The Passion of the Purple Plumeria by Lauren Willig

Title: The Passion of the Purple Plumeria
Author: Lauren Willig
Length: 434 pages
Published in: 2013
Genre: historical fiction/romance/mystery
ISBN: 9780451414724
Source: borrowed from library
Reason for Reading: This is the 10th book in a series I’ve been reading since its conception.
Rating: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

Colonel William Reid has returned home from India to retire near his children, who are safely stowed in an academy in Bath. Upon his return to the Isles, however, he finds that one of his daughters has vanished, along with one of her classmates.

Having served as second-in-command to the Pink Carnation, one of England’s most intrepid spies, it would be impossible for Gwendolyn Meadows to give up the intrigue of Paris for a quiet life in the English countryside—especially when she’s just overheard news of an alliance forming between Napoleon and an Ottoman Sultan. But, when the Pink Carnation’s little sister goes missing from her English boarding school, Gwen reluctantly returns home to investigate the girl’s disappearance.

Thrown together by circumstance, Gwen and William must cooperate to track down the young ladies before others with nefarious intent get their hands on them. But Gwen’s partnership with quick-tongued, roguish William may prove to be even more of an adventure for her than finding the lost girls…

My Thoughts: I found this installment to be quite similar to pretty much all nine of the previous Pink Carnation books. Given that much doesn’t change in the way of the major points in the stories from one book to the next–there’s always the girl, who eventually falls for a guy and ends up with him–I’m kind of at a loss for words as to why I still even enjoy the series. I think it probably has to be more because I enjoy novels set in a distant land and a distant time. I mean, I like all of Jane Austen’s books, too, and they all pretty much have the same plot, even if the problems that arise are different. I’m sure that at some point I will become bored with the series, at least if nothing changes–I know we all like happy endings, but maybe an ending where the heroine and her gallant gentleman DON’T end up together would be just enough to entice me. (As the books are set in the Regency era, it’s obviously quite scandalous when sexual things come into play, and maybe that’s why they always end up together–shocking enough a “lady” in 1805 could even consider being impure out of wedlock, but even moreso if they didn’t end up married!!)

One thing I quite enjoyed happened within the first few pages of the book, in which the author made a reference to one of my favorite films, The Princess Bride. She referred to a person long ago being similar to a “Napoleonic-era Dread Pirate Roberts”. The movie has been a favorite of mine for over 15 years now, so I find it funny that, as it randomly has gained more popularity in the last couple of years, references to it pop up willy nilly.

Blast from the Past: Deception of the Emerald Ring

The Deception of the Emerald Ring by Lauren Willig
February 23-27, 2007–387 pages–fiction (England, Ireland) /mystery/adventure/history/chick-lit
★★★★★

I loved this! I love how Willig can take the same basic plot and use new characters and circumstances to make each of her novels different enough to stay away from redundancy but keep it so you can see why it’s a series! This novel was the most amusing because of all the events happening between Letty and everyone else. I like how the Black Tulip was still in this because it made it more exciting. This was the novel about Letty trying to stop her older sister from eloping with Geoff Pichingdale which “pushes” him to marry her (Letty) instead. They crack me up for fighting all the time, but I definitely liked when they realized their feelings had changed. I can’t wait for the fourth novel to come out!

“Patience is only a virtue when there’s something worth waiting for.” Letty p132

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Blast from the Past is a weekly post I write that focuses on a book I read long before I ever had a blog about books. While I didn’t “book blog” until a couple of years ago, I’ve kept a reading journal of sorts for about 6 years. Blast from the Past is essentially just my way of digitalizing my old book journals–and reminding me what I thought of books long since read. I think it will be a fun way to look at how my reading selections have changed and what I like most in the books I read.

Blast from the Past: The Masque of the Black Tulip

The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig
1/4-18/2007–425 pages–fiction/mystery/adventure/history/chick-lit
Bought December 14, 2006 from Walden’s
★★★★★

December 5, 2007 (thru Ch. 8)—Okay, I wanna make a prediction for who the Black Tulip is. Well, kind of. Lord Vaughn is an obvious suspect because of his servant/enemy’s death and he comes back to London around the same time the BT comes. Too obvious to be him. Then there’s the Marquise de Montval, the one @ Almack’s trying to seduce Miles, as another obvious choice. She’s decked out in black and Willig even describes her as “exotic as a tulip in a field of primroses.” But I think it’s too obvious to be her too. I feel they’re working for the BT, esp. after the letter Jane finds saying for BT to get Miles (the Marquise) and Henrietta (Lord Vaughn) by any methods. I think they’re just in the league of the BT, neither actually him.

