Monday, May 31, 2010

Review: The Seduction of the Crimson Rose by Lauren Willig

Yet another eventful school year has come to a close, and I'm reminded once again of the amount of "decompressing" that I have to go through to feel normal again! Thankfully we have this lovely Memorial Day weekend, which is perfect for just that...relaxing. Yes, I have a few things to finish up before I leave for Hawaii, but really things are going quite well.

One series I've been trying to finish before I leave is the Pink Carnation series, by Lauren Willig. I've reviewed the first three in the series, and recently listened to book four on audio book, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose. While not my favorite, it still was quite a fun story.

Synopsis: Picking up where book three left off, with Letty Alsworthy marrying her sister Mary's intended, Mary Alsworthy is now outside of "society" as she knew it. Feeling jilted, yet not particularly upset (as she didn't really even love her intended, but wanted his status), Mary is forced to politely circulate in society knowing she might not find a husband. To this bleak, soured picture enters the dastardly Lord Vaughn, from previous installments. As with the previous novels, we are unsure about whether Vaughn is working as a spy for the French or not, and he always seems to be hitting on whatever lovely lady is in his vicinity. Although he is flirtatious, his desires are not towards remarrying (since he is a widower), but to play, which makes him nervous around Mary. Not only must the two fight what is an apparent attraction, but they must also work to uncover the identity of the elusive Black Tulip.

Review: While I appreciated the witty banter and thrilling action of book four, I had a real difficult time getting into this particular story. It seemed to me that the previous installments had helped to create this character in Lord Vaughn who was quite unpopular to the reader. Throughout the stories, he seemed like this swine who flirted with the women, and who could or could not be spying for the French and playing both sides. In all honesty, I viewed Lord Vaughn as a great villain, and I just couldn't let that go to see him as a possible love interest for Mary, nor as someone that I should feel the least bit of sympathy for.

Lest I demonize the lead male character without giving the lead female character her just dues, I have to say that Mary came across as a spoiled brat as well. In some ways I was supposed to feel bad for Mary, as she had lost her "love interest" to her sister, but she didn't even really love him! Instead, Mary was more interested in looking for status, and I wasn't completely convinced that she had completely changed as she fell in love with Lord Vaughn. Could I say the two fell in love? I suppose you can say the two were a good couple, and deserved one another, but I really struggled to connect to these two characters. It's not that the story in itself is bad, as the thriller theme is carried forward and you learn more about the espionage and action of the story, but I wasn't as into the main characters.

On the flip side, I couldn't get enough of our modern narrator's story. Eloise, as the graduate student researching the Pink Carnation, has developed a relationship with the rich owner of these sensitive historical document, Colin. He was so reluctant and snooty about allowing Eloise access to the documents in the beginning, that it created this delicious tension between the two, that has left them pretty much falling for one another by this point. The problem is, you only get the rarest snippets of the modern day story!!! Honestly, I've switched gears a bit, and really just want to know what's going to happen between Eloise and Colin!

Altogether, as with the previous books, I have enjoyed this series. There wasn't any extended love scenes in this particular installment, but there was the characteristic sexual tension present as in the others. I can't say this was my favorite of the first four, but I really am loving the story of our modern narrator that has been building up. Because of the modern element of the story, I can't wait to read the next installment!

*FTC Disclosure: The review is based off of a library copy of the novel.

This counts as my 6th in the 2010 Audio Book Challenge over at Queen of Happy Endings. Technically this is the last one I signed up to do, so I have successfully completed one of my challenges!


  1. I'm curious to find out about the modern element of the story as well. I'm afraid I am more curious about it than about the historical element. I still need to finish the 2nd installment though.

  2. I recognize the painting on the cover this time--it's the Duchess of Hamilton by George Romney. Yay. ;)

  3. Yet another series of books I have sitting on my eReader and haven't read yet. I've heard such good things about them. I'm glad to hear you've enjoyed them.