Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lauren Willig: The Deception of the Emerald Ring

The Deception of the Emerald Ring: B-

Harvard Ph.D. candidate Eloise Kelly continues her research of early 19th-century spies in the smart third book of the Pink Carnation series, following the well-received The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and The Masque of the Black Tulip. This installment focuses on 19-year-old Letty Alsworthy, who, after a comedy of errors, quickly weds Lord Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe, her older sister's intended. Geoffrey, an officer in the League of the Purple Gentian, flees to Ireland the night of his elopement. Unbeknownst to Letty, his plan isn't to abandon her; it's to quash the impending Irish Rebellion. When Letty tracks down her prodigal husband in Dublin, not only does she learn of his secret life as a spy, she's sucked into it with hilarious results. Willig—like Eloise, a Ph.D. candidate in history—draws on her knowledge of the period, filling the fast-paced narrative with mistaken identities, double agents and high stakes espionage. Every few chapters, the reader is brought back to contemporary London, where Eloise gets out of the archives long enough to nurse her continuing crush on Colin Selwick. The Eloise and Colin plot distracts from the main attraction, but the historic action is taut and twisting. Fans of the series will clamor for more. (From Publishers Weekly)

The third installment of Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series, the reader is introduced to Letty Alsworthy and Geoff Pinchingdale-Snipe. I must admit, before I picked up the book, I couldn't even remember who Geoff was and I'd never even heard of Letty. All I knew about Geoff was that he: 1. worked with the Purple Gentian 2. was in love with a shallow girl named Mary.

The meeting of the hero and heroine was, however, vastly entertaining - much better than the second installment of the series, which proved to be a disappointment.

Letty, finding out her vapid older sister plans on sneaking off with Geoff, rushes to the getaway carriage in the dead of the night in order to convince Geoff of otherwise (since Mary is rather stubborn and somewhat irrational.) Through error made on everyone's part, she ends up as Geoff's unwanted but newly wed wife.

When she discovers Geoff is in Ireland, she runs after him, only to discover the Pink Carnation and the role her husband has as one of England's top spies.

It is good to meet Jane and the rest of the Pink Carnation league and to once again come across the Black Tulip, who we find after getting out of prison, escaped to Ireland.

The clueless Letty somehow pulls off being a part of her new husband's schemes and finds love in the process of doing so.

To say that they truly fell in love would be a stretch; by the time Geoff finds that he's madly in love with Letty, the reader is left in the dark. When did they fall in love? And how? And...what happened to the romance, exactly?

Nonetheless, the tale is entertaining and proves to be a fast read.

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