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The Passion of the Purple Plumeria

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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 Gwendol 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…


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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 Gwendol 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…

30 review for The Passion of the Purple Plumeria

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Purple. The color of royalty. The hot color of red mingled with the cold color of blue. So appropriately the favored color of Miss Gwendolyn Meadows, middle-aged spinster, chaperone and assistant spy to Miss Jane Wooliston, AKA the Pink Carnation. She’ll never be mistaken for a queen but she is just that to a loveable rogue of a career officer, Colonel William Reid. Finally, in “Pink X,” we are introduced to a heroine and hero who prove you don’t always have to be young to experience the thrill Purple. The color of royalty. The hot color of red mingled with the cold color of blue. So appropriately the favored color of Miss Gwendolyn Meadows, middle-aged spinster, chaperone and assistant spy to Miss Jane Wooliston, AKA the Pink Carnation. She’ll never be mistaken for a queen but she is just that to a loveable rogue of a career officer, Colonel William Reid. Finally, in “Pink X,” we are introduced to a heroine and hero who prove you don’t always have to be young to experience the thrill of a breathless, reckless romance. This review assumes familiarity with the Pink Carnation series. My apologies if you are still “un-pinked.” Miss Gwen would command you to “do try and keep up.” What a time to leave Paris with rumors of an alliance forming between the Ottoman Sultan and Napoleon. It seems the Pink Carnation’s little sister, as well as Colonel Reid’s youngest daughter, have gone missing from Miss Climpson’s boarding school for young ladies in Bath, which precipitates the immediate departure of Miss Jane and Miss Gwen. Simultaneously, Colonel Reid retires from his military career in India to settle down in England with his two daughters and is blissfully unaware of his youngest daughter’s disappearance, along with Miss Wooliston’s younger sister. Just why they have gone missing might be their unwitting involvement with an ancient Indian treasure steeped in superstition known as the lost jewels of Berar. Two centuries later, Eloise and Colin are also beginning to believe that same treasure to be real and historical rumors place it somewhere on Colin’s ancestral estate of Selwick Hall. Mrs. Selwick-Alderly, who has given Eloise total access to the Selwick family history, promises to reveal what she knows of the treasure only if her nephew Colin and Grandson Jeremy work together. Easier said than done, Colin and Jeremy despise each other and Eloise is caught in the middle. She is also vacillating between staying in England with Colin or flying home to a teaching position at the “other Cambridge.” Two centuries earlier and thrown together out of necessity, Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid are polar opposites as they search for the missing school girls. The Colonel is ruggedly handsome, likeable and attentive. He could charm a basketful of cobras into submission where Miss Gwen would simply intimidate them for the same result. She is English to the core while he wonders what his late and exiled Scottish Jacobite parents would think of him on English soil. The more Miss Gwen tries to hold off the Colonel’s enthusiastic addresses with her caustic wit and chilling countenance the more her slumbering passion is aroused in his presence. In a beautiful moment, Colonel Reid discretely admires Miss Gwen as they ride together in a coach: “William snuck a glance at Gwen’s profile, the long line of her nose, the curve of her jaw, the surprisingly long sweep of her lashes, as black as her hair. She was all bundled up again, primly braided and buttoned, but he knew that beneath that stern exterior was a lifetime’s worth of adventure for the man brave enough to win her. If he could talk her to a standstill first. Or kiss her into confusion.” Each chapter begins with excerpts from Miss Gwen’s gothic novel, The Convent at Orsino, which she has been penning since first arriving in Paris. Each quote is a clever portent to that chapter. That very novel will be highly significant two centuries later for Eloise and Colin. The mysteries posed by this tale are non-stop: Selwick Hall appears to have been ransacked, but by whom? Has the Pink Carnation actually fallen in love? Is there finally some resolution (gasp) in the relationship between Eloise and Colin? Who is the shadowy foe of the Pink Carnation known only as “the gardener?” Will the partnership between Miss Jane and Miss Gwen be acrimoniously severed? Is Colonel Reid’s son Jack a spy or counter-spy? Who were the men who attacked the colonel and Miss Gwen working for? Are the lost jewels of Berar in India or England or just a myth? Along the way, Pink Carnation fanciers are treated to re-appearances by the infamous Hell-Fire club, Amy and Richard Selwick plus Henrietta and Miles Dorrington. While there is passion a-plenty between Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid, I waited patiently for something similar to happen between Colin and Eloise, but their relationship rolled on…..frustratingly too cool and clinical for this incurable romantic. It was late in the book before any sort of emotional heat was generated. However, I trust the author and assume she has something else planned out for these two, perhaps in Pink XI? The story works for me on many levels. The author’s format of shuttling the story between two eras is what makes the Pink Carnation series so absorbing. The December romance is refreshing, unexpected, and risky. I loved the glimpse behind the often comical side of Miss Gwen that reveals a tragic past and how those events color her world. Colonel Reid notwithstanding, it is really Miss Gwendolyn Meadow’s story and how beautifully the author lays bare this most misunderstood but loved heroine with perfect proportions of humor, sorrow and sensitivity. Is this my favorite Pink Carnation yet? I think so and I hope it is likewise for you too, dear readers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Book Riot Community

    A romp! A romp, I tells ye! This is the first Pink Carnation book I’ve read, and I was shocked by how easy it was to slip into this well-established series. It’s filled with action, romance, and plenty of swashbuckling, as a modern-day scholar and two 18th-century spies try to find a cache of priceless jewels. Although there was a lot going on (modern-day storyline, Gwen’s novel, the historical storyline), and I’m not sure 2/3rds of it was really necessary, it didn’t detract from the central sto A romp! A romp, I tells ye! This is the first Pink Carnation book I’ve read, and I was shocked by how easy it was to slip into this well-established series. It’s filled with action, romance, and plenty of swashbuckling, as a modern-day scholar and two 18th-century spies try to find a cache of priceless jewels. Although there was a lot going on (modern-day storyline, Gwen’s novel, the historical storyline), and I’m not sure 2/3rds of it was really necessary, it didn’t detract from the central story at all. I’ll definitely be picking up more books in this series, because swashbuckling ladies who meet their match and fall in love is my catnip. –Tasha Brandstatter from The Best Books We Read In June 2016: http://bookriot.com/2016/06/29/riot-r...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Caz

