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The Betrayal of the Blood Lily (Pink Carnation) Hardcover – January 12, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
The latest sure-to-please installment to the popular Pink Carnation series transports the action to colonial India. Lady Frederick Staines, née Penelope Deveraux, averts a scandal in early 19th-century London with a hasty marriage and a posting for her louche husband as special envoy to the court of Hyderabad. In India, Penelope discovers dangerous intrigue having to do with the overthrow of British rule and a spy called the Marigold. After demonstrating considerable bravery uncharacteristic to ladies of her rank, she finds an ally in the honorable Capt. Alex Reid. Together they chase traitors, travel the countryside on horseback, dodge assassination attempts, challenge each other to duels, wrestle with long skirts and numerous buttonholes (crucial in the love scenes), battle cobras and unravel the mystery of Marigold. As in other books in the series, the story is presented by a contemporary narrator, another strong-willed woman involved with an English aristocrat. Willig hasn't lost her touch; this outing has all the charm of the previous books in the series. (Jan.)
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Willig switches the setting of her Pink Carnation series from eighteenth-century England to colonial India in the sixth installment, which finds wild Penelope Deveraux married off to Lord Frederick Staines after the two are caught in a compromising position. Though they connect physically, the spirited, witty Penelope and the pompous, hedonistic Freddy have little in common. Freddy’s new position as special envoy to an English ambassador has brought them both to India, where rumors of intrigue involving a French spy known as the Marigold are afoot. Already floundering in her loveless marriage, Penelope sets out to unmask the spy, suspecting that their serious escort, Captain Alex Reid, might be the culprit. But as Penelope grows closer to Alex, her suspicions give way to a deep mutual attraction. Willig brings colonial India to vibrant life through Penelope’s eyes, and the sparks flying between Penelope and Alex generate plenty of heat. By taking the story to India, Willig injects a new energy in her already thriving, thrilling series, and presents the best entry to date. --Kristine Huntley
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Top customer reviews
The journey to Hyderabad gives her a chance to meet Captain Alex Reid who is a representative of the British leader of Hyderabad. She immediately takes him in dislike and suspects him of all sort of things, not the least of which is treason.
Freddy neglects Penelope badly once they get to Hyderabad and she comes to depend on Alex for companionship. A letter from home also puts her on the alert for the Marigold, a French spy. All sorts of adventures happen including venomous snakes, long journeys through the countryside, and more spies than seem possible.
This was an engaging story set in a country and time that is new to me as a reader. I loved the descriptions. I also loved getting to know Penelope better and coming to understand why she was the way she was in the earlier books.
I am also enjoying the story of Colin and Eloise as they get to know one another better. Colin certainly has an interesting family with all sorts of conflicts.
There is a contemporary angle to the story as well. The protagonist of the modern times is an American researcher, Eloise, whose history project takes her to England where she meets Colin even as she delves into the life and times of Lady Penelope Staines and her troubled relationship with her husband Lord Frederick Staines. The story flits between Penelope and Eloise's lives.
Penelope is by far the most interesting character who clearly has a mind of her own and an acerbic tongue to match. Her impulsive nature, which causes her much grief in upper crust English society, also lands her in trouble when she accompanies her husband to India. Soon she finds herself matching wits with the Nizam's wily prime minister, chasing a French spy who goes by the name of Marigold, besides falling in love with the straight as an arrow Captain Reid.
The only drawback in this well-researched and beautifully written story of adventure and romance is the contemporary thread which doesn't quite add much to the narrative and could have been easily done away with. I do hope the author will write a book about Captain Reid's half-brother, Jack, who is modelled on the real-life persona of Anglo-Indian mercenary Colonel James Skinner. Looking forward to reading more of Lauren Willig's work.