The Garden Intrigue
by Lauren Willig
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, book nine
Secret agent Augustus Whittlesby has spent a decade undercover in France, posing as an insufferably bad poet. The French surveillance officers can't bear to read his work closely enough to recognize the information drowned in a sea of verbiage.
New York-born Emma Morris Delagardie is a thorn in Augustus's side. An old school friend of Napoleon's stepdaughter, she came to France with her uncle, the American envoy; eloped with a Frenchman; and has been rattling around the salons of Paris ever since. Widowed for four years, she entertains herself by drinking too much champagne, holding a weekly salon, and loudly critiquing Augustus's poetry.
As Napoleon pursues his plans for the invasion of England, Whittlesby hears of a top-secret device to be demonstrated at a house party at Malmaison. The catch? The only way in is with Emma, who has been asked to write a masque for the weekend's entertainment.
Emma is at a crossroads: Should she return to the States or remain in France? She'll do anything to postpone the decision-even if it means teaming up with that silly poet Whittlesby to write a masque for Bonaparte's house party. But each soon learns that surface appearances are misleading. In this complicated masque within a masque, nothing goes quite as scripted- especially Augustus's feelings for Emma. (description from Amazon.com)
Oh, but do I love this series! It is wonderful historical fiction full of intrigue, romance, and strong characters both male and female. I have learned more about the dealings between England and France during this time period from Lauren Willig than I ever did in school...
I love the descriptions of the dresses, the parties, the social ettiquettes, and of course, the spy codes. I love seeing smart women not only assist, but often outsmart their male counterparts. I love it all.
This particular volume in the series not only continued the trend of great characters, but also showed a great glimpse into a fascinating period in Napolean Bonaparte's "career." It was so interesting to see what life would have been like as a part of his household while he became Emperor in France. I loved seeing the connections between the politics, the parties, and the inventions of the period.
As for the next book, I *cannot* wait to see what happens to Eloise and Colin as she finds her time in England drawing to a close. As always, their continuing story makes up all my absolute favorite bits in each book.
Full disclosure: ARC originally received from NetGalley.