To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyses reviews to verify trustworthiness.
I'll admit I was worried about Penelope at the end of Night Jasmine. I didn't like her husband and I didn't like the idea of her being shipped off to India. In fact I was kind of hoping that the author would find a way to get her out of it. That just shows what I know as this is one of my favourite of the series so far. I liked the change of scene and new cast of characters that India offered and I'm hoping to hear more from some of the people and families that are introduced in this book. I think it would work better as a stand alone than some of the others in the series as well. There's still the intrigue and romance, but this plot seems more grounded and real than some of the others, and Penelope's force marriage (whatever her reasons for getting forced into it) ring very true for women of the era. Well worth a read.
I have read the other books of the Pink Carnation series - more for mindless relaxation than to take in some high-brow literature and whilst I have found them enjoyable the earlier novels in the series have seemed quite light and at times the plot, frankly, quite ridiculous. However, this book was much better. It benefited from a change of location, less emphasis on the 'flowery' theme and characters that were more fleshed out than in previous books. My only criticism would be that the author always seems to intentionally make the main historical protagonists misunderstand each others, quite obvious, behavior. Apart from that, this was far and above better than any of the other novels in the series.
Lauren Willig has to be one of the best writers of her day. The in-depth research of India, France and the UK at the turn of the 19th century is cleverly embroidered into a compelling historical romance. Her characters are brilliantly portrayed and the plot is superb.
A marriage of convenience that is remarkably inconvenient for for all parties concerned sees Penelope Deveraux married to Lord Frederick Staines and on her way to India. Freddy has been appointed a special envoy. Freddy isn't at all qualified unless there is a secret need for someone to drink, play cards, and cavort with women not his wife. Penelope is as outrageous as possible to cover her regrets.
The journey to Hyderabad gives her a chance to meet Captain Alex Reid who is a representative of the British leader of Hyderabad. She immediately takes him in dislike and suspects him of all sort of things, not the least of which is treason.
Freddy neglects Penelope badly once they get to Hyderabad and she comes to depend on Alex for companionship. A letter from home also puts her on the alert for the Marigold, a French spy. All sorts of adventures happen including venomous snakes, long journeys through the countryside, and more spies than seem possible.
This was an engaging story set in a country and time that is new to me as a reader. I loved the descriptions. I also loved getting to know Penelope better and coming to understand why she was the way she was in the earlier books.
I am also enjoying the story of Colin and Eloise as they get to know one another better. Colin certainly has an interesting family with all sorts of conflicts.
This historical fiction, set in 19th century India, has all the ingredients of an intrigue-filled adventure-romance. The author provides authentic insights into the politics of the times and sweeps us right into the durbar of the Nizam of Hyderabad and gives us a feel of Begum Johnson's lavish parties in Calcutta.
There is a contemporary angle to the story as well. The protagonist of the modern times is an American researcher, Eloise, whose history project takes her to England where she meets Colin even as she delves into the life and times of Lady Penelope Staines and her troubled relationship with her husband Lord Frederick Staines. The story flits between Penelope and Eloise's lives.
Penelope is by far the most interesting character who clearly has a mind of her own and an acerbic tongue to match. Her impulsive nature, which causes her much grief in upper crust English society, also lands her in trouble when she accompanies her husband to India. Soon she finds herself matching wits with the Nizam's wily prime minister, chasing a French spy who goes by the name of Marigold, besides falling in love with the straight as an arrow Captain Reid.
The only drawback in this well-researched and beautifully written story of adventure and romance is the contemporary thread which doesn't quite add much to the narrative and could have been easily done away with. I do hope the author will write a book about Captain Reid's half-brother, Jack, who is modelled on the real-life persona of Anglo-Indian mercenary Colonel James Skinner. Looking forward to reading more of Lauren Willig's work.
I loved this 6th edition in the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig. What I like about Lauren Willig's brand of historical fiction is that it is light and fun without being fluffy or losing a firm grounding in actual historical fact. This installment takes us away from the traditional societies of London and Paris to join Lady Frederick Staines (Penelope) in exile in India. All of Lauren Willig's historical heroines are charmingly fabulous in their own ways but I think that Penelope successfully dethroned Henrietta as my favorite of all of them. No modern woman with any spirit could fail to like Penelope and feel for her "fish out of water" personality. She just wasn't made to be appreciated in her own time. This book maintained the common thread of characters sussing out undercover operatives -- this one by the facially unimpressive name of the Marigold -- but having the plot woven through and interwined with the intrigue of India during that time period had a welcome freshness. Willig also throws in a plot twist in that Penelope starts the book already married -- a forced marriage to nip a scandal in the bud -- and so she isn't in the ideal position to meet the man of her dreams and fall in love. All in all, this book (and its heroine) was refreshingly original and a wonderful opportunity for escapism.
