Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig

Book Description:
The Pink Carnation, history's most elusive spy and England's only hope for preventing a Napoleonic invasion, returns in Lauren Willig's dazzling imaginative new historical romance. The Masque of the Black Tulip opens with the murder of a courier from the London War Office, his confidential dispatch for the Pink Carnation stolen. Meanwhile, the Black Tulip, France's deadliest spy, is in England with instructions to track down and kill the Pink Carnation. Only Henrietta Uppington and Miles Dorrington know where the Pink Carnation is stationed. Using a secret code book, Henrietta has deciphered a message detailing the threat of the Black Tulip. Meanwhile, the War Office has enlisted Miles to track down the notorious French spy before he (or she) can finish the deadly mission. But what Henrietta and Miles don't know is that while they are trying to find the Black Tulip (and possibly falling in love), the Black Tulip is watching them.

I really enjoyed this 2nd book in the Pink Carnation series, though I was not as crazy about it as the first.

This is the story of Miles and Henrietta. Henrietta is Richard Selwick's sister (from the last book) and she is aiding her friend, Jane, in France who is the Pink Carnation. Henrietta likes to think of herself as a spy, but she's really just a young Regency socialite that's looking for some fun and excitement in addition to the many balls and teas that she attends, most of the time with her brother's best friend, Miles.

Now Miles came across as sort of a big blundering puppy dog in the last book, so it was hard for me to cotton up to him as our hero in this one, but I noticed he appears much more handsome and heroic in this book, with the body of Michealangelo's David and height that even puts off The Scarlet Pimpernel! Blonde hair that tends to flop into his eyes, he is a good man and much more clever than he lets on, though he does have a tendency of doing some stupid like things undercover, but for the most part we like him and hope he and Henrietta open their eyes and realize they're meant for each other. I liked this pair, Hen reminded me of a Julia Quinn heroine, but Miles could have been a bit more dashing for my taste, but he's not bad at all, really, I just still have a soft spot for Richard, the Purple Gentian from Book 1.

There were many amusing bits in this book, a mystery of who the Black Tulip is (I guessed it) though I was a bit confused over the ending and who was Vaughn's real wife.

Meanwhile, there is still the ongoing contemporary story of Eloise and the maddening Colin Selwick. In this book, they're down at his country estate and she gets her hands on the letters of Henrietta and Miles and Jane. Things are starting to heat up between Colin and Eloise, but as usual, just when they're about to kiss - uggh, her cell phone goes off - ouch! I cringed and died for her - the moment was lost - but that doesn't mean there won't be many more! I love this part of the story too and find the storyline appealing and very funny - reminds me so much of Bridget Jones.

I recommend this fun series. If you like humor, intrigue, Regency, a little sex and a dash of contemporary in the storyline, this series will fit you like a glove! I found the secret code meaning at the beginning of each chapter especially clever! I'm eager for the next in this series, which I'll be listening to on audiobook.


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