Okay, so after about a week of not reading I read the last half in about 5 hours. I was wrong thinking the Black Tulip wasn’t the Marquise, but I was right thinking it wasn’t Vaughn. The way Henrietta and Miles ended up together, practically eloping, did surprise me. The romance was quick and to the point, unlike Richard’s and Amy’s but I would’ve been bored if it was the exact same. (I didn’t like the chapters with Eloise and Colin at all in this book, probably because they haven’t got together and I think they should.) I think it’s a good thing Willig chose different characters to follow in this book because, while I like Amy and Richard, the redundant characters wouldn’t have done good for the book. I do like how the Marquise was stupid and thought Turnip Fitzhugh was the PC. How wrong she was.

PS- Gonna take a break before reading Willig’s 3rd in the series. Can have too much of a good thing, like with Austen.

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Blast from the Past is a weekly post I write that focuses on a book I read long before I ever had a blog about books. While I didn’t “book blog” until a couple of years ago, I’ve kept a reading journal of sorts for about 6 years. Blast from the Past is essentially just my way of digitalizing my old book journals–and reminding me what I thought of books long since read. I think it will be a fun way to look at how my reading selections have changed and what I like most in the books I read.

Blast from the Past: Secret History of the Pink Carnation

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
1/1/2007-1/3/2007–428 pages–fiction/mystery/adventure/chick-lit/history
Bought from Waldenbooks, December 26, 2006
★★★★★

Well, I’m still reading this and I’ll probably finish it later. But I just wanted to sort of predict who I think is the Pink Carnation. Of course, my first thought was that it’s Amy when Lord Richard finally lets her join the league. But then I thought, maybe it’s Miss Gwen. I don’t really know why I think it could be her, but she is a spinster lady and Richard keeps mentioning how spies really need to be single. Plus, I just read the part when Amy finally figured out that Richard was the Purple Gentian. Miss Gwen had known for awhile I guess, and even Jane figured it out first. But maybe Miss Gwen didn’t figure it out but rather knew it all along. I’m really not sure who the Pink Carnation is, but I’m growing more curious by the page.

I just finished the book about five minutes ago and I love it! It’s not really well written like some books I’ve read, but it was light and entertaining and God knows we all need a book like that once in awhile. I really did love the plot and everything. I was sort of right about my predictions as to who the Pink Carnation was because Amy and Miss Gwen both did start the league of the PC even if it was Jane who ended up keeping the title and pursuing the dream. I can’t believe Eloise thought the PC would be a man. I definitely thought it was a woman the whole time. It think the author should’ve written it all set back in 1803 England/France rather than have Eloise with a frumpy/unrealistic (in my mind) idea for a dissertation. It would’ve been better without those present day parts, but I still love the book. On to the sequel…

“Infatuation is not even a poor cousin of love.” (p264)

“To the male mind, female plus bedroom equals just one thing.” (p269)

“You don’t think she lived happily ever after?
That’s an ending for books, not for people.
What are books about, if not people?” (p289)

“Mother, would you stop flirting with Father for a moment and listen?
“I never stop flirting with your father. That’s why we have such a happy marriage. And I hope that all of you find spouses with home you can happily flirt for the rest of your lives.” (p318)

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Blast from the Past is a weekly post I write that focuses on a book I read long before I ever had a blog about books. While I didn’t “book blog” until a couple of years ago, I’ve kept a reading journal of sorts for about 6 years. Blast from the Past is essentially just my way of digitalizing my old book journals–and reminding me what I thought of books long since read. I think it will be a fun way to look at how my reading selections have changed and what I like most in the books I read.

The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig

Title: The Garden Intrigue
Author: Lauren Willig
Length: 388 pages
Published in: 2012
Genre: historical fiction/romance
ISBN: 9780525952541
Source: 
personal collection
Reason for Reading: 
Copyright 2012 Resolution
Rating: 3/5

Summary (from book jacket):

Secret agent Augustus Whittlesby has spent a decade undercover in France, posing as an insufferably bad poet. The French surveillance officers can’t bear to read his work closely enough to recognize the information drowned in a sea of verbiage.

New York-born Emma Morris Delagardie is a thorn in Augustus’s side. An old school friend of Napoleon’s stepdaughter, she came to France with her uncle, the American envoy; eloped with a Frenchman; and has been rattling around the salons of Paris ever since. Widowed for four years, she entertains herself by drinking too much champagne, holding a weekly salon, and loudly critiquing Augustus’s poetry.