It is apparent in post history notes she is familiar with the history connected to this book. However, this novel is completely void of any atmosphere or charming characters. The supposed mystery is dissipated to disappear in thin air. It could have been set anywhere with wars in remote places. She writes with no passion or real desire to put us where the story takes place. However, if you are a fan of the new wave of romance novels (aka bodice rippers) you might like this book.
A nineteenth-century exotic locale, a handsome officer and a feisty heroine make for archetypical romantic fare, but Lauren Willig's new novel THE BETRAYAL OF THE BLOOD LILY is anything BUT a conventional bodice ripper embellished with historical detail. In her sixth novel in her "PINK CARNATION" series, Willig exhibits once again that she is an accomplished raconteur as she weaves an intricate and lively tale involving spies, espionage and romance during the Napoleonic Wars between Britain and France. Whereas the previous novels have taken place in England and France involving a set of interrelated characters, Willig has taken a bold leap in introducing a new ensemble cast and intriguingly transported the narrative to exotic India.
Our heroine Penelope Deveraux, who we met briefly in the previous novel THE TEMPTATION OF THE NIGHT JASMINE, is as bold as brass. Her unpropitious behavior had always set more than a few fans fluttering and tongue's wagging in London society, but she never thought a little kanoodling would force her into a hasty marriage with the dissipated Lord Frederick Staines. To avert scandal, the couple is quickly packed off to India where Freddy has accepted the position as Governor General Wellesley's Special Envoy to the Court of Hyderabad. Married life is more than a bit disappointing as Freddy's diversions tend toward gambling away her dowry and dalliances with the local bibi, the Indian equivalent of a mistress. One would think that Lady Penelope would be at odds in this strange new world far and away from the tempered drawing rooms of England, but she can ride and shoot and talk politics with the best of the big boys. This is more than a bit disconcerting to Captain Alex Reid who is escorting Lord Staines and his adventurous young wife to Hyderabad. She is a willful, flipant and an opinionated aristocrat. He is a disciplined, by-the-book, level headed solider and more than alarmed by her unconventional behavior. Their sharp banter is reminiscent of Scarlet O'Hara and Rhett Butler on a bad day. Unfortunately, he frankly does give a damn. Pen is a married woman and her overt flirtation and unguarded behavior is sorely testing his honor. The political situation in India is just as tumultuous as the British and French jockey for control after the end of the Maratha War. In the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad, power and deceit go hand-in-hand fueling rumors of a French flower spy the Marigold. Gold and guns are missing which could turn the axis of power back into French hands. Somehow Penelope is connected to the Marigold and Captain Reid reluctantly accepts her help to uncover a dangerous spy, save British interest in India and thwart Bonaparte. Oh, and along the way, a few buttons get popped.
As with all of the previous novels in this series, the parallel plot with contemporary scholar Eloise Kelly prompts the historical story as she conducts her own research into the enigmatic British flower spies during the Napoleonic wars. Her investigation into the Selwick family papers has uncovered more than just primary source material for her doctoral thesis. After a tentative beginning Eloise and Colin, the Selwick family scion and possible modern spy, are a steady item. Since Eloise's love life is on track she decides to match make for Colin's younger sister Serena. Like Jane Austen's famous misapplying heroine Emma Woodhouse, she is clueless about what attracts people to one another and why her choices are so wrong. Eloise's social insecurities and endearingly flawed personality is what makes her both vulnerable and attractive to us, and Colin. Like the brash over confident Lady Penelope Staines, she does not realize yet that her weaknesses are her greatest strengths. Throughout the novel, Willig proves again and again that she is a nonpareil in the delicate art of characterization supplying an array of personalities whose foibles and strengths rival those penned in classic literature. Queen of the poignant adjective, Willig's witty dialogue sparkles resplendently with humor and delight. I couldn't have been more content being back in her world.
A superior addition to the "PINK CARNATION" series, readers of THE BETRAYAL OF THE BLOOD LILY will be as crestfallen as I when they finish the last page and realize that they must wait a whole year for the next book.
This is my least favorite books of this series so far. Took forever to get going, and it was hard to follow once it did. The villain was surprising as he was such a minor character. The trip through India left my head spinning, and not in a good way. I like this series, but this book disappointed me.