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The Seduction of the Crimson Rose Hardcover – January 31, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews
Book 4 of 10 in the Pink Carnation Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the fourth installment of the Pink Carnation series, Mary Alsworthy suddenly finds herself on the outside of polite society after her younger sister, Letty, marries Mary's intended. Partly from boredom, partly from fascination, Mary accepts the advances of spy master Lord Vaughn when he asks her to help uproot a French spy called the Black Tulip who has a weakness for dark-haired women. As it turns out, the Black Tulip is no longer interested just in beautiful companions; he demands a sacrifice of Mary that she is reluctant to make. Navigating both the world of high society, where, if Mary doesn't find a husband soon she'll be doomed to live off her sister's charity, and the underworld, Mary may only realize too late that the Black Tulip is more connected to her than she ever imagined. This historical romance is filled with witty repartee and arch conversations between Mary and Vaughn, leaving no doubt as to the story's conclusion. Though the occasional jumps to the modern-day travails of Eloise Kelly, a grad student researching the Vaughn family for her dissertation, are as jarring as ad breaks in the middle of a film, the novel handily fulfills its promise of intrigue and romance. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

The fourth installment in Willig’s Pink Carnation series finds beautiful, ambitious Mary Allsworthy still smarting from her sister Letty’s inadvertent theft of her suitor in The Deception of the Emerald Ring (2007). At the suggestion of the Pink Carnation, the imperious Lord Vaughn recruits Mary to help him uncover the identity of the Black Tulip, a French spy who threatens England’s interests. As determined as Mary is to find a husband, Lord Vaughn, a widower, is equally determined not to succumb to her charms, creating a palpable friction between the two. The closer they get to their goal of finding the Black Tulip, the more their adversarial feelings dissolve into attraction, even love, just as a secret from Vaughn’s past threatens to keep them apart forever. In the present, graduate student Eloise Kelly delves deeper into the archival papers to discover the Black Tulip’s identity. Willig’s series gets better with each addition, and her latest is filled with swashbuckling fun, romance, and intrigue. --Kristine Huntley

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (January 31, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525950338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525950332
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,085,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book, the fourth in the series, centers around Lord Vaughn and Mary Alsworthy, the older sister of Letty, the heroine of the last novel. When this book opens, the vain and self-centered Mary is still reeling from being jilted by Geoffrey, a former suitor who ended up marrying Letty. Although not brokenhearted (Mary's interest in Geoffrey was purely financial), Mary is still bitter over the fact that after several seasons, she is remains unmarried. Afraid she is about to end up a spinster, she agrees to help Lord Vaughn, an elusive, sardonic rake who is constantly quoting (and misquoting) Shakespeare, attempt to capture the French spy who calls him/herself The Black Tulip.

As the action unfolds-- and there is a lot of suspense in this installment-- Mary and Vaughn are drawn to each other, although they fight against their growing attraction. Many of their exchanges are reminiscent of Rhett/Scarlett or Benedick and Beatrice in that they spar and flirt, while still guarding their feelings. Eventually they fall in love, but their romance is not conventional-- in fact, there isn't even a real love scene between them (my only real disappointment with this book. It was a glaring absence).

While I was reading "The Seduction of the Crimson Rose," I thought that it would likely generate a lot of mixed reviews, largely because Mary and Vaughn are not conventional protagonists. Also, although there are romantic scenes, both characters are so pragmatic that they don't get swept away in the manner of the pairings in the other three "Pink Carnation" books. This is not to say, however, that there aren't romantic scenes. They are, and they are sweet, although still in keeping with the characters' more emotionally reticient natures.
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Format: Hardcover
Like the previous reviewer, I enjoyed "The Seduction of the Crimson Rose" very much and also thought that it was probably the best installment in the series so far -- perhaps it was because Lord Vaughn reminded me so much of some of my favourite Georgette Heyer heroes, or perhaps it was because the modern bits of this novel was limited to the bare minimum -- charming and amusing though the bits pertaining to Eloise Kelly are, I did find myself skimming through those few chapters in order to read more about Miss Mary Alsworthy and Lord Vaughn. Whatever the reason, I'm recommending "The Seduction of the Crimson Rose" as an enjoyable must read.

Her pride and self-confidence already shot when the gentleman she had chosen to be her husband, Lord Pinchingdale, accidentally ends up marrying her less beautiful younger sister, Letty ("The Deception of the Emerald Ring"), the beautiful Mary Alsworthy finds that she is willing to consider any enterprise that will not make her financially dependent on her sister and her new brother-in-law. Which is why, when the jaded and sardonic Lord Vaughn comes to her on behalf of the Pink Carnation with a plan to flush out the dreaded French agent, the Black Tulip. Of course this would mean having to spend more time with the infuriating Lord Vaughn, but Mary is willing to put up with the rake if it will help her achieve her aims. The last thing she expected was to find herself entangled with the many secrets of Vaughn's past, or that she would come to rely and care for him...

I really enjoyed Vaughn and Mary as a couple: their interactions sparkled with wit, energy and sexual tension, and it was this chemistry between the two principal characters that made the book such a wonderfully entertaining read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From reading other reviews, it seems that a lot of people are disappointed with the leads, Mary and Vaughn, because they aren't immediately sympathetic, in that they don't value romantic, sentimental expression over everything else. As Willig herself notes, these characters draw instead on a different tradition of expression-- that of wit. The exchanges between Vaugn and Mary are sharp and sparkling. Rather than seduce each other by admiring their physical qualities, or their open expression, they seduce each other through barbed flirtations and verbal sparring-- they're excited by trying to get the last word. It's a nice change from the warmer, fuzzier romances of the first three novels, and, IMO, proves that there's more than one way to connect with a potential mate! One of the best aspects of this installment was seeing other characters through Mary and Vaughn's more cynical world view; earlier romantic leads are recast as naive and sentimental, and their obvious expressions of love as overly sweet. Who hasn't felt a little jaded when faced with too many PDAs?! Vaughn and Mary don't discount the virtues of other characters, they just don't value them as highly as the ability to maneuver situations to one's own advantage. This makes it all the more entertaining when they find themselves developing more tender feelings for one another. These are two flawed and self-interested people, who, when they meet their match, realize that sometimes their interests are better served by thinking about what's best for someone else!
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