    I absolutely loved this book . I’m woefully behind on the Pink Carnation series, but I jumped at the chance to review this one, not least because it has rather a USP (Unique Selling Point) in the genre – namely that the hero and heroine are of more mature years (he’s fifty-four, she’s forty-five). That certainly wasn’t the only reason, however. Ms. Willig’s writing is intelligent and frequently humorous, her characters leap off the page and she spins a superb yarn. For anyone not familiar wi I absolutely loved this book . I’m woefully behind on the Pink Carnation series, but I jumped at the chance to review this one, not least because it has rather a USP (Unique Selling Point) in the genre – namely that the hero and heroine are of more mature years (he’s fifty-four, she’s forty-five). That certainly wasn’t the only reason, however. Ms. Willig’s writing is intelligent and frequently humorous, her characters leap off the page and she spins a superb yarn. For anyone not familiar with the series, most of the Pink Carnation novels follow a similar format : the modern-day story of American grad-student, Eloise Kelly, and her research into the network of nineteenth century British spies under the direction of the Pink Carnation, runs alongside the (fictional) historical events that make up the bulk of the narrative. I can’t deny that the format has its frustrations. I’d get to a point in the story set in 1805 where I was desperate to find out what happens next - and suddenly it was 2004 and I had to take a quick break from the characters I was coming to love in order to catch up with what was going on in “the other” story. Fortunately, however, Ms. Willig never makes her readers wait too long to get back to the action. In 2004, Eloise is moping about the fact that she will be returning to the US in two months. This is what she’s long planned to do, except that she’s now in a long-term relationship with Colin Selwick, a descendant of the families she has been researching. They are living at Selwick House in Sussex and Eloise’s research into the exploits of the Pink Carnation has stalled as she seems suddenly to have vanished from the face of the earth. There is no correspondence, there are no mentions of her in documents; so Eloise becomes sidetracked by the search for the Jewels of Berar, known to have disappeared during Wellington’s wars in India, and rumored to have been hidden at Selwick. In 1805, the Pink Carnation – otherwise known as Miss Jane Wooliston – receives the news that her sister, Agnes, has disappeared from school in the company of a schoolmate, one Lizzie Reid. Jane and her companion, Miss Gwen Meadows, a formidably sharp-tongued spinster, are living in Paris from where Jane runs her network of agents. Gwen has appeared in a many of the previous books and has a fearsome reputation for speaking her mind and not caring what anybody thinks of her. She’s prickly and doesn’t suffer fools gladly, yet she cares deeply for Jane and is committed to their cause of messing with Napoleon as often as possible. Jane believes it possible that Agnes may have been kidnapped by someone with a desire to neutralize the Pink Carnation, so she and Gwen return to England to discover what they can and try to find the girls. Also recently arrived in England is Colonel William Reid, late of the East India Company and Lizzie’s father. He has no idea that his daughter has gone missing until he arrives at her school in Bath. He is distraught and guilt-stricken – he hasn’t seen Lizzie for ten years, when he set her and her older sister, Kat, on the boat to England in order to protect them from harm in India – and he feels terrible that he has let so many years pass before seeking her out. Despite his seeming neglect, however, William loves his children dearly. Believing his daughters to be safe and secure in England, he remained in India for longer than he had intended, making do with the infrequent correspondence that was all there was to be had between England and India at the time. It doesn’t speak especially well of him, it’s true, and yet he is not a man to be anything other than brutally honest with himself once he realizes he has failed in his duty towards them, and I doubt that anyone could have blamed him to any greater degree than he blamed himself for their respective situations. While Gwen doesn’t take to William at first, it’s easy to see that it’s not because she actually dislikes him. Far from it. She’s unsettled by him – he doesn’t react to her by scurrying away with his tail between his legs as do so many men who have been on the receiving end of her scorn, but more than that, he pays attention to her rather than just suffering her company as the unfortunate consequence of wanting to associate with the beautiful Jane. Grudgingly, Gwen agrees that they should work together in order to find the girls, and they depart Bath for Bristol, to see what they can find out about their disappearance. It gradually becomes clear that there is more to this than the abduction that Jane had feared, and I think that this is where the modern-day story of the search for the Jewels of Berar worked best. By keeping the jewels to the forefront of the reader’s mind every few chapters, Ms. Willig was able to hint at their importance without overshadowing the story of the search for the missing girls, the potential threats to Jane at the hands of the mysterious French spymaster “The Gardener,” and the romance that was developing between William and Gwen. The sparks fly between them from the moment they meet, although Gwen tries to keep her distance with coolness and hauteur. But all the while, William is gradually wearing down her resistance, proving himself to be courageous and honorable as well as to have a wonderful sense of humor and no small degree of charm. Their relationship was the absolute star-turn of the book and shows that it is perfectly possible to craft a truly charming and engaging romance from a more mature standpoint. Both protagonists bring a trolley-load of emotional baggage with them, but theirs is a story about second chances, and very well deserved they are. Gwen’s back-story is particularly heart wrenching, but goes a long way toward explaining how and why this vital and intelligent woman became a waspish old-maid, her true self hidden beneath a veneer of testiness. There’s one point towards the end of the book when William is watching Gwen with her friends and family at dinner, which I thought was wonderfully observed: It was as though she had retreated into a plaster mold of herself, all the life, all the animation that had so captivated him, buried beneath a cold and brittle shell. That tremendous zest he had seen again and again diverted itself into haughty comments and cutting asides. And no one, no one in the room, seemed to find anything out of the ordinary in this. They smiled at one another and rolled their eyes as she cracked her wit at them, but not one of them noticed the pain beneath it. To anyone having difficulty imagining a romantic hero is in his fifties – is there anyone out there who can deny the obvious attractions of, say, George Clooney or Robert Downey Jr.? William Reid is not only a very handsome man, he’s a terribly attractive character, too – determined and strong but with a sweetness and vulnerability about him which only serve to increase his appeal. He’s far from perfect; he’s guilt-ridden over what happened to his daughters and about the state of his relationships with his three sons, but as Gwen realizes, she’s never met anyone who cares so deeply for others. The romance between Gwen and William is just one thread in a multi-faceted story which also features hints of a romantic relationship between Jane and her archenemy as well as the hunt for the jewels and the deepening emotions between Colin and Eloise in 2004. I thought it was a nicely humorous touch for each chapter to begin with a quote from Miss Gwen’s oft-mentioned gothic novel, The Convent of Orsino which eagle-eyed readers will recognize as a spoof of such stories as The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Castle of Otranto (and which, indeed Ms. Willig acknowledges as her inspirations in her author’s note). Each of the excerpts mirrors the action of the story, as the heroine, Plumeria and her companion, Sir Magnifico, seek to discover the whereabouts of his daughter, the lovely Amarantha. I was thoroughly caught up in the story of Gwen and her William and didn’t want it to end, even though I wanted them to get their HEA. I know there are a couple more books to come in this wonderful series, and I sincerely hope this isn’t the last we’re going to see of this pair.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Laura (Kyahgirl)

    2/5; 2 stars; DNF Usually I'll give a 'DNF' a 1 star but I think this author really deserves credit for having an older couple as the main love interest. You don't see that very often and I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. Ms. Willig is clearly an accomplished writer and it shows in the dialogue and descriptions. I also loved Kate Reading as the narrator of the story,she is fabulous. Unfortunately, those positives were not enough to make up for a loose and meandering plot, tedious scenes t 2/5; 2 stars; DNF Usually I'll give a 'DNF' a 1 star but I think this author really deserves credit for having an older couple as the main love interest. You don't see that very often and I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. Ms. Willig is clearly an accomplished writer and it shows in the dialogue and descriptions. I also loved Kate Reading as the narrator of the story,she is fabulous. Unfortunately, those positives were not enough to make up for a loose and meandering plot, tedious scenes that took forever to go anywhere, a miserable and nasty heroine and a deal breaking flaw in the hero's character. (view spoiler)[ Colonel Reid was shaping up to be such an admirable character and then, when he tracked down his elder daughter whom he had not seen for 10 years, and found she was not living in safety and comfort as he supposed but in poverty, degradation, and danger he essentially shrugged and abandoned her. He then spent many introspective moments over the coming days thinking of the lovely child she had been, how close they were, etc. Yet, when he saw her, he couldn't find it in himself to give her a hug and say 'what is going on here, how did this happen, and how can I put an end to it'. Nope, he just acted confused and glazed over. This section of the book destroyed the character for me and I lost interest in seeing how he redeemed himself, if indeed he did. (hide spoiler)] Another aspect of this book's 'style' that detracted from the experience was the intertwining of a present day story with the main story set in the 1800s. Colin, Eloise, and Jeremy were boring and their story did nothing but annoy me when it kept pulling me out of the main story. I stopped about 2/3 of the way through the audiobook. Perhaps if I had the novel in hand I could have skimmed my way through the rest of the book but its not worth it to me. to the track the book down to do that.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Megzy

