Starting a new series is exciting but also daunting. When you pick up a series that’s been going for a while, it’s a big commitment – especially for someone like me who HAS to start with book one. Then there’s the catching up. Now, if the series it’s good, that’s obviously a great thing. You’ve got a lot to look forward to. Then again, if it’s only so-so, is it worth it to keep going? Sometimes, authors get better as they go. . . .
Deciding that true romantic heroes are a thing of the past, Eloise Kelly, an intelligent American who always manages to wear her Jimmy Choo suede boots on the day it rains, leaves Harvard’s Widener Library bound for England to finish her dissertation on the dashing pair of spies the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. What she discovers is something the finest historians have missed: a secret history that begins with a letter dated 1803. Eloise has found the secret history of the Pink Carnation the most elusive spy of all time, the spy who single-handedly saved England from Napoleon’s invasion.
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, a wildly imaginative and highly adventurous debut, opens with the story of a modern-day heroine but soon becomes a book within a book. Eloise Kelly settles in to read the secret history hoping to unmask the Pink Carnation’s identity, but before she can make this discovery, she uncovers a passionate romance within the pages of the secret history that almost threw off the course of world events. How did the Pink Carnation save England? What became of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian? And will Eloise Kelly find a hero of her own?
With eleven books so far, The Pink Carnation series is a whopper. I’ve been meaning to read this one for years – and it was definitely worth the wait! I happened to pick it up on a wide-open Saturday and ended up finishing the book. With the setup of a young scholar researching a little-known historical figure, a book within a book setup, AND a secret network of Napoleonic-era spies . . . what’s not to love?!
This is a fast-paced, genre-bending read with plenty of mystery, intrigue, and romance. I was also pleasantly surprised by the witty banter, family-gang-together aspect, and the great female friendship portrayed between Amy and Jane. Even though the time frame for the falling-in-love part and the historical dialogue/attitudes are not particularly realistic, I was thoroughly entertained. I found the historical plot to be way more developed than the modern plot, which was more of a framing device. Willig is clearly setting the stage for future books with Eloise’s story (the modern heroine).
Verdict: Yup, this is a series worth starting!
I’m participating in Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge and used this as my “guilty pleasure” pick (even though I don’t feel guilty at all).
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