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by Lauren Willig

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-525-95254-1
Publisher: Dutton

The latest installment in the Pink Carnation historical romantic suspense series is as fresh and charming as its floral theme.

Emma Delagardie has a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A young American who ran away with a scientifically minded older Frenchman, the petite blonde now plays the merry widow in Paris, hosting visiting countrymen and affecting a fashionable giddiness she does not feel. A friend of Napoleon's stepdaughter, she's recruited to create a masque for the soon-to-be Emperor at his country chateau of Malmaison. What she doesn't know is that her collaborator, and crush, the foppish poet Augustus Whittlesby, is actually an agent for the notorious British spy, Jane Wooliston (aka, the Pink Carnation), for whom he also feels an unrequited passion. Or that her American buddy, Robert Fulton, is not only working on a steamboat but also a tactical weapon that could allow Napoleon to invade England. Between Whittlesby's interest in Wooliston and Napoleon's in Fulton, Emma doesn't seem to stand much of a chance. But true hearts always win out in this delightful series, and this ninth installment holds true to Willig's (The Orchid Affair, 2011, etc.) principles that the female characters should be as involved in the swashbuckling espionage as their love interests. Meanwhile, the modern framing device has a film crew invading historic Selwick Hall, and a job offer back in the U.S. threatening grad student Eloise Kelly's fledgling romance with the smoldering Colin. It may be hard to worry overmuch, but the adventure is worth the ride—and this smart and funny installment concludes with the promise of more suspense (and a treasure hunt) in books to come.

A reliable romp through Napoleon's court, filled with romance and yet another adorable and very active heroine.