The Deception of the Emerald Ring (Pink Carnation Series #3)

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Eloise Kelly has gotten into quite a bit of trouble since she started spying on the Pink Carnation and the Black Tulip-two of the deadliest spies to saunter the streets of nineteenth-century England and France.

Not only has she unearthed secrets that will rearrange history, she's dallied with Colin Selwick and sought out a romantic adventure all her own. Little does she know that she's about to uncover another fierce heroine running headlong ...

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The Deception of the Emerald Ring (Pink Carnation Series #3)

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Eloise Kelly has gotten into quite a bit of trouble since she started spying on the Pink Carnation and the Black Tulip-two of the deadliest spies to saunter the streets of nineteenth-century England and France.

Not only has she unearthed secrets that will rearrange history, she's dallied with Colin Selwick and sought out a romantic adventure all her own. Little does she know that she's about to uncover another fierce heroine running headlong into history.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Lauren Willig follows up her two earlier engaging romances with a third rollicking historical about British spies and romance in the early 19th century, set against the background of a possible Irish uprising. It stars the trustworthy Lord Geoffrey Pinchingdale, determined to woo the beauteous Mary Alsworthy, and her younger sister, Letty, who is equally determined to break up an elopement that would mar the family's good name. As a result, Geoff and Letty wind up in the same carriage at midnight, which means, in 1803, that they are very much compromised -- and forced to marry immediately. Nonplussed by marrying the wrong sister, Geoff sets off to Ireland on a mysterious voyage; secretly, he is a spy, high up in the League of the Purple Gentian. Letty decides to track him down, falling right in the middle of his secret life, with wonderful comic and romantic results. Once again, this is set as a story-within-a-story, with a contemporary romance slowly blossoming between historian Eloise Kelly and Colin Selwick, whose family papers star in The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. Ginger Curwen
Publishers Weekly
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. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The third title in Willig's historical series about British spies at the turn of the 19th century (begun in the wonderful The Secret History of the Pink Carnation) finds our flower, nee Jane Wooliston, more active than in the last volume (The Masque of the Black Tulip) though still not the focus of the inevitable romance. That honor falls to agent Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe and Letitia (Letty) Alsworthy, whose shotgun marriage is the result of trying to prevent Letty's sister, Mary, from running off with Geoff. Geoff himself runs off on their wedding night to continue the anti-Napoleon campaign in Dublin, where a real uprising stands in as backdrop for the goings-on. Letty ends up on Irish shores as well, and the undercover fur begins to fly. Unfortunately, the modern frame for the historical series-the research of Harvard Ph.D. candidate Eloise Kelly into the archives belonging to Colin Selwick and the couple's not-quite-romance-has collapsed, rendering this work little more than a sorry chick-lit beach read. But the series is proceeding, so we assume eventually our Carnation, as well as Eloise and Colin, will find love if not Napoleon. This reviewer hopes Willig will adjust her palette and discover the right color finally to satisfy her readers. For public libraries with Carnation fans.-Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
France's most notorious secret agent, the Black Tulip, foments the 1803 Irish Rebellion in this third installment of Willig's delightful series (The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, 2005, etc.). Plump Letty Alsworthy awakens to find her gorgeous sister Mary plotting a midnight elopement with Lord Geoffrey Pinchingdale. Determined to save the family's honor by thwarting the runaway marriage, she heads downstairs in hopes of reasoning with Mary. In a case of mistaken identity, Letty is thrown into the getaway carriage; her spotless reputation compromised, she is forced into matrimony. At their wedding the next day, Geoff (who, unbeknownst to his bride, is an English spy and second-in-command of the League of the Purple Gentian) receives orders to leave immediately for Ireland to quash the uprising. Humiliated by his sudden disappearance, Letty decides to forestall any further gossip by following her husband to the Emerald Isle. There, the two join forces with Miss Gwen and Jane, fellow agents of English master spy the Pink Carnation, and hit upon a surprising revelation: Perhaps the Black Tulip isn't a single agent after all, but two, or even three or more. As they foil the Black Tulip's plan to incite insurrection, Geoff and Letty fall in love, Jane retains her cool demeanor (just what is going on between her and Lord Vaughn, anyway?) and Miss Gwen once again employs the parasol as her weapon of choice. As in the first two installments, grad student and intrepid researcher Eloise Kelly, living in the 21st century, unravels this tale, all the while lusting after hunky Colin Selwick, descendant of the Purple Gentian. Heaving bodices, embellished history and witty dialogue: What morecould you ask for?
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525949770
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/16/2006
  • Series: Pink Carnation Series, #3
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Lauren Willig

