Friday, October 15, 2010

Book Review - Lauren Willig's The Seduction of the Crimson Rose

The Seduction of the Crimson Rose by Lauren Willig
Published by: New American Library
Publication Date: January 31st, 2008
Format: Paperback, 480 Pages
Challenge: Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy
Things aren't going very well for Mary Alsworthy. Her midnight elopement ended with a married younger sister and herself still on the shelf. Not that she really loved Geoff or anything, but the title and the houses were just the thing. Now she's stuck rusticating with the new couple who are sickeningly in love and oversolicitous of her. She might just be able to stomach it if they weren't so apologetic about the whole situation. But when she hears that they are going to pay for her next London season she can't take their kindness anymore. Lord Vaughn, at the urging of the Pink Carnation, has made Mary an offer. With her coloring and her bearing she appears to be just the type of girl a certain Black Tulip might hire as one of his assassins. After his recent foray in Ireland he is short a few petals. Mary agrees to play the game in exchange for one last chance at a suitable match. With Vaughn as her escort and entree to some of the more radical groups, she tries to establish herself as just the type of girl a famous French spy might seek out. From Vauxhall to Vaughn House, she tries to work her way in the world, all while trading barbs with the king of cynicism and insult, Lord Sebastian Vaughn himself. Mary does meet one eligible prospect, a Mr. St. George. But an earnest lord who spends much time rusticating looks less and less appealing next to the unattainable Vaughn. Mary would rather trade insults with Vaughn than words of endearment with St. George. Could it be that the ice maiden, who has always viewed her marriage as a commodity, where the best bank account wins, be falling for a man who turns out to be unattainable after the reappearance of his long dead wife? But matters of the heart might not signify if one of the hearts is no longer beating, because the Black Tulip doesn't hesitate to spill blood. Someone will die and a happy ending might not be in the cards. And while Eloise looks into Vaughn's past, could her present collide with Serena Selwick's heart breaker?

This is the book that made me fall irrevocably in love with this series. Mary and Vaughn are the perfect sparring partners. They duel with words in a way that is sheer entertainment and hasn't been seen since Elizabeth and Darcy. No saccharine and sweetness, we have barbed and witty repartee that just keeps the pages flying long through the night. They are what this series needed more than ever, a balance. Not all heroes are virtuous and good, not all are in it for the good of the country. Some heroes are just in it for themselves. If this book had one flaw, it's that once they start to fall for each other, their bark is worse than their bite. Their claws retract a little and it's never more enjoyable than when they are at each other full force. There are also no misunderstandings between the two. They have their obstacles, that's for sure, but they always know where the other one stands. They are a perfectly matched pair. I just hope that married life doesn't sweeten them one bit. But aside from the titular hero and heroine, we finally get a satisfactory conclusion to the identity of the Black Tulip, who is far more deranged, deluded and demented that we thought. With motivations that work for and against France, he was a nice surprise and not a simplistic ending to a plot device that has been going strong for three books. A satisfactory ending all around, even if just the tiniest bit of sweetness sneaks in at the end, but who can fault a happy ending?


Great review :) I always love learning when exactly, during reading a novel, one decides this is an exceptional series to be read over again! Which of course this series is a must :)

LOL! I think the first book made it a great series, this just confirmed it's status :P

I love Sebastian Vaughn--second only to Henrietta as my favorite character in the series. This book cemented my adoration of the Pink Carnation novels after the lackluster Emerald Ring book. Terrific review, thanks!

I love Vaughn too! I'm right now looking at getting a kitty and I almost got the kitty they named Vaughn just cause of his name... I might still be getting that kitty...

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