Espionage and romance continue to be great fun in another solid installment of the Pink Carnation series.
In her eighth series adventure, Willig (The Mischief of the Mistletoe, 2010, etc) takes a cue from Jane Eyre, presenting an orphaned governess as her latest heroine and, of course, spy. Miss Laura Grey has learned to hide her voluptuous beauty under a stern schoolmistress's guise. But when an opportunity to break out of her rut appears, she grabs it, landing an assignment that uses her real history as a governess to strike a blow for England in the ongoing Napoleonic wars. Assuming the French identity of her father and placed in charge of the children of the widowed revolutionary André Jaouen, Laura—now Laure Griscogne—discovers the Paris of her childhood has become a grim and fearful place. When an old family acquaintance nearly blows her cover, however, she begins to see a different side of her employer—and he of her. Although he apparently works at the Prefecture of Paris hunting enemies of the state, Jaouen has grown dismayed by the Reign of Terror, and the two may actually be on the same side. On the run, they learn to trust each other in order to not only survive but to protect his innocent children. The action builds up to an utterly predictable but enjoyable climax. Thanks to Willig's customary wit and sure hand with historical details, 19th-century France comes alive yet again in this volume. Laura is a solid heroine, headstrong and mature enough to be believable. And if the charged romance between the two is a little clichéd, readers of the series will hardly care. Only the series' contemporary framing device, featuring a Harvard researcher and her boyfriend, seems a little strained, but it takes up little space in this otherwise fast-paced and fun frolic.
Willig's sparkling series continues to elevate the Regency romance genre.