Book Review Club ~ March

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@Barrie Summy

For this month’s Book Review Club, I’m technically reviewing The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willlig, but in reality, I’m going to cover the whole Pink Carnation series. Don’t worry–just the highlights.

There are now six books to the Pink Carnation series–all of them with lovely, unique, rather entrancing covers, and I have read them all, since the very beginning. The tag line on Lauren Willig’s website reads, “Intrigue. Espionage. Romance. Swordplay. Comedy.” And that pretty well sums things up. The series records the secret history of a series of flower-named spies working in early nineteenth century England, France…and now, with The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, India. But really that’s just part of the story, because these secrets are being discovered in real-time by a Harvard grad student living in England, dating a descendant of one of these very spies. So the stories are part romance, part action/adventure, part chick-lit, and part historical fiction, with Willig wielding her English history degree very, very well. Not to mention her flair for the witty one-liner.

In The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, a rather bitter Penelope, Lady Frederick Staines has just arrived in India with her husband, who is to be the Special Envoy to the Court of Hyderabad, basically a spy for Lord Wellesley, the Governor General. While her husband hunts and plays cards, Penelope finds herself spending her time with Captain Alex Reid, trying to piece together if he might be involved in the rumored plots inciting the locals to rise against the British.

When she finds her husband has taken a mistress (and flaunting her), she tries, unsuccessfully, to seduce Captain Reid. Her husband then goes off on a hunting trip in a region that is evidently central to the rumored plots, and so Penelope and Captain Reid covertly follow…and engage in a spot of adultery. I don’t want to give away more than that, so suffice it to say that, like any good novel with a romance at its core, it all works out well in the end. Just like I like it.

This was not my favorite in the series, mostly because I don’t like to have to work too hard when reading a book, and this book took a lot of concentration as Willig included copious details about the state of the British Empire in India in the early nineteenth century. In fact, if you read the Author’s Note at the end, a significant portion of the book was based on historical fact. Also…Penelope was not my favorite heroine. Let’s just say she had a few personal issues to work out, which, at the end, she did. That said, it was definitely an enjoyable read, and I would recommend it on its own merit, as well as part of the immensely enjoyable Pink Carnation series.

Posted in book review club, Lauren Willig on 03/03/2010 11:20 am


  1. Keri Mikulski

    Sounds like a great series. Thanks for the review! :)

  2. Green Girl in Wisconsin

    I've seen these but never read 'em. Yet.

  3. Love the way you arranged the book covers! Is that hard to do? I hadn't heard of this series until reading this review. Sounds interesting. :)

  4. I hadn't heard of this series before; thanks for the great review! I left romance novels behind a long time ago, but a good mystery–especially one with humor–is definitely something I would enjoy.

  5. I may have to read these – need something new – and this sounds like the type of thing I used to read. Love it when the present touches the past – I keep trying to write it that way myself and I love to learn new ways to do it.

  6. Willig's books are on my to-read list. Another blogger compared them to The Scarlet Pimpernel back in February, and that comparison settled the matter for me. I LOVE The Scarlet Pimpernel.

    Fun review. How did arrange the book covers like that? I only know how to center them.

  7. Before I forget, the cover of The Seduction of Crimson Rose features a Romney portrait of Emma Hamilton — the lover of Admiral Nelson. I read a biography of her last summer and it was fascinating — if you are interested in this time period (as I am).

    I didn't know about this series; so glad to be introduced. Thanks so much for your review.

  8. Sarah Laurence

    I loved how you reviewed a whole series in one post. It sounds fun.

  9. Alyssa Goodnight

    Barrie and Stacy,
    The 'arrangement' was done by selecting left, center and right layout for the individual pictures. I was actually hoping they'd all appear in a line…

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