    4.5 stars You are either going to love it or hate it. I always had a soft spot for Miss Gwen!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Em

    The Passion of the Purple Plumeria is the penultimate book in the Pink Carnation mystery series. While I enjoyed the previous two books in the series, I felt there was an odd disconnect between them and the earlier books. I think this is partly because 1) the historical mystery stories were set in France and 2) the main couples in the historical stories were brand new characters (except for Augustus Whittlesby, who was previously a very minor character). The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (I'm g The Passion of the Purple Plumeria is the penultimate book in the Pink Carnation mystery series. While I enjoyed the previous two books in the series, I felt there was an odd disconnect between them and the earlier books. I think this is partly because 1) the historical mystery stories were set in France and 2) the main couples in the historical stories were brand new characters (except for Augustus Whittlesby, who was previously a very minor character). The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (I'm going to call it The PPP from now one) on the other hand felt like the true return to the series. For starters, the story returns to the shores of England; but it also brings two previously-loved-characters to the forefront - Gwendolyn "Ms. Gwen" Meadows (the loyal chaperon of the Pink Carnation) and Colonel William Reid (patriarch of the Reid family in Betrayal of the Blood Lily). I really love that this book gives loyal readers of this series a good look at Ms. Gwen, who previously has been relegated the crotchety old lady comic-relief. Maybe it's because most of the other characters are so young in the series that I didn't realize until I read The PPP that Ms. Gwen isn't really that much older than myself. As someone who would probably be considered a spinster back in the 1800's, it really made me empathize with Ms. Gwen. You really get to see her vulnerability in this book. In terms of the romance in this book, I think Ms. Gwen and Colonel Reid may become one of my favorite couples in the series. The romance easily reminded me of the one between Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night, but this time we actually get to peak at what happens after Gabriel blows his horn. In terms of the modern side of the story, the book felt a little light on the happenings of Eloise and Collin, but when they do appear it's meaningful. While the stage is set for the story of the Pink Carnation to come to a climax, it's what happening between Eloise and Collin which is preparing the reader to come to the end of this series in one book. Frankly, much like Eloise and Collin, I am not ready to say to goodbye. I'm giving The PPP 5 stars and naming it one of my favorite books in the Pink Carnation series. p.s. I should add that my version of the book is the Audiobook, read by Kate Reading. I've always enjoyed her readings of the Pink Carnation series, although I do think that maybe the voice she used for Ms. Gwen is part of the reason why I originally assumed Ms. Gwen was so much older than I thought. <> While reading Lauren Willig's latest Teaser Tuesday blog entry, I found out that this isn't the penultimate book. The series is still winding down, but there is going to be another book in between The PPP and the final book. Can I just say that this makes me super psyched. This doesn't really change the opinions I expressed in my review (still sad that the series is still winding down, just not as fast) so I just decided to add this little bit of info as an update instead of rewriting it. Thanks! Emily

  7. 5 out of 5

    MB (What she read)

    Found both of these characters to be too heavy handed on the buffoonery side. Author seemed to intend them too much as figures of fun, and personally that grated on me the reader. Felt like Willig was treating them as clowns-- due to their 'advanced age' perhaps? Just a feeling--I felt they were disrespected. Miss Jane's sad backstory meant to make readers feel for her but then author goes back to using her as the comic element. Would much rather have seen this story handled touchingly with real Found both of these characters to be too heavy handed on the buffoonery side. Author seemed to intend them too much as figures of fun, and personally that grated on me the reader. Felt like Willig was treating them as clowns-- due to their 'advanced age' perhaps? Just a feeling--I felt they were disrespected. Miss Jane's sad backstory meant to make readers feel for her but then author goes back to using her as the comic element. Would much rather have seen this story handled touchingly with real emotional impact like Loretta Chase's "Not Quite a Lady" or to have Miss Gwen treated as worthy of respect yet hilarious like Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody. Btw, was Gwen intended to imitate Amelia? Problem is that readers laugh with Amelia and at Gwen. (Sorry, hard to explain my train of thought. Hope this somewhat makes sense.) Spoilers follow. Skip if you don't like that. I had one major problem with the hero which made me furiously angry and dropped this down a star: Why, when he found his daughter 1) living in abject poverty in a slum, 2) taking in washing to survive, 3) the only means of support for an invalid aging grandmother, does the man not bother to leave her any money or arrange to care for her financially?!? What kind of idiot does that? He offers to put her up at an inn, but when she refuses (he hasn't thought it through or made any real plans), he just takes off. He feels guilty, yes. But there's no follow-up nor does he seem to think much about her again or make any plans to care for her in the future. Even Miss Gwen, who has experience of living on the edge of poverty on her relative's charity doesn't seem to think of helping out. They just both go merrily off on their adventures. Frankly, this made them both come off as thoughtless twits. No mention was made ever that they went back and fixed their messes to my knowledge. What the hell?!? I was utterly flabbergasted by this! As if I'd hit a brick wall. I never regained my respect for both of them after that point. Thinking about the real life consequences of a woman living in poverty at that time, as well as for a young woman wandering around the countryside. I felt Willig really missed the mark. Instead, it was all light-hearted adventure..."Oh dear, oh dear! We should worry about them but let's go chase spies and romance each other instead...!" WHAT THE HELL! WHERE ARE YOUR PRIORITIES?!? I seriously wanted to bang the character's heads together! Okay: rant over.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)

