The Masque of the Black Tulip

Can I admit that modern romances are a guilty pleasure I occasionally indulge? Most of the time I read them on online writing sites that I’m still a member of from way back in the day. My biggest problem with the “chick lit” genre is that the heroines aren’t always appealing, or that the first person perspective gets to whiny. After finishing The Masque of the Black Tulip, I can confirm that Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series really does have it all. Smart, flirty females who can trap both French spies and paramours, and look good in the process.

the masque of the black tulipWhile the Pink Carnation is continuing work in France, and Richard and his wife have begun their school for spies, Richard’s best friend Miles has just received news via the War Office that dangerous spy The Black Tulip is back on English soil. The trouble is, no one knows the spy’s identities or intentions, though recently-arrived Lord Vaughn certainly fits the dastardly stereotype. Richard’s younger sister Henrietta is determined to prove her worth to the organization, and sees no better way than to capture the spy herself. If Amy can do it, so can she. Of course, the couple’s latent attraction to each other might provide just enough distraction to be their downfall.

Ms. Willig writes the interactions between Miles and Hen perfectly. They are filled with witty repartee and fond longing at the same time. Though they get themselves into a fair number of scrapes, overall they have intelligence to survive and the grace to laugh about it afterwards. The book satisfies equally on all fronts: romance, suspense, and humor. I laughed aloud more than once, especially at Turnip Fitzhugh, who seems to have migrated from a P.G. Wodehouse novel.

Eloise’s modern day story is still brief compared to the historical narrative, but I was much more invested in it this time around. She came off as too much of an idiot in The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. Now, however, I dying to know if anything ever happens with her and Colin.

There are enough incidental characters planted that the series seems like it still has a long way to go (good thing I own the next three books). I also want to reread The Scarlet Pimpernel.

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Published in: on May 21, 2012 at 2:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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