As Napoleon pursues his plans for the invasion of England, Whittlesby hears of a top-secret device to be demonstrated at a house party at Malmaison. The catch? The only way in is with Emma, who has been asked to write a masque for the weekend’s entertainment.

Emma is at a crossroads: Should she return to the States or remain in France? She’ll do anything to postpone the decision-even if it means teaming up with that silly poet Whittlesby to write a masque for Bonaparte’s house party. But each soon learns that surface appearances are misleading. In this complicated masque within a masque, nothing goes quite as scripted- especially Augustus’s feelings for Emma.

My Thoughts: Seeing as neither Emma or Augustus really feature–or are even mentioned–in the previous books, I was mostly uninterested. In the first book there were Amy and Richard. Then next came Henrietta, Richard’s sister, and Miles, Richard’s best friend. Then came Letty and Geoffrey, who works with Richard. But the further along the series goes, the less association there is between characters. Now there is hardly a series, but rather a collection of standalone novels that always have the same plot. That plot being fairy simple–girl and guy who have no interest in each other in the beginning of the story are, by the end, madly in love. I’m all for happy endings, but I feel like after the 9th book in a series, you can’t just change names, dates, and places and have a very interesting story.

But recently Willig has published a book that has nothing to do with the Pink series, Two L, and is currently writing another, The Ashford Affair. So I think I may have to branch out from the Pink books so I don’t begin to dislike the author because of the repetitive plot.

Copyright 2012 Resolution

Ivy and Intrigue–A Very Selwick Christmas by Lauren Willig

TitleIvy and Intrigue–A Very Selwick Christmas
Author: Lauren Willig
Genre: fiction, chick lit
ISBN: 9781466213098
Length: 106 pages
Published: 2011
Source: personal collection
Rating: 4/5
Challenges/Resolutions: Personal Collection Resolution 2012

Reason for Reading: Willig self-published this novella, which supposedly takes place after the first book of the Pink Carnation series. But, because of character marriages–there is basically a marriage per book–I can tell you that it actually happens after the second book, The Masque of the Black Tulip. I read it because it is part of a series I love, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Summary (I’m writing this myself and I’ve never been good at summarizing without spoiling, so I apologize in advance):
It’s Christmas at Uppington Hall, historic seat of the Marquess of Uppington, aka Richard Selwick’s mother. Amy and Richard are newlyweds and still learning about one another. Richard feels Amy wishes she’d had more than a few months of espionage experience in France prior to their marriage–and he’s right. But as soon as he offers to let Amy go across the Channel by herself to live the life of a spy, she changes her mind. She’d rather be with him, not spying, than to be away from him, spying. On the side, Richard’s first love, Dierdre, is at Uppington with her mother for the Christmas festivities. Both Amy and Richard are uncomfortable with Dierdre there, but it just so happens they would not have found out she was in league with French spies.

My Thoughts: I liked this book, which was essentially a shorter version of a regular Pink Carnation novel. The quality of the book was not the best, as it was self-published–there were probably ten missing words throughout the book. But I don’t think that detracted from the quality of the story. There was less excitement in the historic parts of the book because it was so short and there wasn’t really a whole lot of gallivanting around, hunting down foreign spies. Similarly, there was less depth to the story because of its quick pace. These two things are the reason I gave it a 4/5 instead of a 5/5–probably a little harsh, since I compared it to a full length novel. But, on the other hand, I don’t think I would’ve found it all that interesting if I’d not read any of the Pink Carnation books.

more Pink Carnation cover art :o/

This is the cover of Lauren Willig’s next installment of the Pink Carnation series, The Garden Intrigue, due out in February. The past installment had a cover similar to this one, which was a great leap from the first seven books. I have to say that I’m pleased with the new cover, as much as can be possible considering how much I liked the first trend of cover art. But this time around I realize I don’t exactly care for the way the title is presented. The first books were titled thusly: The Secret History OF the Pink Carnation, The Masque OF the Black Tulip, you get it (the “Something OF the Something”). But the last book was The Orchid Affair and this is The Garden Intrigue. But I much prefer The Affair of the Orchid or The Intrigue of the Garden. Regardless of cover or title, I’m sure the book will be excellent. It only looks a little romance novel-y 🙂

Here are a few links to my posts about the previous cover(s) of this series and my feelings about them:

COULD NOT BE HAPPIER!!

petition for cover change?

i am very unhappy about this cover :o(

The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig :o)

