Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Review -
The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig

Welcome to the next top in the TLC Book Tour for Lauren Willig's The Pink Carnation! After you've read my review, be sure to enter the giveaway below and check out the other stops in the tour, listed at the end of the post. Other tour participants are not only offering their reviews, but other giveaways will be available as well.

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In the ninth installment of Lauren Willig's bestselling Pink Carnation series, an atrocious poet teams up with an American widow to prevent Napoleon's invasion of England.

Secret agent Augustus Whittlesby has spent a decade undercover in France, posing as an insufferably bad poet. The French surveillance officers can't bear to read his work closely enough to recognize the information drowned in a sea of verbiage.

New York-born Emma Morris Delagardie is a thorn in Augustus's side. An old school friend of Napoleon's stepdaughter, she came to France with her uncle, the American envoy; eloped with a Frenchman; and has been rattling around the salons of Paris ever since. Widowed for four years, she entertains herself by drinking too much champagne, holding a weekly salon, and loudly critiquing Augustus's poetry.

As Napoleon pursues his plans for the invasion of England, Whittlesby hears of a top-secret device to be demonstrated at a house party at Malmaison. The catch? The only way in is with Emma, who has been asked to write a masque for the weekend's entertainment.

Emma is at a crossroads: Should she return to the States or remain in France? She'll do anything to postpone the decision-even if it means teaming up with that silly poet Whittlesby to write a masque for Bonaparte's house party. But each soon learns that surface appearances are misleading. In this complicated masque within a masque, nothing goes quite as scripted- especially Augustus's feelings for Emma.

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Lauren Willig
I’ve been familiar author Lauren Willig in name only for some time now. She seemed to be a favorite amongst my fellow Janeite readers and has quite a following from her Pink Carnation series.  I made a note to give her work a try at some point, so I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review her latest work, The Garden Intrigue.

When taking on The Garden Intrigue, I was concerned that I’d have a hard time merging into this world, as I’d be starting with Book 9 in the series.  While I think there may have been some references to previous books’ plot points, I had no trouble at all enjoying this title.

One of the things that I found to be unique and enjoyable about Lauren’s style is her choice to tell the story in two time periods.  For most of the time, the story is told in the third person, set in France in the early 1800’s. Other chapters are set in 2004, told in the first person, with separate characters who have connections with the 19th century plot as well.  Although I always preferred the earlier setting, having that alternative plane kept things refreshing and interesting.

I’ve read many novels set in the early 19th century with romance as the main plot focus. While the same can be said for The Garden Intrigue, I loved the addition of the world of The Pink Carnation, a female government spy.  She and her fellow agents provide a level of intrigue that I’ve never seen within novels set in this era.  It might be an old motif to some experienced readers, but this was a new twist that I highly enjoyed.

Lauren provides a delightful balance of romance, espionage, actual history and even a bit of humor to create a wonderful story that always kept me entertained.  I found her main characters to be interesting and agreeable, both in the historical France portions and in the more modern day chapters.  The Pink Carnation’s fellow agent Augustus Whittlesby may have been involved in writing horrible poetry, but I just loved the bits of his verse that were frequently included at the beginning of chapters.  The chemistry he had with his love interest was delicious. And one moderately steamy scene aside, Willig kept the passionate moments fairly chaste.  She is a talented enough writer that she doesn’t have to rely on salacious material to tell her story.

From the beginning to its dramatic (and sequel-prepping) end, The Pink Carnation held up the positive reputation I’ve been hearing about in recent years.  Lauren Willig is an intelligent and entertaining author, and I’m so thrilled that her work met my hopeful expectations.  Of course, now I’ll be putting all of the Pink Carnation books on my reading list.  And I look forward to what may be ahead in this series.

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TLC Book Tours has graciously offered to give away a copy of The Pink Carnation to one of my readers!  Fill out the Rafflecopter form below, and take note of the contest guidelines:

  • The contest period ends at 12:01am EST on March 11th, 2012.
  • Make sure you leave your email address in the one required portion of the Rafflecopter form. Should you win, I will contact you on Sunday the 11th.  Please take measures to ensure that my email will make it past your spam filters, lest you miss my message. ( You'll have 72 hours to respond before I pick another winner.
  • The winner must supply a U.S. or Canadian mailing address for prize shipment.
  • TLC Book Tours will be responsible for prize shipment after they receive the mailing address from me.
  • You may tweet about the giveaway once per day for bonus entries. Please report the direct URL to the tweet in the Rafflecopter form.
  • Entries will be verified.  If a fraudulent entry is detected for the winning name, another winner will be drawn.

If you can't see the Rafflecopter form,
try clicking on the "Read More" link

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want more?
Be sure to check out the other stops in the TLC Book Tour!

Thursday, February 16th:  Unabridged Chick
Friday, February 17th:  I’m Booking It
Monday, February 20th:  In the Hammock
Tuesday, February 21st:  A Fair Substitute for Heaven
Wednesday, February 22nd:  Book Reviews by Molly
Thursday, February 23rd:  Broken Teepee
Monday, February 27th:  The Calico Critic
Tuesday, February 28th:  Stiletto Storytime
Wednesday, February 29th:  The Allure of Books
Thursday, March 1st:  Colloquium
Monday, March 5th:  The Bookworm
Tuesday, March 6th:  A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, March 7th:  Library of Clean Reads
Monday, March 12th:  YA Book Nerd
Wednesday, March 14th:  Write Meg


  1. I was able to read the Garden Intrigue too and it was my one and only book in the series. I thought it was so good that now I want to go back and read all the others. I love Historical romance and the spy element just makes it even better. The addition of the modern storyline was fun too.

    Thanks for this giveaway opportunity.

  2. I love historical romance! I haven't read Garden Intrigue yet but it's on my wish list. Thanks for the chance to win Pink Carnation.

  3. Hard to believe it's the 9th book in the series already. I'll bet the beginning seems to Lauren like yesterday in some ways. Thanks for offering a chance to win it.

  4. Thanks for the opportunity. Sounds Great.

  5. I love the idea of an intelligent and entertaining historical. Count me in!

  6. This sounds like an incredibly fun series!

    Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

  7. Absolutely LOVE Lauren Willig's writing. So glad you found her too!

  8. Thanks for the chance to win!



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