Series: Pink Carnation #10
Published by Berkley on August 6, 2013
Genres: Historical Mystery
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Colonel William Reid has returned home from India to retire near his children, who are safely stowed in an academy in Bath. Upon his return to the Isles, however, he finds that one of his daughters has vanished, along with one of her classmates.
Having served as second-in-command to the Pink Carnation, one of England’s most intrepid spies, it would be impossible for Gwendolyn Meadows to give up the intrigue of Paris for a quiet life in the English countryside—especially when she’s just overheard news of an alliance forming between Napoleon and an Ottoman Sultan. But, when the Pink Carnation’s little sister goes missing from her English boarding school, Gwen reluctantly returns home to investigate the girl’s disappearance.
Thrown together by circumstance, Gwen and William must cooperate to track down the young ladies before others with nefarious intent get their hands on them. But Gwen’s partnership with quick-tongued, roguish William may prove to be even more of an adventure for her than finding the lost girls…
The Pink Carnation series edges ever nearer to the final book and in this latest, we get to see the Pink Carnation’s own second in command stepping reluctantly into the limelight for this latest spying adventure slash treasure hunt from Paris to Bath and into the English countryside. Full of frolicksome humor, a pinch of spice to the romance, and uproarious adventure, the Pink Carnation series installments have me happily settling in for a read.
The Passion of the Purple Plumeria is tenth in the series and offers a standalone new adventure and romance in the historic timeline, but the players and overall series arc plus the ongoing contemporary time-line make it a ‘read in order’ series.
In the present time thread, Eloise only has two more months left to go to get answers for her dissertation before she needs to go back to America and in the meantime, Colin’s new step-dad, who is also his detestable cousin, strong arms them into a treasure hunt at Selwick for the lost Indian treasure of Behar. Clues in a few documents and an old gothic novel are supposed to lead them to the treasure. Eloise is intrigued by the author of the novel and how she fits into the Pink Carnation history.
Miss Gwen Meadows is a starchy, no nonsense seasonably mature woman who is outwardly a companion for Miss Jane Wooliston in Paris, but on the sly, she is part of Jane’s Pink Carnation spymistress work. She is good at her task and feels fulfillment as a companion with Jane who is like a daughter to her, but then everything changes.
Jane gets word her younger sister has gone missing from her school in Bath, so the pair rush to the school to pick up the trail and Gwen finds her cool, calm mind rattled by the charm of one retired Colonel back from India and looking for his missing daughter, as well. Reluctant allies it is and she doesn’t want to think about why she contemplates kissing the scar near his lip and fighting off unwanted attraction. Colonel William Reid is nothing but trouble and she’d rather depend on her trusted parasol with the hidden sword.
William Reid has finished up his long career in India. He’s back in England and thinks he’s set aside danger and adventure right up until his second son gets into trouble and his second daughter disappears from school. He really does need to find his daughter and the steely-eyed dragon of a woman, Miss Meadows is his best bet. If his secondary plan is to get Gwen to allow the passion he senses in her to come out and play, then he has a formidable task ahead.
The Passion of the Purple Plumeria returns once again to familiar figures for its leads. William Reid was a secondary character in The Betrayal of the Blood Lily and Gwen Meadows has been part of the Pink Carnation team from the beginning. I loved seeing an older couple get a chance to shine both on a mission and in romance. I confess I was curious how it would go with the rapier wit and caustic humor of Gwen with a rascally charmer like William. Let’s say I was cheering William on to get her to show a different facet of herself.
I also enjoyed how the author explored what it was like for two older people to face retirement. Gwen only slowly realizes this is what is happening and the fear of having to rely on others who might pity her and sink back into obscurity while William has been planning for it and is now looking to focus on family and home in England.
Like before, I found the modern thread more distraction than anything though it has gotten better since Eloise and Colin are together. I also thought it was fun that there were actual excerpts from Gwen’s book she was writing, The Convent of Orsino, that is a broad wink to gothic romances like what Jane Austen poked fun at in Northanger Abbey.
All in all, this was a satisfying surprise with an opposites attract older couple and a fun treasure hunt at the heart of both timelines. If one wants light spy intrigue, sparkling dialogue, and lusty fun historical romance then check out this series.
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