THE BETRAYAL OF THE BLOOD LILY - Lauren Willig
NAL Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-451-23205-2
January 2011
Historical Mystery

England - 2004

Eloise Kelly is in England working on her dissertation, “Aristocratic Espionage During the Wars with France : 1789-1815.” As a third year graduate student from Harvard, Eloise has spent the past months researching a certain spy called the Pink Carnation and has already found several links to this person, mostly because of her British boyfriend, Colin Selwick, who had an ancestor known as the Purple Gentian, the founder of a spy school. Eloise is at Colin's aunt's house reading old family letters, concentrating on correspondence between Henrietta and her friend Penelope mostly because of a reference at one point to a spy called the Marigold. Penelope's letters from India have opened a new door for Eloise.

India - during the Regency Era

Thanks to some poor judgment, Penelope Deveraux is now Lady Frederick Staines and arriving in India with her new husband. Freddy, happy-go-lucky no more, treats her like part of the luggage, except in bed. His assignment as Special Envoy to the Court of Hyderabad is more exile than anything else, although he is also to gather intelligence for Lord Wellesley. But the main object is to get the two of them out of England until the scandal becomes a distant memory. The thing is, Penelope is not going to “go gracefully”----she is furious, frustrated, and is not about to be the good little wife of the envoy. Her first target is their escort to Hyderabad , one Captain Alex Reid, an insufferable British Army officer who makes no bones about his dislike for her husband, and, of course, the fact that Lord Frederick brought his wife to India .

The journey to Hyderabad has plenty of ups and downs, and Penelope spends most of it either arguing with Freddy or their escort. She is not a typical obedient wife----she plunges into the water to save a servant, and insists on riding rather than lounging in a covered palanquin. Reid grudgingly admires Penelope's determination to learn the local language and traditions. Reid also knows that there is plenty ahead to deal with, including the spy known as the Marigold who may, or may not be fomenting a possible confrontation between England and France in the Hyderabad area. The group's arrival in Hyderabad is only the beginning of Reid's problems with Freddy and Penelope. The local ruler, the Nizam, has spies everywhere, is dangerous to deal with, and Reid hopes that Lady Frederick will behave when introduced.

Lauren Willig's latest installment of her fantastic Pink Carnation books is one of its most exciting, as well as romantic. Both Eloise and Penelope are spirited, bright, and not ones to shrink from a challenge. Penelope wants to make something of her marriage, but Freddy is not about to change his ways. Alex Reid is a delightfully honorable influence in Penelope's life, although they spend a lot of time bickering about her behavior! Beautifully written, as usual, THE BETRAYAL OF THE BLOOD LILY is a terrific mystery wrapped around two love stories, and is filled with plenty of adventure. I love this series!

Do read the previous novels (see the list at www.laurenwillig.com ) in order to thoroughly understand the connection with the other “flower” spies.

Jani Brooks