Title: The Orchid Affair
Author: Lauren Willig
Genre: historical fiction (romance and espionage abound, too 🙂 )
ISBN: 9780525951995
Length:
403 pages
Published
: January 20, 2011
Source: personal collection
Rating: 5/5
Challenges/Resolutions: Personal Collection Resolution; Published in 2011 Resolution

Summary:

Laura Grey has had enough of governessing. After sixteen grim years spend schooling the children of England’s elite aristocracy, Laura sheds her domestic shackles and heads to the Selwick spy school, expecting an exciting new world of elaborate disguises and thrilling exploits. With the code name “the Solver Orchid,” Laura sets off for France in service of the master spy known as the Pink Carnation. There’s just one hitch. The Pink Carnation wants her to infiltrate the household of Andre jaouen, right-hand man to Bonaparte’s minister of police–as a governess.

Andre Jaouen has enough on his plate with rumors of a Royalist rising sweeping Paris, causing intrigue, unrest, and a lot of overtime at his office in the Prefecture. The arrival of his children, formerly tucked away in safety in Nantes with their grandfather, gauses a whole new level of complication, especially with his sinister colleague, Gaston Delaroche, who is determined to one-up him in whatever way he can–even if it means threats to those Andre holds dear. Hiring a governess is meant to be the solution to the problem, and Laura, with her references as impeccable as her drab gray dress, seems like the perfect candidate. But from her first day in his household, Andre finds he’s hired far more than he’s bargained for…

With political intrigue and sinister plots swirling around them, can Andre and Laura uncover the secrets of state–and of their own hearts–before it’s too late?

My Thoughts: This book is  different from the first 6 books in the series. Laura Grey/Laure Griscogne is a governess who got bored. She joined the spy school run by Selwick and is on her first assignment under the direction of the Pink Carnation. The difference in this book is that Laura is a completely new and random character, at least to my recollection. She’s never been mentioned or alluded to by any of our other heroes and heroines (probably because she doesn’t hail from that aristocratic social circle. It’s odd having a heroine that is actually trained as a spy, because usually the heroines sort of fall into the situation. It’s odd being set in Paris from the get-go and not in England at all in the book (they usually start and/or end there, with Betrayal of the Blood Lily being the exception–but that’s set in British India). It’s odd that no other characters from past books–except the Pink Carnation and Richard Selwick in very small doses–are in this one.

Despite all those oddities, I LOVED this book. In spite of or possibly even because of these differences, the book was amazing. In fact I think that, because of the lack of connection to the rest of the series, this book would be an excellent stand-alone novel. Now, the “present” chapters with Eloise and Colin would have to be taken out and the Pink Carnation and the Purple Gentian would need a tiny bit of explanation. I wouldn’t necessarily want this book to be a stand-alone novel, but I think that it could have been written as one. But it was obviously easy to incorporate into the series–however little connection was there 🙂

Quotes I Like:

“If you only read the same things over and over again, how do you expect to learn? A narrow library leads to a narrow mind.” (p42)

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“Talent is no prerequisite to proficiency.” (p96)

Other Posts I Have About this Book: I have a couple articles about the book cover: the first being about how romance-y the cover is; the second being about how readers petitioned for a change to that cover; and a third about the new cover (the one that it was published with). (This was obviously a big deal to me! 😀 )

Lauren Willig is one of my favorite authors. And her writing isn’t the only reason why 🙂 Lauren is wonderful at reaching out to her readers. She hosts lots of little contests and giveaways on her website, http://www.laurenwillig.com, such as the one for a Christmas ornament a few months ago that I won :D. One of the things she did recently was reach out to readers who don’t live near enough to visit her in the stores when she tours. (I do live near one of her typical stops, but it’s still about 2 hours away.) All I had to do is email her my address and she sent me a bookplate for my new copy of The Orchid Affair, since I can’t get a signature in the book 😀 Of course I still put my own bookplate in there, too (and blotted out my last name for privacy)


Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

First, and foremost, I’d like to share with you something I won from a contest Lauren Willig hosted on her website. In keeping with the Christmas-timed story of The Mischief of the Mistletoe, Dutton (the publisher) came up with the wonderful idea to create Pink Carnation Christmas ornaments–and I won one!!