    Colonel William Reid is retiring to England to live out his life in leisure with his two daughters, Kat and Lizzy, leaving behind three very different, one very difficult, sons in India. Little does he know that the school in Bath that Lizzy has been attending, Miss Climpson's Academy, seems to be the epicenter of spies in the battle between the French and the English. For two years Miss Gwendolyn Meadows has been at the center of that fight, or slightly next to the center wielding a dangerous p Colonel William Reid is retiring to England to live out his life in leisure with his two daughters, Kat and Lizzy, leaving behind three very different, one very difficult, sons in India. Little does he know that the school in Bath that Lizzy has been attending, Miss Climpson's Academy, seems to be the epicenter of spies in the battle between the French and the English. For two years Miss Gwendolyn Meadows has been at the center of that fight, or slightly next to the center wielding a dangerous parasol as the second in command to Britain's chief operative, The Pink Carnation, aka, Jane Wooliston. She has ostensibly been the dragonish chaperone of Jane while they lived in France with Jane's cousin. Jane has received a missive from her family that finds Jane and Gwen on the steps of Miss Climpson's just as Colonel Reid arrives. As fate would have it, these three must unit in their cause because Jane's sister, Agnes, has gone missing along with Colonel Reid's daughter Lizzy. William doesn't grasp the seriousness of this, thinking it's just girls being girls. Jane knows that this is probably not the case. Somehow Agnes and therefore Lizzy's disappearance has to do with Jane's subversive activities. When William and Gwen are attacked while inquiring after Lizzy with his other daughter Kat, he comes to see that his little girl is truly in danger. He might have not been the best parent so far, but he was going to fix that. Though the reason for the girls disappearance might just not be Jane's fault and might actually be tangled up with William's most dubious of children, Jack, and not Jane at all... or at least not directly. Rumors are that, besides playing for both the French and the English, Jack has also made off with the famous jewels of Berar... the jewels which are rumored to have been sent to his little sister. This means that they aren't the only ones looking for the girls. That most dangerous of French spies, The Gardener, is also on their trail. Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series is like the ultimate comfort read, like watching The Princess Bride mixed with Bridget Jones's Diary. There's "fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles"... well, maybe not giants, monsters, or fencing per se, but there is Miss Gwen with a rapier parasol, and Lizzy Reid with a bow and arrow, and Lizzy alone is just as dangerous as those three things together. The release of yet another book in this series brings joy to my heart which was tripled when I realized that The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (an alliteration worthy of Gwen's lurid prose) was yet again raising the bar of this series. To have a long running series, ten books and counting, and to have each entry just as fresh and alive is a fete that Lauren needs a round of applause for. Yet in this installment we have a character we have loved since day one and who has been desperately demanding her own book, seriously, ask Lauren, Miss Gwen said her book was next and so it was. Miss Gwen has always been a pillar of strength and fortitude. Ready to take down the French with an arch look or a well placed parasol to shin or other vulnerable body parts. We have seen this hilarious yet adept spy trailing behind The Pink Carnation, almost as an accessory to Jane. It is as if Gwen herself was Jane's multifunctional parasol weapon. In The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, we see that the reserve that Jane has always exhibited doesn't exclude Gwen. Gwen is just as in the dark as other agents, just hoping that in lying to herself, that she has found a place where she belongs, working beside Jane. Holding on to the dream that her life has purpose and that this work will continue. Lauren brings such depth to Gwen, showing that while she is strong and kicks ass at her job, there's a vulnerability. Gwen could lose Amy and therefore lose her calling. Beneath the gruff exterior Gwen really does have a gooey center. Yet in revealing Gwen's weaknesses, in showing us her painful history, Lauren doesn't take away anything, Gwen can be both vulnerable and strong. Like a parasol, something light and frilly, but with a hidden sword in the shaft. Gwen is just simply remarkable, "beneath that stern exterior was a lifetime's worth of adventure for the man brave enough to win her." What we see in Gwen's past sins and also in the destitute life that William's daughter Kat is living, is a different world from the one we are used to in this series. Up until now, any people from lower classes, which weren't that numerous, were always seen in the setting of the world of prosperity. Laura Grey was a governess in a Parisian home, Arabella Dempsey is a teacher at the aforementioned Miss Climpson's Academy, and Letty Alsworthy's family is just a little hard up. Yet they are still in the sphere of influence. They are not in the gutter or in crummy little houses taking in laundry to just get by. Yet these people existed. The children out of wedlock, the family scraping by, these are incidents straight out of Jane Austen that are there, pushed into the corners but never talked about, not really. Here Lauren tackles that to some degree, and in doing so, she has made her world more whole. Every level of humanity makes up the world and in showing us something not quite pleasant there is a satisfying feeling of completion. And in speaking of completion... how many more books till the end? Lauren has often said that this series would be ending soon with Jane's book, yet characters are always speaking up and demanding their own book, ie Sally Fitzhugh coming out next year I hope. I personally would be happy to see this go on for quite some time, as long as Lauren's writing the Pink Carnation series, I will read it. Yet, with her first stand alone, The Ashford Affair, you can see that Lauren has considerable talent and a lot more to offer and that to keep her churning out this series is unfair to her as a writer, I mean, the series does have it's limitations with time period and historical authenticity. But with her second stand alone coming next year, perhaps a happy medium will be reached. Yet one does feel that in the final pages of this book there is a big game changer at the hands of The Gardner. The Passion of the Purple Plumeria does lend itself to flipping the page to the final chapter of The Pink Carnation's story. A final chapter that will be bittersweet.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen

    Yay, Miss Gwen gets a book! One thing I have enjoyed about this series is seeing minor characters develop into major ones. This installation is a great example as Miss Gwen, fearsome chaperone and wielder of a vicious parasol, steps onto the main stage. I liked the way Willig approached this story. Miss Gwen is past 40, not the early 20s of Jane and her friends. So there was some backstory that needed to be explained, as well as an opportunity to comment on social options for spinsters in Regenc Yay, Miss Gwen gets a book! One thing I have enjoyed about this series is seeing minor characters develop into major ones. This installation is a great example as Miss Gwen, fearsome chaperone and wielder of a vicious parasol, steps onto the main stage. I liked the way Willig approached this story. Miss Gwen is past 40, not the early 20s of Jane and her friends. So there was some backstory that needed to be explained, as well as an opportunity to comment on social options for spinsters in Regency times. I also enjoyed the way the plot tied in multiple players: the Reid family, Miles, Henrietta, Amy and Richard making cameo appearances. Most of all, I liked the idea of starting a new chapter, which is something that Gwen and Jane have in common. This time, the "modern" story took a backseat. I really don't care about the Jeremy/Colin conflict, and found the resolution to their mystery to be a little too easy. Overall, a great addition to the series. Cheers to Willig, and I'm looking forward to seeing what she does next.

  10. 4 out of 5

    The Lit Bitch

    I don’t know why but I always seem to go into the later Pink Carnation books with a preconceived notion of the romance. With the last book, I was so not looking forward to it but found it was one of the more enjoyable ones! So one would think that I would keep an open mind. But I didn’t. I was not really looking forward to an ‘old person romance’ in this book…not that I’m a spring chicken mind you but still…something about Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid just didn’t scream sexy to me. In my mind, Miss G I don’t know why but I always seem to go into the later Pink Carnation books with a preconceived notion of the romance. With the last book, I was so not looking forward to it but found it was one of the more enjoyable ones! So one would think that I would keep an open mind. But I didn’t. I was not really looking forward to an ‘old person romance’ in this book…not that I’m a spring chicken mind you but still…something about Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid just didn’t scream sexy to me. In my mind, Miss Gwen is this old lady chaperone with pursed lips and grey hair while Colonel Reid seemed like this rough around the edges ladies man with grey hair….both charming in their own right but not anyone that I would fancy reading a romance about. I am continually shocked with Willig’s ability to make me love her romances in spite of myself and my preconceived notions. Mind blown. While this book had the same hallmarks that Willig is known for, it read a little differently for me. Most of the books up until now were all whimsey, dashing spies, and easily conquered villains who had a code more of less. There was never a time in the series that I felt like the heroines or heroes were in any real danger. With this book I feel like shit just got real. With the two girls missing, Jane all of a sudden realizes that her a little ‘game’ isn’t such a game after all but a real danger with real consequences. Not that I think she didn’t know that but I think the disappearance of her sister left its mark and impression on her and Miss Gwen as well. I am just going to say upfront, that Jane has been my least favorite character throughout the series. I never feel like I ever warmed up to her and she never really endeared herself to me and in this book I like her even less. I completed the book with a bad taste in my mouth for her. More on Jane in my future reviews of this series so stay tuned. Even though Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid seemed like an unlikely romance, I loved watching it unfold. We got to know Miss Gwen on such a personal level and it was touching to see her for the gem that she is under all that pomp and gusto. I loved that Colonel Reid was able to really strip her down and identify her weaknesses as well as how others viewed her was so wonderfully touching and inspiring. I loved their conversations and watching them come together in unexpected ways. I also loved their easy banter. Sure it’s nice to read flowery prose and sweet nothings but there is something about sharp pointed wit and dressing down that I can’t resist. To me it seems so much more real than the stuff of poetry and romances. This book was such a great installment with two memorable characters that I cannot wait to see in future books. While each of Willig’s books are great in their own ways, there are some romances that are more memorable than others and this is one of them. See my full review here

