Drusilla Sedgewick, a poor relation who did not manage to snare a husband during the London season of 1814, accompanies the three Thornrose spinsters (Miss Thornrose and the Rake, not reviewed) to France as their secretary. While she rides in a coach with them and the flibbertigibbet Christabel, wife of Lord Toddington, England’s premier spymaster, they’re waylaid by brigands, and Dru, mistaken for Christabel, is abducted. But by whom? Could it be the dreaded Excelsior, head of the exiled Napoleon’s secret police? No matter. Dru outwits her captors and makes her way to Paris, where Lord Toddington himself introduces her to one of the brigands, now revealed as MacRory Holt, an undercover agent for the British, who surreptitiously abetted her escape. Will Dru help him out now with a spot of spying? Of course she will. Using code names, invisible ink, gypsy couriers, and late-night meetings in deserted spots, Dru and Holt plot against Excelsior, who’s fiendishly planning the death of the Duke of Wellington. Christabel, meanwhile, is entertaining the Chevalier Guy de Saint-Armand and Farnshaw Eggleston, who may not be as charming as they seem. When Bonaparte marches on Paris, the Toddington entourage is forced to flee to Brussels. Holt and Excelsior collide, but plucky Dru saves the day and is quickly whisked off to Vienna on a wedding trip.
A rudimentary 19th-century–English-French history lesson for fans who wish the Scarlet Pimpernel had lived long enough for Technicolor—the whole production slathered in romance and best suited for the YA market.