The Deception of the Emerald Ring
Eloise Kelly is still digging up information on nineteenth-century spies and swooning over Colin Selwick in The Deception of the Emerald Ring, third in Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series. While investigating the Pink Carnation’s involvement in the quashing of the Irish rebellion of 1803, Ellie comes across another story of a couple who furthered England’s cause. The tale that ensues is a fun blend of contemporary and historical romance, with a large dose of humor thrown in.
Searching for more hard evidence on the Pink Carnation, Eloise looks into fellow spies during the Napoleonic Wars to catch a lead. Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe was an agent of the Purple Gentian and for several years his name was associated with Mary Alsworthy’s, for it was well-known that he was head-over-heels in love with her. Then, Geoffrey suddenly marries Laeticia Alsworthy, clearly the sister of his beloved. Now…why would he do something like that?
Letty wakes up one night to the sound of her sister clunking around in her bedroom. Going to her sister’s door, Letty discovers that Mary is dressed and packing luggage with the help of a maid. From the conversation between the two in the room, Letty quickly realizes that Mary is planning on eloping with someone – and she knows just who it is. There is no other man who is as foolhardy in love with her sister as Lord Pinchingdale. If there were any possibility of marrying Mary, he would grab it, scandal or no. Hoping to save the family honor, Letty sneaks out of the house and down the alley toward an awaiting carriage. Trying to get the foolish lord’s attention and send him on his way, she instead meets with an ungentlemanly individual who picks her up and tosses her in the carriage.
Geoff is rather upset at being delayed for his meeting with Mary by a messenger from the War Office, but duty will call. Knowing that his coachman will deliver his future bride to the designated inn, he hurries to catch up on horse. He pulls in just as the carriage does and cannot contain himself from marching up to the carriage, pulling his intended into his arms, and kissing her senseless. Only after he has enjoyed himself for a minute or two does he realize that the woman in his arms doesn’t quite have the same proportions as Mary. Releasing her, he sees his future sister-in-law, but as several men start commenting on his behavior and on the woman he was embracing much too intimately, it dawns on him that he has just been played for a rather large fool.
Geoff and Letty marry immediately, but because he is convinced Letty intended to set a trap for him and because he has business to attend to in Ireland, Geoff quickly leaves his new bride. Letty is crushed, but follows him to the Emerald Isle to explain what really happened that night. Little does she know that she is walking into a nest of spies, traitors, and rebels. The Pink Carnation herself reveals the truth of the situation to Letty and involves her in their schemes to bring down a rebellion before it begins.
This is a very witty, well-written novel. Letty is a fun character with a sharp mind and tongue. Hers and Geoff’s relationship is sweet and believable. The intrigue and mystery is of the right tone for this type of book. There are several reviews and quotes that liken the book to Austen’s work, but for those die-hard Austen fans, the comparison isn’t exactly true. This would be a very modernized, more chick lit version of Austen, with actual sex scenes included. But in fairness to the comparison, this book has humor and wit pouring out of its pages, as well as many big, wonderful words.
While the first couple of chapters dedicated to Eloise were very funny and smart, the rest of them increasingly grated on my nerves. I didn’t like her much and actually thought that she was rather rude in her judgment of others. And although she is a PhD candidate, she came across as so juvenile in her crush that I just wanted to shake her and say, “Get over it, already! How long have you been out of junior high?” She was funny at first, but became pathetic as time wore on. I couldn’t get into her and Colin’s “relationship” and could have done without her chapters.
While there were some things I either didn’t enjoy or found hard to believe, the book was overwhelmingly good. The Deception of the Emerald Ring crosses several genres and does so quite well. The humor and fun is priceless and features an intelligent, feisty, and clever heroine. This story should not be missed and I’ll be awaiting the next installment.