Author: Lauren Willig
Series: Pink Carnation (Book 4)
Publication: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (January 31, 2008)
Description: Determined to secure another London season without assistance from her new brother-in-law, Mary Alsworthy accepts a secret assignment from Lord Vaughn on behalf of the Pink Carnation. She must infiltrate the ranks of the dreaded French spy, the Black Tulip, before he and his master can stage their planned invasion of England. Every spy has a weakness and for the Black Tulip that weakness is beautiful black-haired women?his ?petals? of the Tulip. A natural at the art of seduction, Mary easily catches the attention of the French spy, but Lord Vaughn never anticipated that his own heart would be caught as well. Fighting their growing attraction, impediments from their past, and, of course, the French, Mary and Vaughn find themselves lost in a treacherous garden of lies.
And as our modern-day heroine, Eloise Kelly, digs deeper into England's Napoleonic-era espionage, she becomes even more entwined with Colin Selwick, the descendant of her spy subjects.
My Thoughts: This episode stars Lord Vaughn and Mary Alsworthy. Both of them have appeared in earlier books. Neither was really a positive character. Mary is single-minded in her search for a husband and is willing to use all her womanly wiles to capture one. Lord Vaughn has been a mysterious character of uncertain loyalties.
In this story, Vaughn offers to pay for Mary's next London season if she will act as bait to capture the mysterious Black Tulip. Mary wants the season. In her defense, marriage really was the only acceptable path for a woman in her social class at the time. I loved the dialogue between the two of them as they sparred, exchanged quotations, and tried to outdo each other.
It was fun to watch two cynical and practical people fall in love but secrets from Lord Vaughn's past threaten to derail their bright new future. And the Black Tulip has plans of his own that create all sorts of danger for both Vaughn and Mary.
In the present section of the story, Eloise finally gets to have her date with Colin wherein she learns why he was so unwelcoming when she came to look at the family papers.
But then, that was the way of illusions, wasn't it? All charlatans, whether stage magicians or the amorous rake, relied upon man's yearning to be deceived, to gaze in the mirror of his own desirings and be gulled by the image therein. It was a tempting prospect, to look and believe, like Faust panting after Helen's shadow. In the end, however, the mirror always cracked, revealing the images for the shams they were. Loyalty, love, the oys of home and hearth—no more substantial than an opium dream and just as debilitating while they lasted.I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.