The Lure of the Moonflower–Lauren Willig

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NEW BOOK REVIEW ALERT!!!

This book is new. It’s been out less than two weeks. Usually I review books that have been out for a long time but not this time, baby. I’m on the new book train today.

This is the last book in the Pink Carnation series. If you are unaware of the Pink Carnation series, then…I’m sorry. They’re so much fun it’s ridiculous.

The basic premise of the books is that during the Napoleonic Wars, there is a series of spies modeled after the Scarlet Pimpernel. These books are mostly romances, but with mystery and adventure mixed in.

There’s also an ongoing story line set in modern times, where the main character is looking for the documents proving the spies existed.

Fun bonus: most of the spies are the women.

The Pink Carnation is Jane Wooliston, and she runs a spy network that encompasses a wide variety of people who by now, at the end of the series, are mostly related via a series of marriages with friends and relatives.

This last book concerns her own romance.

She’s in Portugal, working on the theory that the Portuguese Queen, Maria–who is most definitely not entirely sane–did not, in fact, flee to Brazil when the French invaded Portugal. It would not be a great thing for the French to get their hands on the Portuguese monarch. Her mission is to find the Queen and get her out of Portugal and ideally, to Brazil where she’s supposed to be anyway and would be safe.

Due to the aforementioned series of marriages and the unfortunate discovery of her role in British espionage by her French counterpart (a charming yet completely unethical man named Nicholas) she’s mostly on her own with almost no knowledge of Portuguese and a minimum of money. Her only ally is a contact that has already changed sides at least twice during these wars and is considered untrustworthy at best.

This man has the code name Moonflower, and is the half-British, half-Indian product of a British officer stationed in India. His ancestry bans him from service in his own country on either side, and he has a major chip on his shoulder.

But they work well together. They travel briefly with the French army until they encounter Nicholas and after that, they go by foot and donkey through the wilds of wintry Portugal until they locate the Queen. Who is, unfortunately, in the hands of the dastardly Nicholas.

There are twists. This is a bare summary. I’m trying to avoid spoilers. Work with me, people.

These books are fun, charming, and remarkably well researched. As a history buff myself, I appreciate the solid research and the list of recommended reading on the period that follow each book.

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