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jazmin

    This was sweet! I really liked how we got to know a lot about Gwen and how her attitude is largely due to her circumstances and it's become an armor for her - as well as her connection with Jane as the head of the Pink Carnation league that was actually quite a sucker punch in making me really root for Gwen. I did like how William and Gwen complimented each other in their whole time trying to find Agnes and Lizzy, and I love how Lizzy approved Gwen because she'd get her a sword parasol and teach This was sweet! I really liked how we got to know a lot about Gwen and how her attitude is largely due to her circumstances and it's become an armor for her - as well as her connection with Jane as the head of the Pink Carnation league that was actually quite a sucker punch in making me really root for Gwen. I did like how William and Gwen complimented each other in their whole time trying to find Agnes and Lizzy, and I love how Lizzy approved Gwen because she'd get her a sword parasol and teach her how to shoot. It was unexpectedly sweet, and the angle with Eloise and Colin trying to navigate their relationship with Eloise about to return to the states and helping him deal with Jeremy was neat. I also really liked that bit about how Jeremy felt an outside but his actions were, uh, certainly not the choice I'd expected if he wanted familial approval. The treasure hunting together was also hilarious, and the fact that Gwen became a novelist is the best.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    3.5-4 stars Miss Gwen has always been the starched, staunch, sharp-tongued and sharp-witted chaperone to Jane. She's been in the shadows of Jane and the "younger" set so far in the Pink Carnation series. Well, in this book, Miss Gwen has her day and meets her match! And I have to say that I ADORE that Miss Gwen's match is a Scot! Jane's younger sister is missing from her young ladies' finishing school, and with the Gardiner (the latest French spymaster) breathing down Jane's neck, it's time to pu 3.5-4 stars Miss Gwen has always been the starched, staunch, sharp-tongued and sharp-witted chaperone to Jane. She's been in the shadows of Jane and the "younger" set so far in the Pink Carnation series. Well, in this book, Miss Gwen has her day and meets her match! And I have to say that I ADORE that Miss Gwen's match is a Scot! Jane's younger sister is missing from her young ladies' finishing school, and with the Gardiner (the latest French spymaster) breathing down Jane's neck, it's time to pull out of France for awhile. Jane's also concerned that the Gardiner might have captured and kidnapped Agatha (Jane's sister) and her friend, Lizzy, as a way to get to Jane and the Pink Carnation. Lizzy is the half-caste illegitimate, but claimed, daughter of Col William Reid, who spent most of his military career in India. Col. Reid is retired, finally, and returned to Britain to put his family back together - or at least return to his two daughters, Kitty (by his 1st and only wife) and Lizzy. Miss Gwen and Col. Reid meet during the hunt for Agatha and Lizzy, and the two embark on an adventure that takes them to Bath. Col. Reid is a few years older than Miss Gwen, but he's her match in every way, including his witty repartee. But we learn a few of Miss Gwen's secrets along the way, including the heartbreak that makes her wary of men and love. One of the funniest and best scenes takes place after a lively scene at the opera. Miss Gwen and Col. Reid find themselves in an underground (literally and figuratively) Hellfire Club meeting. The opium smoke and the licentious scene they witness has them both in such a state, that they push caution to the wind and ravish each other backstage at the opera house. The main gist of the novel is that a former French spy by the name of Moonflower has defected, and he's absconded with the jewels of Berar, including a stone reported to provide special powers to the one who possesses it. Something that the Gardiner and Napoleon badly want. The missing girls figure into the plot, as well as Col. Reid and his interesting collection of sons and daughters. And, of course, Jane is very much a part of the whole thing, too. Miss Gwen comes to realize that as essential as she feels to the Pink Carnation and the cause, she's pushed her own life back in favor of society and then the cause. She's only really lived in the past 2 years, and she's shocked and hurt by Jane's admission that even Miss Gwen doesn't know everything. But can Miss Gwen give her heart away and trust a man to help her find a new life - perhaps the one she'd dreamt in her younger years? Meanwhile, in 2004, Colin and Jeremy are forced to work together by Mrs. Selwick-Alderly, who tells them she's ill. And she's sick of their rivalry. She gets Eloise's help to force them to try to find the lost Moonstone, one of the jewels of Berar, supposedly hidden at Selwick Castle. But Colin isn't so sure that they can find something that years worth of ancestors have searched for and never found - or did they? We also learn a new branch of the Selwick family tree as the two times converge at the end. ============= Overall, a good story made even better because it features Miss Gwen. Although, I wish there was some sort of ancestral tree or cast of characters and relationships somewhere to consult. It gets confusing trying to remember who's who in this story, both past and present, during the gap in publishing. But Ms. Willig delivers, as always, and leaves the door open (again) for the continuing saga.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I WAS SURPRISINGLY INTO THIS. Not necessarily for the actual romance in it, though I thought that was well done. But more, I was into it for where I think the rest of the series could be going now. So let's discuss. 1) Colonel Reid/Miss Gwen was actually pretty fantastic. I liked the additional information we got as to how Miss Gwen became Miss Gwen, and how their pasts shaped the relationship they were having in the present. I would be/am into reading more of them in the future installments. 2) Th I WAS SURPRISINGLY INTO THIS. Not necessarily for the actual romance in it, though I thought that was well done. But more, I was into it for where I think the rest of the series could be going now. So let's discuss. 1) Colonel Reid/Miss Gwen was actually pretty fantastic. I liked the additional information we got as to how Miss Gwen became Miss Gwen, and how their pasts shaped the relationship they were having in the present. I would be/am into reading more of them in the future installments. 2) There really wasn't any Sally Fitzhugh which makes me even more confused about the decision to give her her own book, because right now I would MUCH rather read something about Lizzy or Kat Reid, especially Kat who was presented as something I wasn't expecting at all. 3) JACK REID. JACK REID FOR DAYS. Oh man, if I don't get Jane/Jack Reid now I am going to be CRUSHED (more on this later when I get to Jane herself), but just, everything we found out about Jack by proxy in this book was AMAZING. He's paying Lizzy's school fees! He sends his sisters regular presents! I feel like there's no way we get that much of him without him even being there in this one if he doesn't come back. That can't happen, right? And Lauren Willig wouldn't waste him on Sally Fitzhugh, would she? Please, please say no. 4) MILES DORRINGTON. Haha, everything about that scene at the Loring family abode was GREAT. Cameos by Miles and Hen are my favorite forever. 5) And then there's Jane. So, I've been struggling with her character for awhile now, but after this one it is extremely clear that she's being set up to be deliberately unlikable. Those confrontations between her and Miss Gwen were PAINFUL to read, but read really true. I'm curious to see where she goes in the (theoretical) remaining two books. I think it will be hard work to make her a believable romantic heroine, but I think it's probably possible. A lot of it probably hinges on the hero, who has to either be the Chevalier or Jack, right? There's too much development tied up in those two unattached male characters for it not to be one of them. My preference is obviously Jack, but I can see a possibility where it could be the Chevalier and I would be into it. But don't do that. Make it Jack. TALK TO ME.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    I have long been a Pink Carnation series fan...and hearing the next in the series was going to be about Miss Gwen, I'll admit I had reservations. I just didn't know how she'd work her magic. Boy was I WROnG!! This is now one of my favorites in the series! This tale involving primarily Miss Gwen, Jane, & Colonel Reid is enchanting. I loved hearing Miss Gwen's story and seeing her bloom. There are many revelations involving multiple characters you won't want to miss!! I'm already looking forward to I have long been a Pink Carnation series fan...and hearing the next in the series was going to be about Miss Gwen, I'll admit I had reservations. I just didn't know how she'd work her magic. Boy was I WROnG!! This is now one of my favorites in the series! This tale involving primarily Miss Gwen, Jane, & Colonel Reid is enchanting. I loved hearing Miss Gwen's story and seeing her bloom. There are many revelations involving multiple characters you won't want to miss!! I'm already looking forward to next year's book. A must-read for any Pink Carnation fan. Trust me when I say this one does not disappoint:)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sharlene

