2008: #65 – The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Lauren Willig)

13821777 Book #65 was The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, the first book in the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig.  The back of the book reads:

Nothing ever goes right for Eloise. The day she wears her new suede boots, it rains. When the subway stops short, she’s the one thrown into some stranger’s lap. And she’s had her share of misfortune in the way of love. So, after deciding that romantic heroes must be a thing of the past, Eloise is ready for a fresh start.

Setting off for England, Eloise is determined to finish her dissertation on two spies, the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. But what she discovers is something historians have missed: the secret history of the Pink Carnation-the most elusive spy of all time. As she works to unmask this obscure spy, Eloise has more and more questions. Like, how did the Pink Carnation save England from Napoleon? What became of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian? And will Eloise Kelly escape her bad luck and find a living, breathing hero of her own?

I adored this.  From Eloise’s spunky confrontation with Colin over the family papers to her weakness for champagne to Amy and Jane’s scheming to the surprise of Miss Gwen to Richard’s family, this book was a jewel. I can’t believe it was out there for three years before I heard of it.  I liked the fast pace and the humor, even during serious situations.  Amy is independent and adventurous and not as smart as she needs to be, and it all adds to her charm.  I wish we had gotten to know Jane a little better, but her story is still to come.

I chose a short passage to share that I thought captured the tone of the story perfectly:

Richard rather fancied the idea of springing out of a brandy barrel, rapier at the ready. “Not the vintage you were expecting, gentlemen?” he would drawl as he leaped out of the cask, brandishing the shining steel of his blade in their astonished faces.  With a thrust to the left, and a stab to the right, he’d fight his way through the room, dueling personally with the man in charge, flipping his sword in an arc across the room.  And then he’d deck the man guarding the gold with a quick uppercut, whirling to fight off the three men who’d jump on him from behind.  He’d kick the first in the stomach, trip the second, and run through the third.  And then he’d make some sort of witty remark.  “Huzzah for the Purple Gentian!” his men would cheer.

If only it ever happened that way.

I guarantee I will be reading this series to its conclusion.

Page count: 426 | Word count: 127,785

2007: Blood Sport (Dick Francis)
2006: Danse Macabre (Laurell K. Hamilton)
2005: Silent Partner (Jonathan Kellerman)

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