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Swashbucking Romance: the Pink Carnation series

14/02/2014

If your Regency fiction is beginning to feel a touch bland, may I suggest an injection of spies, flowers, intrigue and well dressed heroes? I no longer recall how I stumbled upon this series, but the Pink Carnation series written by Lauren Willig is great silly fun.  In the Secret History of the Pink Carnation, Eloise Kelly is an American who is trying to finish her history dissertation and is having a streak of bad luck where she doesn't have a good subject for her dissertation, is dumped by her boyfriend, and has her new expensive shoes destroyed by rain. She heads to England to try and discover more papers around the networks of spies that cropped up after the Scarlet Pimpernel was unmasked so that she can finish her thesis. Of course, the archive is held by a broodingly handsome Englishman... The other half of the story is found in what the archived papers describe: the tale of the Purple Genitian and the Pink Carnation who are carrying on for the Scarlet Pimpernel in spying for England against Boneparte, so we follow Lord Richard Selwick, and Amy Balcourt who wishes to join the ranks of the Pink Carnation as a spy. This is the start to an immensely entertaining series with many loveable characters like Turnip Fitzhugh, not the brightest and with terrible fashion sense but always there for his friends in a jam, or even the dangerous Lord Vaughn who can cut you down with a mere glance and has so many legends about his debauched youth. Most of the books in the series have the dual stories where you follow Eloise and her brooding Englishman, Colin, as well as the next adventures of the flower named spies. Willig is going to end her series after twelve books, which is probably a smart move, as it could get stale. We have all ten so far available to be borrowed her at OPL, with Pink Carnation XI out this year, and ending it all off with Pink Carnation XII next year. I'll be reading to the very end.