THE GARDEN INTRIGUE - Lauren Willig
The Pink Carnation Series
NAL Trade PB
England in 2004
Eloise Kelly is finishing up her dissertation in England , titled "Aristocratic Espionage during the Wars with France : 1789-1815". Living with her boyfriend, Colin Selwick, who also happens to be related to one of the spies Eloise has researched, she is wrapping up her time in England too, although with very mixed feelings. She has yet to tell Colin that she's been offered a position back in the States. The thought of leaving Colin is wrenching, but does he really want to make a commitment? And the better question…does Eloise? In the meantime, a film crew has descended on Selwick Hall. Colin is fuming about it, and Eloise has discovered that someone has been snooping through her research and emails.
In Napoleonic France, 1800s
A long time spy for the British government, Augustus Whittlesby is known in Paris as one of the world's worst poets—but everyone humors him just the same. Everyone, that is, but Emma Delagardie, the widowed friend of fellow spy Jane Wooliston (a.k.a. The Pink Carnation). Augustus and Emma tend to get on each other's nerves, but Emma can be a potential unwitting help to the resident spies, for she is great friends with Hortense, Napoleon's step-daughter, and can gain them access to quite a few places, including Malmaison.
Despite their animosity towards each other, Augustus and Emma agree to co-write a masque to present to the royal family at Malmaison. Augustus has another problem to deal with, a novice spy who has been a bit too out of control for Augustus's sake. Jane, Augustus, and the new spy know of a possible secret device that will be discussed at Malmaison during the event surrounding the masque. The masque will be the perfect cover for Augustus and company to move around unnoticed and observe meetings and such. Of course, surprises abound, including surprises of the heart!
The Pink Carnation series moves into its ninth novel with this enchanting, exciting, and clever story. THE GARDEN INTRIGUE continues the romance of Eloise and Colin, as well as providing a delightful behind the scenes tale of the cadre of spies trying to put Bonaparte out to pasture. Augustus and Emma spend a good part of the story sniping at each other. Emma is appalled at his wretched poems, not to mention his outlandish clothing ( doesn't he even own a waistcoat?). Augustus is bemused by her comments, but is equally confused by his own reaction to her. He has been secretly mooning over Jane Wooliston for years, but Emma is rather intriguing.
I thoroughly enjoyed this terrific book, and highly recommend readers start at the beginning of the series, although THE GARDEN INTRIGUE easily stands alone.