Monday, December 28, 2009

The Deception of the Emerald Ring by Lauren Willig (audio)

Book Description:
Emerald rings aren't all they're cracked up to be... Eloise Kelly has gotten into quite a bit of trouble since she's been spying on the Pink Carnation and the Black Tulip -- two of the deadliest spies to saunter the streets of nineteenth-century England and France. Not only has she been unearthing secrets that will change the course of history, she's been dallying with Colin Selwick -- great-nephew of Mrs. Selwick-Alderly, the keeper of important hidden documents -- looking for a romantic adventure to call her own. Little does she know there's another fierce heroine running headlong into history... It's 1803 England, and Letty Alsworth awakens in the middle of the night to discover that her sister, Mary, is about to make the very grave mistake of eloping with Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe (second in command of the League of the Purple Gentian). In an attempt to save the family name, Letty tries to break up the midnight assignation -- only to find herself accidentally carried off in her sister's place. The ensuing scandal forces Letty and Geoff into a hasty marriage -- and just as hastily, Geoff disappears on their wedding night, under orders to hurry to Ireland and help the Pink Carnation squash a ring of Irish rebels led by the Black Tulip. Not to be outdone by her husband, Letty steals away on a ship bound for the Emerald Isle, armed and ready to fight for her integrity, and to learn a thing or two about espionage -- never imagining she might learn a few things about love on the way...

Another winner in the Pink Carnation Series, this one is the third in it and I listened to it on audio. Not as good as the first, which I totally loved, but this was amusing and I lliked it better than the 2nd, but then again, I always like forced marriage scenarios, as was the case in this story. Geoff is a lacklustre sort of hero at first, he's not the dashing and daring type. He's quiet and steady and totally won me over by the end. I really liked Letty too. She's practical in most cases and plucky, but manages to get herself in some pretty tight predicaments - such as having to marry the man her sister was going to run away with! Still, Letty soldiers on and does what she must. Her thoughts are pretty funny and I found her endearing - almost the way I'd act if I were in her place!

The book starts out with Letty foiling the attempts of her sister to elope with Geoffrey, who we know from the last book. He's been harboring a tendre for Letty's sister, Mary, for two years. But it all backfires since Letty is in her nightgown when she goes to put a stop to it, and she winds up sharing a smoldering kiss with Geoffrey in his carriage (before he realizes she's not his beloved Mary) and they are seen, and one thing leads to another and they are forced to marry to save Letty's reputation. I couldn't help noticing the obvious homage to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice who have been reincarnated as Letty's parents. Mrs. Alsworth is in near hysterics over the scandal, and then nearly swoons and is ecstatic when it means her daughter will be getting married! Mr. Alsworthy is much calmer and philosophical about it, almost enjoying seeing everyone lose their mind while he sits back and takes it all in, laughing to himself, not really seeming to care much that his daughter is very put out and does not want to get married and that it's all a big mistake! Geoffrey does the right thing by asking for Letty's hand, but he thinks she planned it all and is nothing more than a scheming adventurous! He leaves her soon after they're married to go to Ireland on a mission and they don't even have a wedding night together. Hen and Miles (from the last book) take her under their wing and tell her where he has gone, though she knows nothing about him being a spy or anything for the Pink Carnation. Letty decided to take matters in to her own hands and hightails it off to Ireland to make it up with her new husband and fix things.

Letty runs into a few snags and things don't exactly go her way. Before she knows it, she's reunited with Geoff, though he wants nothing to do with her. Unfortunately, he has no choice in the matter and she must be told all about the Pink Carnation and his involvement. Jane and Miss Gwen are in this book alot and as usual, Miss Gwen, is a hoot and has some of the best lines. I like Jane's stealy grace under fire and mastermind. I can't wait to find out if she ever retires as the Pink Carnation and gets a love interest for herself!

Once again, after Letty is told the big secret about Jane and the legion of the Purple Gentian, she soldiers on and does what she must - this time to prevent an Irish rebellion and to help find the Black Tulip. Added to her woes is Geoff's annoying cousin Jasper, another homage to Pride Prejudice. Jasper is a dead ringer for George Wickham - uniform and all! But, that's where the similarities end between the two books, albeit, both novels take place during Regency times in England and are humorous. There are lots of amusing moments, and I loved the way Letty handled Jasper. Her thoughts on his sideburns were hilarious!

But, one of the things I liked best about this book was the interaction between Letty and Geoff. How they went from disliking one another to falling for one another while working together to foil the Black Tulip. The ending was wonderful, I was so happy for the two of them. I didn't think I'd really like Geoffrey all that much, but I did! What a surprise! He seemed so dull to me in the last book, but as he describes himself to Letty at the end and asks her if she'll still have him, I simply loved him! He's a good man and they make a cute couple together. Their first night together as husband and wife was worth waiting for, and it was romantic and hot, but was lightened up by the oddball setting of where they were (at least they weren't in a carriage, though!)

Meanwhile, the Colin/Eloise plotline is slowly but surely developing, though I was disappointed that they weren't together for much of it. Still, I always laugh out loud at what Eloise is thinking and has to endure - such as a blind date with an American named Jay that her grandmother has set her up with - and then running into Colin on the date! It was pretty funny, and by the end of the book Eloise gets her longed for wish and a date with Colin for dinner - on a Saturday night no less! (We'll see if it actually happens in the next book - with poor Eloise's luck, I'm not holding my breath!)

Kate Reading did a good job with the narration, though I wasn't crazy about her American accent for Eloise, I much prefer her cultured British voice for the historical parts of book. Her voice for Geoff took some getting used to as well, which I did eventually. At first he sounded so snobbish! But, overall, she was fine. The actual story of the Black Tulip and foiling the Irish rebellion was a bit hard to follow, but Miss Gwen, Jane and Lord Vaughn (back again from the last book) improved on it, otherwise it would have been pretty dull. Though, I'm still wondering whose side Vaughn is really on!

I'm eager to listen to the rest of the books on audio now, and another one is coming out in January, The Betrayal of the Blood Lily! So far, I'm really loving this series. It's very clever with the contemporary side of it and then the historical side and it's witty and endearing. Basically, it's just a lot of fun!

Btw, on a totally unrelated note, this is the 100th book I've reviewed for 2009!



Muse in the Fog said...

I agree that this book was better then the 2nd in the series...and it is actually one of my favorites!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Muse, I though Letty was adorable in her own way, and as I said in my review, Geoff was just a regular guy and so humble about it at the end, I really loved that! I liked book two very much, but I didn't have as vested an interest in Hen and Miles as I did with Geoff and Letty. Though Amy and Richard will forever be my favorites!

JennJ said...

Sounds like a great book! And a big congrats on your 100th review that is wonderful hon! YAY!!!!!!!! :)

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Thanks Jenn, and have a great new year!

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