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The Secret History of The Pink Carnation

February 9, 2009

Just finished reading Lauren Willig’s “The Secret History of The Pink Carnation,” the first in the series that includes “The Temptation of the Night Jasmine.”

This first volume actually sets up Eloise the graduate student as a less-clumsy frame for the historical reading. To write her thesis about English spies during the French Revolution and Napoleonic era, such as the Pink Carnation and the Purple Gentian, she’s reading Amy’s journals, and other papers that belong to the Selwick estate, chronicling the spy escapades of the Purple Gentian and Pink Carnation.
Small spitfire Amy is determined to buck propriety and convention, and have adventures at the side of the dashing, romantic spy, the Purple Gentian. And possibly bring down the Consul himself. Nothing goes as Amy plans. There are chaperones to evade, actual danger, and the irritating presence of the mocking yet beguiling Richard Selwick, who may or may not be hiding a Big Masked Secret. (Ya think?)

I’m beginning to suspect that the entire series will make me happy in exactly the same way. It’s the right combination of historical fiction, frothy good humor, adventure, and romance. Only a few surprises here and there. But it’s not about the surprise. It’s about the adventure, and the banter as they get to the rosy-hued ending. (With a fair amount of downright smutty bodice-ripping. Whee!)

The tone stays light, lighthearted, characters you can’t help wanting to laugh with, and love, even while they’re getting into arguments and misunderstandings and peril. Gleeful, even. I laughed, at the outright funny bits, and just certain turns of phrase here and there. Particularly when Richard is looking aggrieved at his mother’s enthusiasm for his spy career. Also, I could tell that Amy’s escapades and naivete were expected to be funny- but I just wanted to hug her, pat her on the head, and bake her cookies.

Yep. Definite fluff. And I might want to get myself copies of these, because I could see these becoming comfort books for a good escapist giggle.

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