research and isn't afraid to put in new elements into the ongoing story, and that I can always applaud.

Winding up, this gets a good four stars in all. If you like a smart, witty historical novel with plenty of slyness and a few laughs, this series would fit the bill nicely.


The Pink Carnation series:
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
The Masque of the Black Tulip
The Deception of the Emerald Ring  -- you are here
The Seduction of the Crimson Rose
Ivy and Intrigue: A Very Selwick CXhristmas
The Temptation of Night Jasmine
The Betrayal of the Blood Lily
The Mischief of the Mistletoe: A Pink Carnation Christmas
The Orchid Affair

The Garden Intrigue -- forthcoming, due February 2012

The Deception of the Emerald Ring
Lauren Willig
2006; Dutton, PenguinBooksUSA
ISBN 0-525-94977-1

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