    I loved this book. It was a fun read with plenty of suspense and humor and a delightful love story intertwined.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    No surprise...I knew I would love Miss Gwen's story:) No surprise...I knew I would love Miss Gwen's story:)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    As we head toward to end of this series, there are still several people who are unmatched and one of those is Miss Gwen Meadows. The chaperone for the Pink Carnation in her ordinary guise, Gwen considers herself long on the shelf. She has perfected the governess demeanor. She wasn't prepared for Col. William Reid. Col. Reid is newly retired. He sent his children to England after their mother had died because he knew India wasn't safe for them. But now he wants them back. Only his youngest isn't As we head toward to end of this series, there are still several people who are unmatched and one of those is Miss Gwen Meadows. The chaperone for the Pink Carnation in her ordinary guise, Gwen considers herself long on the shelf. She has perfected the governess demeanor. She wasn't prepared for Col. William Reid. Col. Reid is newly retired. He sent his children to England after their mother had died because he knew India wasn't safe for them. But now he wants them back. Only his youngest isn't at the exclusive girl's school he sent her and neither is the Pink Carnation's sister. While the Pink Carnation is following up on the elusive Moonflower, Gwen and William are following the path of the missing girls. With interludes in the present where Eloise is starting to wrap things up in England planning on returning to the States and wondering what that means for her and Colin, this is an excellent and entertaining entry in the Pink Carnation series and excellently narrated by Kate Reading who made the story extra enchanting.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Great intertwined stories of past and present intrigue.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Antonia Mauro

    Now that I've been invited into the Reid family, and their adventures around the world in espionage during the time of Bonaparte, I am overwhelmed by the twists in this book. Who knew, Miss Gwen! So uplifting! Thank you, Lauren Willig for writing about love over age 45! More!!! Now that I've been invited into the Reid family, and their adventures around the world in espionage during the time of Bonaparte, I am overwhelmed by the twists in this book. Who knew, Miss Gwen! So uplifting! Thank you, Lauren Willig for writing about love over age 45! More!!!

  20. 5 out of 5

    JG (Introverted Reader)

    In the tenth installment of the Pink Carnation series, Jane and Miss Gwen find themselves back in England, searching for Jane's younger sister, Agnes, and her friend, Lizzy. They were in school at Miss Climpson's Select Seminary for Young Ladies, a locale that featured prominently in another Pink Carnation book, The Mischief of the Mistletoe. Jane is afraid that someone has discovered her secret and is using poor, dull Agnes as a means to get to her. Shortly after arriving on the scene to begin In the tenth installment of the Pink Carnation series, Jane and Miss Gwen find themselves back in England, searching for Jane's younger sister, Agnes, and her friend, Lizzy. They were in school at Miss Climpson's Select Seminary for Young Ladies, a locale that featured prominently in another Pink Carnation book, The Mischief of the Mistletoe. Jane is afraid that someone has discovered her secret and is using poor, dull Agnes as a means to get to her. Shortly after arriving on the scene to begin their investigation, Lizzy's father, Colonel William Reid, shows up. He's just arrived home from India and has no idea that his daughter is missing. The Colonel, Miss Gwen, and Jane search for the girls, hoping to find them before any harm befalls them. Oh my. I did not ever, in my wildest dreams, expect a book about Miss Gwen! What a hoot! Somehow, I'd decided that she was at least 70. She's actually only about 45. And an attractive 45 at that, if you can get past the fierce way she wields her parasol in defense of Jane's virtue. I'm so glad she got her own story though. I've always thought that she was pretty one-dimensional in a series that is full of so many great, unique characters. Don't get me wrong--I've always liked her--but she's mean and fierce and loves espionage and that's pretty much all I needed to know about Miss Gwen. Except that there's so much more. We learn about her past and what exactly happened to her to leave her such a confirmed, man-hating spinster. She has a huge heart that's been severely wounded and she's doing her best as a single woman in a man's world. She deserves a little happiness. And that's where Colonel Reid comes in. He's very dashing with his Scottish/American accent and has very stern ideas about honor. He also has very loose ideas about love. As Jacqueline Carey would phrase it, his personal motto could be, "Love as thou wilt." But he loves responsibly, which has left him caring for five children. He does his best by them, even though other "gentlemen" don't recognize their half-Indian offspring. He is as much of a match for Miss Gwen's sharp tongue as any man can possibly be. She always gets the last word, of course, but he holds his own. I was so afraid that I would be disappointed when I realized this one was going to be about Miss Gwen. Who could possibly live up to her? But I finished it happy and satisfied. I'm getting worried about Jane, though. The pressures of leading the League of the Pink Carnation are starting to take a toll on her. And then there are Eloise and Colin in 2004. They don't seem to be getting anywhere. For my taste, their chapters could be left out completely. I know they have to be written because that's how the whole series is framed but they really aren't doing anything for me now. It's just moving along so slowly! Kate Reading did an excellent job with the narration, as always. I adore this series. It's one of my guilty pleasures. If you haven't started it, fix that now. It is romantic, but it's also funny and clever. Highly recommended.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Wow, I knew this one was going to be a great historical read, but I had no idea there would be mystery and secret spies involved. Instead of the same old historical romance, this book had much more intrigue, secrets, and, of course, a steamy romance. Colonel William Reid has returned from India in hopes of settling down with his children, but he doesn't expect to find his youngest daughter missing with one of her classmates. Lucky for William, the classmate just so happens to be the sister of th Wow, I knew this one was going to be a great historical read, but I had no idea there would be mystery and secret spies involved. Instead of the same old historical romance, this book had much more intrigue, secrets, and, of course, a steamy romance. Colonel William Reid has returned from India in hopes of settling down with his children, but he doesn't expect to find his youngest daughter missing with one of her classmates. Lucky for William, the classmate just so happens to be the sister of the secret spy the Pink Carnation. Along with the Carnation comes her guardian Gwen, who will do anything to protect her country and the two innocent girls caught in the middle of a dangerous game. The girls, though, aren't the only thing on Gwen and William's mind as they spend more and more time together. They're both in for an adventure they definitely weren't expecting... Like I said, this book was so much more than I was expecting. First, it starts out in the present day, which really threw me off. But the present day is about a couple searching for missing jewels and researching about the lives of our historical cast of characters. Then, it switches to the historical storyline where the spying and espionage comes into play. And you know what the best part is? The women are the kick-butt spies. And their gadgets are sweet! They have knives hidden in parasols and fans, and you have no idea what they'll pull out in their next fight (yes, there are actually multiple intriguing fights). Not only was there actions and mystery, but the romance was more than enough to please me. I love how Gwen and William bicker so much, and yet their chemistry is completely undeniable. I also loved Gwen's character and how stubborn she is, but still caring and vulnerable on the inside. Overall, Lauren Willig's newest novel offers so much more than a simple historical read. I had no idea that there are 9 other books before this one in the Pink Carnation series, but I'd love to get my hands on them! Even if you're like me who hasn't read the other books in the series, this one can definitely be read as a stand-alone. And once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down until you figure out who the bad guys are and just where the missing jewels have been hiding for the past 200 years...

