The Seduction Of The Crimson Rose
- Allison & Busby
- Publication Date:
- 07 February 2011
- Historical romance
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Willig has done it again, pulling the readers of her fourth historical fiction novel into Napoleonic England with grace and skill. Not only have Willig's writing style and plot formation improved drastically since her first book, but the sub-plot of Eloise Kelly enriches the story, rather than takes away from the plot (as in the first novel). After enjoying each of the Pink Carnation books, I can safely proclaim myself a loyal fan of Willig. I can't wait for more!
I skipped this entry in the series originally because I wasn't as interested in Mary and Vaughn. I have revised my opinion. True, their initial attraction isn't as intense or exciting to me, but that's because I'm a fan of star-crossed lovers. Two people that dislike each other, but only to hide their true feelings. Or when one person is madly in love but thinks the other person couldn't care less, except, of course, they do. Mary and Vaughn exhibit none of these behaviors, as is true to their characters. They are cynical and bitter, they have seen love stripped of illusions, and they are all too familiar with lust. When they realize that they are attracted to each other, they don't engage in much subterfuge. Although their initial courtship was different from others in the series, it was exactly as it should have been. Mary and Vaughn are almost the complete opposite of other heroes and heroines in the Pink Carnation series, and they would naturally act in a contrary manner. In fact, the whole tone of this novel is much darker and more sarcastic in humor than others. Also, after their first kiss, the author rewards us with romantic tension of the sort I crave, as Vaughn pretends complete disinterest in Mary, and Mary decides to catch Mr. St. George as her husband. Despite their intentions, the two are inescapably drawn together, and life contrives to provide a happy ending for the pair.Oh yes, there is a plot besides the romance, of course. The Black Tulip is still on the loose, and the Pink Carnation has asked Vaughn to use Mary as a decoy, a new tulip in his collection. The plan succeeds, but the spy is not so trustful, sensing a plot, and asks Mary to prove her loyalty by killing Vaughn. She attempts to stop him, showing the Black Tulip that her involvement is just a ruse, and risks her own life to help Vaughn after the Tulip successfully shoots him through the shoulder. The action is as fast-paced and fun as I've come to expect from the Carnation series, and blends with the romance to create a tidy little package of reading escapism. In spite of my first impressions, I very much enjoyed this novel. It is not one of my favorites, but it is still a delightful read.
All in all, a good story. A little light on chapters covering the modern-day drama between Colin and Eloise - when will they get their own installment?! - but as far as history goes, this one certainly fits in well with the series. Not being big on British history, the plot reveal near the end confused me...but still a good read.
I've always enjoyed the mixture of a modern story with a historical romance in these books.Although I like reading it, the current day plot is getting a bit thin-- Eloise Kelly is an American in England, working on research for her dissertation on spies in the Napoleonic wars. She's hit a vein of useful papers, and met a very interesting man, who happens to be guardian of said papers. Romance and research! A villain was introduced in this volume, which adds promise for the future installments.The meat of the book is the historical story. Until now, these have featured typical regency characters-- the woman with flaws that are modern day virtues, the men who are strong but ready to fall in love.Mary Allsworthy is beautiful, and really a bit of a bitch. She knows what she wants, and figures out what she needs to do to get it. She isn't mean-spirited, but other people aren't really a priority with her.Lord Vaughn isn't a particularly nice guy. In fact, those somewhat in the know are suspicious of whether he is in league with the Black Tulip, an infamous French spy.As you would expect, they both end up involved in the spy ring, and once you've been involved in a government plot together, can true love be far behind? Of course,there are complications, and of course they explain why Vaughn has become the unpleasant fellow he seems to be.I like the historical notes at the end. Of course, the author could be making those up as well, and I'd never know.An entertaining adventure with a slightly unusual romance, and a modern day framing. It works for me.
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