Series: Pink Carnation #7
Published by Berkley on October 28, 2010
Genres: Historical Romance, Mystery
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Despite her dear friend Jane Austen's warning against teaching, Arabella Dempsey accepts a position at a girls' school in Bath, just before Christmas. She hardly imagines coming face-to-face with French aristocrats and international spies.
Reginald "Turnip" Fitzhugh-often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation-has blundered into danger before. When Turnip and Arabella find their Christmas pudding yielding a cryptic message, they are launched on a Yuletide adventure. Will they find poinsettias-or peril?
The holidays and a missing list make a girls’ boarding school the latest hotbed of intrigue. At last, the whimsical and bumbling Turnip Fitzhugh gets his turn at romance. Naturally, I was all kinds of curious about his romance match and his part in the espionage antics of The Pink Carnation series.
The Mischief of the Mistletoe is the seventh Pink Carnation series story. Some can be read standalone for the most part, but this one takes place chronologically between the two previous releases and Turnip, in particular, has been spectacularly present through earlier books in the series. And, he is worth getting to know from the beginning.
The Mischief of Mistletoe was a fun and fast read. I have loved the bumbling Turnip all along and found his gentle, honorable, but fun character a nice foil for some of the more dazzling characters he shared scenes with. It is ironic he bares the closest resemblance of all the lead ‘spy’ characters of the series to the original Scarlet Pimpernel with his beta hero traits, but he is not a career spy in disguise. Oh yes, he’s done a few minor tasks and even took the heat off the real spies when he had the French all believing he was England’s Pink Carnation. I was thrilled he was getting his own story.
As for Arabella, this poor gal has been the overlooked and dutiful poor relation all her life. Nobody even bothers to remember her name. The author’s gives her a close friend in Jane Austen and Arabella’s back story is a strong wink toward Austen’s unfinished tale, The Watsons. Arabella had been so neglected and ignored she was prey to a fortune hunter. Instead of being a figure of pity, she is proactive and makes a feisty heroine when her personality is allowed free rein.
They are both fun, amateur spies, but they get there in the end. The backdrop of the girls’ school with the girls pranks, antics that teenage girls are good for, and the staff made an interesting setting for the adventure. There is also an estate house party nearby that both Arabella and Turnip have connections with and will attend to add to the holiday backdrop.
The romance was sweet to me. Turnip really sees Arabella when not one other person does. He sees a beautiful, desirable and intelligent woman. She reciprocates and sees past his rattling ways to a steady, honorable man who isn’t as dimwitted as others think.
I had the villains figured out early and was glad to see how Turnip and Arabella brought them down.
All in all, this was a wonderful series installment. I was glad to get this holiday story from the series that went along swiftly with just the one timeline making it feel like a ‘tween’ series side adventure. I had a good time with it and it rivals Seduction of the Crimson Rose for series favorite.
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