The contest was to create an e-mail inbox for a character in one of the Pink Carnation books. While the winners of the ornaments were chosen at random, not for the effort or wit put into the inboxes created, I am very proud of how my inbox turned out. (I won’t copy and paste it here because 1) it’s long and 2) I don’t want to spoil anything for those who might be interested in reading the series. But if you click here, you will be able to see the page about the contest, and my entry (#27, Kristie) 🙂 ) And I even got a little note with my ornament, which makes up for the fact that Willig only comes within 2 hours of where I live on her tours and I can’t bring myself to drive that far for only a few hours 😦 Maybe someday…

Okay, now for the review…

Title: The Mischief of the Mistletoe
Author
: Lauren Willig
Genre
: historical fiction, romance, espionage
ISBN
: 9780525951872
Pages
: 339
Year
Published: 2010 (Oct. 28th)
Source:
personal collection
Rating
: 4/5
Reason for Reading: I avidly follow the Pink Carnation series (and this counted in my 2010 Resolutions)

Summary (from book jacket):

Arabella Dempsey’s dear friend Jane Austen warned her against teaching. But Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies seems the perfect place for Arabella to claim her independence while keeping an eye on her younger sisters nearby. Just before Christmas, she accepts a position at the quiet girls’ school in Bath, expecting to face nothing more exciting than conducting the annual Christmas recital. She hardly imagines coming face-to-face with French aristocrats and international spies…

Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh–often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation–has blundered into danger before. But when he blunders into Miss Arabella Dempsey, it never occurs to him that she might be in trouble. When Turnip and Arabella stumble upon a beautifully wrapped Christmas pudding with a cryptic message written in French–“Meet me at Farley Castle”–the unlikely vehicle for intrigue launches the pair on a Yuletide adventure that ranges from the Austens’ modest drawing room to the awe-inspiring estate of the Duke of Dovedale, where the Dowager Duchess is hosting the most anticipated event of the year: an elaborate twelve-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? And is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella’s and Turnip’s hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding?

My Thoughts: While I did love this book, I didn’t love love it as much as Willig’s previous books. It felt a little slow-moving to me. Her other books have much more adventure and more danger more often in them, while this one had the most danger right toward the end and the characters did not travel far and wide. While that might not necessarily be the reason I didn’t enjoy it as much as the others, I think I know why: it was too realistic 🙂

I know! Why would I like a book less because it’s realistic?! But think of it this way. Arabella is one of four girls–as am I. They are less-well-off than others, but not poor–my family is maybe a little more comfortable than that. Arabella is a teacher–I have my teaching degree (although I don’t have a job right now). And while I already have a significant other–Nick :D–and he’s not a buffoon like Turnip, we definitely share awkward moments like Arabella and Turnip often did in the book. Also, the setting of the novel being in two locations not far from each other remind me of how little I travel.

But when I read books, it’s often for the same reason people watch movies: entertainment and to “get away.” I don’t have the means to travel, and books let me see new places (and different times). But because there were so many similarities in the book to my own life, I didn’t find it as entertaining as the other books.

BUT, I still loved the book–it just wasn’t up to my expectations, I guess.

My Thoughts on the Cover: LOVE IT! I just love so many of the covers for this series, which you may have recognized over my great consternation over the proposed cover for The Orchid Affair, due out in January (it was too bodice-ripper romance for the series, I felt) which I have written various posts on. Anyways, the images on the covers so often have these angelic, innocent looking faces and are just so perfect as resembling the heroines of their respective books.

A Favorite Quote:

“‘Sometimes,’ she [Arabella] said thoughtfully, ‘I think I would be happier if I thought less.'” (p245)

😀 😀 😀 I can’t wait for The Orchid Affair!! It comes out January 20th 😀 😀 😀

A Pink Carnation Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Passages to the Past, a book blog about historical fiction, is hosting a wonderful giveaway for a Pink Carnation Christmas ornament 😀 As many of you probably remember, I have followed the Pink Carnation series for years and am really excited about The Mischief of the Mistletoe being released this coming Thursday, October 28th! But, not only does the winner receive an ornament, but the new hardcover book as well! I’d much more excited about possibly winning the ornament than the book because the ornament will not be sold, but I plan on buying the book anyway.

So here are the giveaway details from Passages to the Past’s blog:

Announcing the Mischief of the Mistletoe + Christmas Ornament Giveaway!

Hello readers, have I got a yummy giveaway to announce! In honor of the release of Lauren Willig’s latest book in the Pink Carnation series, The Mischief of the Mistletoe on October 28, 2010 Passages to the Past has 1 beautiful hardcover copy plus a pretty Christmas Ornament to give away to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY RULES:
– To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address.
– Giveaway is open to US residents ONLY.
– For +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting on Facebook.  You can use the SHARE buttons below and please include the info in the comment section below.
– Giveaway ends on October 29th.
If you are a Pink Carnation fan; a fan of historical fiction that includes espionage, mystery, and romance; or you know someone that is, please pass along this information!! Only 5 more days to enter!!