Author: Lauren Willig
Series: Pink Carnation (Book 12)
Publication: NAL (August 4, 2015)
Description: Portugal, December 1807. Jack Reid, the British agent known as the Moonflower (formerly the French agent known as the Moonflower), has been stationed in Portugal and is awaiting his new contact. He does not expect to be paired with a woman—especially not the legendary Pink Carnation.
All of Portugal believes that the royal family departed for Brazil just before the French troops marched into Lisbon. Only the English government knows that mad seventy-three-year-old Queen Maria was spirited away by a group of loyalists determined to rally a resistance. But as the French garrison scours the countryside, it’s only a matter of time before she’s found and taken.
It’s up to Jane to find her first and ensure her safety. But she has no knowledge of Portugal or the language. Though she is loath to admit it, she needs the Moonflower. Operating alone has taught her to respect her own limitations. But she knows better than to show weakness around the Moonflower—an agent with a reputation for brilliance, a tendency toward insubordination, and a history of going rogue.
My Thoughts: Knowing that this was the last book in the Pink Carnation series, and knowing that Jane was going to be the star, made me a little apprehensive. Jane has been a character in many of the previous books in the series but she was always the quiet, self-contained mastermind who kept her plots and plans really close to her chest. I had trouble seeing her let herself be vulnerable enough to fall in love. I was wrong and Lauren Willig is a rock star!
This story takes place in Portugal just as the French are invading and the Portuguese Royal Family is fleeing to Brazil. Rumor has it that Queen Maria missed the boat, literally, making her a pawn for whichever side manages to control her. The Pink Carnation is sent to try to find her and get her on her way to Brazil. However, Jane doesn't speak Portuguese and doesn't know the territory. She is set to make contact with the Moonflower - Jack Reid - who has been working in Portugal for a few years.
Jane has a good idea who Jack is both from knowing his exploits in India and from her family connections in England. After all, she is godmother to Jack's youngest sister Plumeria. Her chaperone married his father. But the written reports and even the memories of his father don't tell the whole story. Jane learns that there is much more to Jack Reid.
At first, Jack and Jane's relationship is difficult. Both of them are used to being independent operators and, if they are part of the team, they are definitely the leader of the team. So these two strong-willed people, besides not really trusting each other, are constantly butting heads. They do grow to know each other and trust each other through the events of this story which is complicated when the Gardener makes his appearance. He was Jack's boss until he ordered him killed in India. He and Jane also had a brief relationship in Venice after she was disowned by her family.
This story neatly ties up all the historical events. It also ties up the present story line which mostly takes place at the run-up before Colin and Eloise's wedding complicated by the kidnapping of Colin's great-aunt. I laughed hysterically as I was reading about Pammy's cell phone going off at the wedding and her fishing it out of her bodice to answer it.
This was a great series. I hope Lauren Willig does wind back and tell some of the stories that didn't fit into this series someday.
She could be high-handed. Could be? Ha. She was. Autocratic, dictatorial, domineering. But never beyond reason. That, Jack realized, was what made all the difference. She might be accustomed to acting unilaterally, but she wasn't beyond explaining her reasoning, or, when it came to it, admitting when she might be in the wrong.I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.