As participants in Pink For All Seasons, a Lauren Willig read-along, with The Bubblebath Reader, we thought we’d share our thoughts on the first 3 books in the Pink Carnation series. And, if you’re not reading these, you should be – they’re fun, quick reads, and the first one came out in 2005, so your odds of finding them at your local library are pretty good! Holly has been reading them all for the first time (with the exception of #1), while Amanda has been rereading.
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (2005)
Synopsis: Eloise, a modern day Harvard graduate student finds herself engrossed in studying the family papers of the British spy called the Purple Gentian, hoping to discover the identity of his successor, the Pink Carnation. She navigates the story of Amy Balcourt who returns to France with dreams of joining the league of the Purple Gentian, and her relationship with Lord Richard Selwick, who is not exactly what he seems.
Holly: This book is a lot of fun – I reread it, and I remembered enjoying it the first time, and then I dove right into the second one, wondering why I hadn’t done that before. Amy and Richard are hilarious, and, how many books offer both a steamy luv scene on a moonlit boat on the Seine, and an overview of Napoleonic history?
Amanda: I admit it I haven’t reread it this time. I love Amy and Richard though, and Eloise is adorable! Despite my love for this series, this is actually my least favorite Pink book. That sounds worse than I want it to-this is a must read to get sucked into the Pink fun!
The Masque of the Black Tulip (2006)
Synopsis: Eloise continues her research into the Selwick family papers, this time discovering that Lord Richard’s sister Henrietta was involved in trying to catch a French spy – while also catching the attention of her brother’s best friend, Miles.
Holly: I think I started this one the same night I finished #1, and I started #3 right after. And, I started to figure out that while there are connections between the characters across books, each one focuses on a different pair. Also, Richard proves to be a bit of hypocrite here!
Amanda: Hen and Miles might be my favorite couple. I love the spark between them. Its great that this book is set in London so we can really get an idea of the circle that Willig has created and get excited for the stories to come. I had forgotten about Miles and all his mistresses though-that makes him a bit less loveable I have to say. Yes, realistic for the period and all, just gets my feminist 2014 self slightly riled up.
The Deception of the Emerald Ring (2006)
Synopsis: This time, Eloise finds herself researching Viscount Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe, another good friend of Richard and Miles’s, along with his accidental bride Letty. More chasing spies, more last minute getaways, and more Eloise waiting for the phone to ring.
Holly: I actually really liked this story too, even though my synopsis makes it sound like more of the same. Maybe I just read too much Pink back-to-back. However, I did start to get annoyed here with another marriage because someone might be “compromised.” In the first book, Amy and Richard are all but d-o-i-n-g-i-t on a boat, and then here, there’s a little k-i-s-s-i-n-g which immediates necessitates getting married to avoid a scandal. I know Lauren Willig worked on a doctorate in history so maybe British high society really was so uptight, but it comes across a bit heavy-handed. We’ve had three innocent and virtuous young women for whom marriage is the only way to experience intimacy, while the men are allowed to engage in affairs with impunity (going back to books 1 & 2). And I suppose that’s not the author’s projection – that is/was the reality – with the modern-equivalent being that Eloise thinks that Colin is playing games with her so she tries to play right back. I’m looking forward to reading #4, because I don’t think Mary Alsworthy is going to be such an innocent maiden!
Amanda-Yes! Get to reading! #4 is one of my favorites and I think was the book I tried to get for the Pink readalong to begin with. But back to your points, I definitely don’t think Willig is over-exaggerating the risk of being compromised. Not that I’m a Regency scholar, but that’s the impression I have. I had forgotten how poorly our hero and his bride start off in Pink III. I really like Letty and the spunk that she surprises even herself with. I did feel the romance moved a bit too quickly in the end, but at the same time I was totally entertained because this book has one of my favorite villians. Also, I kind of adore Lord Vaughn so I’m always happy read when he’s skulking about. Now I’m even more excited to get the Seduction of the Crimson Rose!
Last-another perk for following the Pink readalong is that Ashley is giving away copies of all the books and other fun prizes. Holly and I have both won so far! Maybe you’ll win next?