  22. 4 out of 5

    My Book Addiction and More MBA

    If you’re into the spy-romance type novel, then this one’s for you! With action packed adventures, treasure hunting, and spy intrigue, this novel is sure to entertain. William Reid returns home ready to greet his children after many years apart, only to find that his youngest has gone missing, along with her roommate. Thrown into a search for his daughter with Gwendolyn Meadows, a spinster chaperone, he finds that he is incredibly drawn to her. When they are followed and attacked not once, but t If you’re into the spy-romance type novel, then this one’s for you! With action packed adventures, treasure hunting, and spy intrigue, this novel is sure to entertain. William Reid returns home ready to greet his children after many years apart, only to find that his youngest has gone missing, along with her roommate. Thrown into a search for his daughter with Gwendolyn Meadows, a spinster chaperone, he finds that he is incredibly drawn to her. When they are followed and attacked not once, but twice, he gets the feeling that there is more to Ms. Meadows than meets the eye. Can William and Gwen find love amidst the drama and deceit? Will they be able to find the girls and unravel the mystery behind their disappearance? A very well written novel with a detailed plot and excellent character definition. Gwen’s hardened, chaperone character is a joy to read with all her harsh tones and no nonsense dialogue, until she meets William. Then she transforms into a fun, passionate character that is vulnerable and caring. William’s character is more stable, but very likable and relatable. Together, they have a fun, witty romance mixed in with the danger and action expected in a spy novel. I enjoyed reading The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, however, I very much wish I had read some of the other novels that came before this one. Throughout this novel, I was very aware that I was missing key background information that was delivered in previous books in the series. While the story of Gwen and William was very well written and explained, other supporting characters and the underlying plot of the series is continued through this book and it was very obvious to me that this book was not meant to be a stand-alone read. I will definitely be going back to read some of the other novels in the Pink Carnation Series, as this book was a fun, captivating read. If you’ve read other books in the Pink Carnation Series by Lauren Willig, then I would definitely recommend that you read this one too! This book was received from the publisher for the purposes of an honest review. Rating: 4 Heat Rating: Sweet Reviewed by: AprilP Review Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More

  23. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It's been a while since I read - or listened - to a Pink Carnation book, but I had to see what kind of happily ever after ending the author had in store for Miss Gwen. I admit, I'd sort of grown tired of the series, but I'm so glad I revisited it, for it was a lot of fun! Plus, I'm thrilled she brought back William Reid, Alex's father, who we met in The Betrayal of the Blood Lily in India. I was very intrigued by his character, albeit on the older side (red hair, Scottish accent, a Scottish High It's been a while since I read - or listened - to a Pink Carnation book, but I had to see what kind of happily ever after ending the author had in store for Miss Gwen. I admit, I'd sort of grown tired of the series, but I'm so glad I revisited it, for it was a lot of fun! Plus, I'm thrilled she brought back William Reid, Alex's father, who we met in The Betrayal of the Blood Lily in India. I was very intrigued by his character, albeit on the older side (red hair, Scottish accent, a Scottish Highlander? Was there any doubt?) At age 54 he's just about the right age for Miss Gwen at age 45. They make a great pair as they join up together to find his missing daughter, Lizzy, and Jane's younger sister, Agnes who both attend school at the infamous Miss Climpson's Select Seminary for Young Ladies in Bath. Both have gone missing, and Jane suspects it could be related to her Pink Carnation activities. Here we find out about Miss Gwen's background and she finally comes into her own. I do wonder about William's lack of interest in his elder daughter, Cat, who he finds out is living in poverty, doing washing and taking care of her invalid grandmother. Doesn't he even send her some money? We never hear about them again! Instead, we learn to like Miss Gwen (though she does her best to dissuade us!) I'm very happy for her and her HAE while looking for lost Indian jewels. Glad to see some old friends, like Richard and Amy and Miles and Henrietta! Now with Eloise and Colin on the modern-day front - more of the same with the obnoxious cousin Jeremy. They too are looking for the famed jewels, believed to be somewhere in Selwick Hall and Eloise is miserable at the thought she's going to have to go back to Harvard and good-bye to Colin without any definite words of love. If only they'd talk about their feelings with one another! I get my wish by the end though. :) Kate Reading's narration doesn't do either of them any favors, I'm afraid. She's great with the historical side, but her modern voices for them make them sound soooo drippy! Looking forward to the next in the series... 3.5/5

  24. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    I have been following the Pink Carnation series since its very beginning and I have to say that this was among my favourites! I enjoyed getting to learn more about Miss Gwen from her own perspective (and from Col. Reid who found her trademark prickliness to be endearing.) I'll be honest and say that while I adore Ms. Willig and her series, I struggled to get into "The Garden Intrigue" and so I'm thrilled to once again find that spark in her books. Plumeria was the type that before I was aware of I have been following the Pink Carnation series since its very beginning and I have to say that this was among my favourites! I enjoyed getting to learn more about Miss Gwen from her own perspective (and from Col. Reid who found her trademark prickliness to be endearing.) I'll be honest and say that while I adore Ms. Willig and her series, I struggled to get into "The Garden Intrigue" and so I'm thrilled to once again find that spark in her books. Plumeria was the type that before I was aware of it, I had churned through 100 pages. The banter between Gwen and Reid was highly entertaining and had me chuckling throughout. A lot is revealed in this book not the least significant being why Miss Gwen was as prickly as she was which made the ending all the more sweet. Overall, I can see that the threads of the series in terms of the Pink Carnation plot seem to be winding their way to a close. (Though I am really happy that Willig changed her mind and is not ending the series in the next book.) I'm hoping that we can see Lizzy Reid (and maybe Agnes Wooliston as well?) find their happy endings before it all closes. As for the modern story, of Eloise and Colin it continues to progress--and I loved the twist at the end revealing the identity of Plumeria. I've learned more about Colin's family and part of me has almost started to *gasp* feel bad for Jeremy. I will be interested to read how Colin and Eloise will deal with the difficulties of a cross-continental relationship. If you have been a fan of Willig's books for a while this one does not disappoint! (And even if you are not, this is they type of book that you can pick up and have a general idea of what has been going on in the Pink universe prior to the events in the book.) It is definitely a must-read!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Angelc

    3.5 Stars Lauren Willig's books are always great, so even though this one wasn't my favorite of hers, it was still a good, entertaining read. I think my biggest hurdle with the book was William. Usually, Willig makes me fall head over heels for her love interests, even though her books aren't truly "romances." However, this time, the romantic lead just didn't work for me. I didn't see many redeeming characteristics in him. He was kind of an oaf, for lack of a better word. I'm all for strong heroi 3.5 Stars Lauren Willig's books are always great, so even though this one wasn't my favorite of hers, it was still a good, entertaining read. I think my biggest hurdle with the book was William. Usually, Willig makes me fall head over heels for her love interests, even though her books aren't truly "romances." However, this time, the romantic lead just didn't work for me. I didn't see many redeeming characteristics in him. He was kind of an oaf, for lack of a better word. I'm all for strong heroines, but the hero has to keep up! William was just left in the dust by Gwen, she totally overshadowed him. Gwen, however was a fun character to read about. She was a very no-nonsense, tell it like it is type of character. She didn't take any flack from anyone, and I loved it! Gwen's strength, and the quick-paced mystery were what kept me reading. There was definitely a 'mystery' formula in this book, we jumped from suspect to suspect, and clue to clue, very quickly. However, this formula did keep me reading and I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. As usual with this series, the present day parts of the story were unnecessary to me. I just don't need the present day aspect in order to be interested in the historical part. I would rather just jump right into the historical world, without all the hopping back and forth from present to past. Overall, while this isn't my favorite installment of the series, it's a good addition for readers who already love "The Pink Carnation" series. book sent by publisher in exchange for an honest review reviewed for http://inthehammockblog.blogspot.com

