Thursday, July 05, 2012

Review: The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig

The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig
New American Library
October 2006
Format: Paperback, 464 pages

First line: I bit my lip on an "Are we there yet?"

From the back cover: Modern-day graduate student Eloise achieved the academic coup of the century when she unmasked one of history's greatest spies, the Pink Carnation, who saved England from Napoleon. But now she has a million questions about the Carnation's deadly French nemesis, the Black Tulip. And she's pretty sure that her handsome on-again, off-again crush, Colin Selwick, has the answers somewhere in his archives. When she finally comes across an old codebook, Eloise discovers something juicier than she ever imagined: an unlikely pair who were hot on the trail of the Black Tulip and had every intention of stopping him from killing the Pink Carnation and bringing down England. But what they didn't know was that while they were trying to find the Tulip - and stumbling upon something like love - the Black Tulip was watching them...

My thoughts: This is the second in Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series and I found it to be a charming, fun book. It is a blend of romance, humor, historical events and spy intrigue, cleverly pairing chick lit with historical fiction. I admit, I do not know much about the whole spy network and am quite intrigued by it.

The Masque of the Black Tulip tells the story of Henrietta and Miles, who happen to find love while trying to find the elusive and dangerous Black Tulip. Miles is tasked by the War Office with doing some espionage to help find a French spy in England, and Henrietta has been sent a note from the Pink Carnation, in code, to do the same. As they each try to figure out the identity, they find themselves in some pretty sticky situations, at times quite funny, and find themselves forced into a marriage. Can they find the Black Tulip before he/she ruins the spy network in London? Can their forced marriage be turned into a partnership that they both want? Along the way, we meet some new characters, all who could possibly be this Black Tulip.

Interspersed throughout this story is the modern-day story of Eloise. After discovering the identity of the Pink Carnation, Eloise is staying in Colin's home and using his archives to learn more about the spy's exploits as a British spy in Napoleonic France.  We also see the continued development in the relationship between Eloise and Colin - but are left with many more questions than answers on this. 

I really like how the story goes back and forth from modern day to 200 years ago and is done without much of a disruption in the overall story-telling. I am looking forward to seeing just how things turn out between Eloise and Colin in the next installment, The Deception of the Emerald Ring.

Have you read this series? How do you feel about the pairing of chick lit with historical fiction?

(I purchased this book.)

Books in this series:
  1. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
  2. The Masque of the Black Tulip
  3. The Deception of the Emerald Ring
  4. The Seduction of the Crimson Rose
  5. The Temptation of the Night Jasmine
  6. The Betrayal of the Blood Lily
  7. The Mischief of the Mistletoe
  8. The Orchid Affair
  9. The Garden Intrigue



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