THE ORCHID AFFAIR - Lauren Willig
A Pink Carnation Book
Dutton (Hardcover)
January 2011
Historical Romance

France - 1804 and the Present

Now
Eloise and her boyfriend, Colin, are in Paris for his mother's birthday party. Not that Colin is all that excited about it, but he is a loyal son, even if his mother is a bit eccentric. Eloise is also using this opportunity to do a little more research for her graduate dissertation, “Aristocratic Espionage during the Wars with France , 1792-1815”. The fact is, this is how she met Colin, who happens to be a descendant of one these aristocrats. Meeting his mother and her new husband is nerve-wracking, but Eloise will suck it up and deal with it, despite Colin's reticence over attending the party weekend.

1804
Laura Grey will finally have some excitement in her life. After years of being a governess for various employers, Laura has graduated from the Selwick spy school and is in Paris to work as, surprise, a governess for the assistant to Bonaparte's minister of police. The Pink Carnation has assigned her the code name Silver Orchid and will, most likely, be directing the entire process, whatever that may be, in Paris. Laura finds herself in the chaotic household of Andre Jaouen, the hardworking, stressed-out widowed father of two young children who, until recently, had been safe in the countryside with their grandfather. Unfortunately, the old man choked on a chicken bone and died, and now Andre has to rely on a stranger in his house to monitor and educate his offspring. The fact that she is attractive and very bright is slightly distracting to Andre, but soon he discovers how important his decision to hire Laura will be to him and his family.

To Laura's dismay, some of her distant past comes to light with the arrival of an old friend of her late parents. She has already been in the crosshairs of the evil Gaston Delaroche, a member of the ministry of police, who suspects everyone in his determination to advance his career. Now she must tread carefully and lay low, which proves to be difficult when Andre includes her in one of his soirees at his home. With the Pink Carnation in attendance as well as her old friend, many things come to a head that night as Laura makes a startling discovery that endangers everyone. Just who is Andre Jaouen?

Laura is a woman on a mission—and that mission is to put her life as a dull, underpaid governess behind her. Her intelligence and bravery know no bounds as she follows her dangerous orders and uses not only her spy training, but her common sense to sort things out.

The Pink Carnation series just gets better with each installment! Readers need not have read the previous books to enjoy this one, but I very highly recommend that they do! Please check out Ms. Willig's website at http://www.laurenwillig.com/ to get started with this fabulous series. Great writing, marvelous characters, and the ongoing first-person account of Eloise's sometimes bumbling attempt to finish her studies.

Jani Brooks