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Spaar

    I would encourage anyone considering this series to read the first three novels and stop. I have a weakness for this series, it's true. But in the past few books, I've started to feel that weakness be abused. I find myself clutching on for any sign of Amy Balcourt, Richard Selwick, Miles Dorrington or Henrietta Dorrington (and having absolutely no sign of poor Letty and Geoff) despite being showered instead with countless new women who all think and speak the way Gilmore Girls sounds and go throu I would encourage anyone considering this series to read the first three novels and stop. I have a weakness for this series, it's true. But in the past few books, I've started to feel that weakness be abused. I find myself clutching on for any sign of Amy Balcourt, Richard Selwick, Miles Dorrington or Henrietta Dorrington (and having absolutely no sign of poor Letty and Geoff) despite being showered instead with countless new women who all think and speak the way Gilmore Girls sounds and go through repetitious romantic plots. The characters are now too countless to remember correctly and the general spy plot doesn't even seem to have any focus anymore. I had hoped, upon realizing this book was about Miss Gwen, that it signaled the curtailing of the series. I had doubled my hope when it seemed that way in the text (I'll leave that to you, reader). It had tripled when the end of the book became a reunion of sorts (not a spoiler, something to convince you to keep reading if you decide to try this one out and get entirely bored with the repetitive inaction of the middle as I did, left only to reach for chapters about Eloise and Colin, who initially bored me when the series began, but whom I've come to cling to as the only familiar faces in an ever-silly universe). But then, with the teaser stuck in the back of the book, I was thoroughly disappointed. It seems Lauren Willig doesn't know when to let a good thing go. Of course I'll read the next installment. I'm hooked, and like I said, I want every scrap of Amy Balcourt I can get. But I'll be doing it with severe resentment.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ubalstecha

    Gwendolyn Meadows has been the second-in-command to the Pink Carnation since the day Amy and Jane hatched the idea over two years before. Since then by day she has been Miss Gwen, the chaperon possessed of a keen aim with her parasol. By night, she has been a spy. But now, Jane's sister has disappeared from her boarding school, along with a friend. Gwen has no choice but to return to England with Jane in order to help with the search. This throws her into the path of Colonel William Reid, who fa Gwendolyn Meadows has been the second-in-command to the Pink Carnation since the day Amy and Jane hatched the idea over two years before. Since then by day she has been Miss Gwen, the chaperon possessed of a keen aim with her parasol. By night, she has been a spy. But now, Jane's sister has disappeared from her boarding school, along with a friend. Gwen has no choice but to return to England with Jane in order to help with the search. This throws her into the path of Colonel William Reid, who fans should remember from the Betrayal of the Blood Lily, who is also looking for his missing daughter. Things get dicey when it appears that the two young woman may have fallen victim to a plot by enemies of the Pink Carnation. Can the chaperon turned spy work with the retired British India company man to find the girls, without revealing all her secrets? So Gwen finally gets her turn at romance in this series, and it is nice that this fan favourite is in the spotlight. It also appears that author Willig is aware that age is starting to show on this series as she makes some significant changes at the end of this book that may give a fresher feeling to the series. Also, the framing plot of Eloise and Colin takes a significant step forward too, so bulley on Willig for not being afraid to shake things up a bit. Hopefully the next book won't be quite so formulaic. Fans are going to enjoy this. New people are recommended to go to book 1 or, still my fave, book 2 in order to get addicted.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris C - A Midlife Wife

    One of the first things that struck me about this novel is that you are in present day in some chapters and then in 1805 for most of the book. This really is a book within a book as the present day ancestors are looking for a treasure that is referred to in the past writings. While reading the chapters that deal with the Passion of the Purple Plumeria in 1805, there are also outtakes of a book that the main character, Gwen, has been writing. These hold clues that will help present day ancestors One of the first things that struck me about this novel is that you are in present day in some chapters and then in 1805 for most of the book. This really is a book within a book as the present day ancestors are looking for a treasure that is referred to in the past writings. While reading the chapters that deal with the Passion of the Purple Plumeria in 1805, there are also outtakes of a book that the main character, Gwen, has been writing. These hold clues that will help present day ancestors find the treasure. It is all quite interesting as I was figuring out everything as I went along. The author has done a great job creating strong women characters in this book. I love the feisty Gwen, who is not afraid to say what is on her mind and as a spy, she has some amazing talents to share! This is a humorous book in many ways and a very upbeat story. Putting Gwen together with William is a pleasure to read. You get a bit of 19th century prim and proper, and a bit of today’s spark and throw caution to the wind. Together, they make a perfect couple and the author balances them out well. This story has plenty of intrigue, romance and humor to captivate you as you are reading. As a portion of the The Pink Carnation series, this book is a fun addition to the line up of books by Lauren Willig. I enjoyed the writing style of the author very much and I look forward to reading many more of her novels, both past and upcoming.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    After being less than impressed with THE GARDEN INTRIGUE, I wondered if, after so many books in this series, Willig wasn't losing some steam. THE PASSION OF THE PURPLE PLUMERIA laid to rest all of my fears. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and what I enjoyed most was how different it was from the previous books in the series. In PASSION, we get to see an older couple fall in love, and we also get to see how Jane and Miss Gwen make the Pink Carnation work. I didn't really understand some of the plot wit After being less than impressed with THE GARDEN INTRIGUE, I wondered if, after so many books in this series, Willig wasn't losing some steam. THE PASSION OF THE PURPLE PLUMERIA laid to rest all of my fears. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and what I enjoyed most was how different it was from the previous books in the series. In PASSION, we get to see an older couple fall in love, and we also get to see how Jane and Miss Gwen make the Pink Carnation work. I didn't really understand some of the plot with the different flower spies-I actually couldn't tell you who the Purple Plumeria is-but I think that's because I've skipped a couple of previous books. As usual the contemporary Eloise/Colin plot continues to plod along at a snail's pace, but at least this time there was an actual subplot for them that was relatively interesting. I think this is the first book since the first Pink Carnation book where Jane features prominently, and I have to say, I don't know that I really like her up close. I suppose she had to take the path that she chose to move forward, but without giving anything away, I think she could have been nicer to Gwen who's stood by her for nine books. Overall, I liked THE PASSION OF THE PURPLE PLUMERIA and I have a renewed interest in the fate of the Pink Carnation moving forward. This was a solid entry in the series and a great way to spend a weekend on the couch.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Thomas

    Another light, bright, breezy and fun read from Ms. Willig. No spoiler alert here - the girl always gets her guy, so in this case Miss Gwen gets Colonel Reid. Unfortunately Miss Gwen does not seem like the same character we have encountered in the other books of the series. She acts more like her much younger counterparts, no doubt as an excuse for the return of the somewhat torrid scenes that were present in the first couple of books and which might serve to add to the number of pages but do no Another light, bright, breezy and fun read from Ms. Willig. No spoiler alert here - the girl always gets her guy, so in this case Miss Gwen gets Colonel Reid. Unfortunately Miss Gwen does not seem like the same character we have encountered in the other books of the series. She acts more like her much younger counterparts, no doubt as an excuse for the return of the somewhat torrid scenes that were present in the first couple of books and which might serve to add to the number of pages but do nothing to improve the story. In the modern part of the novel, Eloise and Colin are at a crucial stage of their relationship, and things come to a head between Colin and Jeremy - only to fizzle in a most unconvincing manner. I enjoy Ms. Willig's writing style a lot but unfortunately this book did not live up to expectations. Maybe 10 books in the series is enough.

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