Lauren Willig is a law student and Ph.D. candidate in history at Harvard University. She is the author of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation.


Although she may not have realized it at the time, Lauren Willig had her life pretty clearly mapped out when she was a mere nine-year-old. That's when she completed her first "novel" -- 300 handwritten pages of a Nancy Drew-inspired mystery titled The Night the Clock Struck Death featuring not one, but two teenage sleuths. (Twin detectives, if you please!) She sent it off to Simon & Schuster -- who promptly sent it back. "I was utterly crushed for at least a week," the young author admits.

Crushed, perhaps, but apparently the pull of becoming a writer was considerably stronger than the sting of rejection. Several years later, while she was in grad school, Willig began work on another novel -- although she wasn't sure which novel it would be. "There were three contenders: one, the Pink Carnation; another, a mystery novel set at Yale; and the third, a historical novel set around a group of Luddites in 1812. The Yalie mystery novel nearly won out... but the image of a masked spy on a rope tipped the balance the other way, and The Pink Carnation was born."

A witty melding of espionage thriller, swashbuckler, and the kind of classic "bodice-ripping" romance novels she first discovered at the tender age of six, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation was published in 2005. The premise is irresistible: A modern grad student researching her dissertation in London stumbles on the identity of a mysterious English spy from the Napoleonic Wars. With its clever book-within-a-book format, Willig's novel was an instant sensation. Almost immediately, she penned the sequel, The Masque of the Black Tulip. Willig was off and running with a hot and sexy – not to mention bestselling -- series.

Although the Pink Carnation books build on one another, each story focuses on a different pair of lovers and can be read as a stand-alone. Willig tries to weave in any information from previous installments that might be key to understanding the characters or plot. All her books have become Romantic Times Top Picks. In 2006 Lauren was nominated for a Quill Award.

Good To Know

Even before she committed her stories to paper, Willig was amusing herself with her very own fiction in the privacy of her head. "I remember lying in bed, staring up at the underside of my canopy, composing complicated narratives complete with dialogue, generally based on whatever movie I had just seen," she told The Readers "Star Wars spawned weeks' worth of bedtime dramas in which I starred as Princess Lea's best friend. Who would, of course, wind up with Luke Skywalker as co-ruler of the Universe -- you know what they say, if you're going to dream, dream big."

According to Willig's official biography, she is a Native New Yorker. However, she admits that this isn't entirely true being that she was actually born in Philadelphia -- a fact that her "real" Native New Yorker siblings aren't quick to let Lauren forget.

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Willig:

"Like my modern heroine, Eloise, I spent a year in England doing research for my dissertation (mine is about Royalist conspiracies during the English Civil Wars in the 1640s), and living in a little basement flat in Bayswater. Unlike Eloise, on my very first week in London, I ate a bad kebab, and got so sick that I wound up briefly back in the States, on the same medicine they give people who have anthrax poisoning. Not exactly an auspicious beginning...."

"I still don't have a driver's license. Having grown up in Manhattan, there was never any need of it -- other than as a means of getting into bars, and learning to drive seemed a bit extreme just to get a drink. Of course, that was before I moved to Cambridge for grad school and realized that in other parts of the world, you can't just walk into the middle of the street, stick your arm up into the air, and, lo!, immediate transportation appears. Since I really don't want to have to learn how to drive, I've decided the only remedy is just to live in Manhattan for the rest of my life."

"Many years ago, at my Yale college interview, the interviewer took one look at my resume, and announced, ‘You can't be a writer.'

Getting a little panicky -- since no one takes kindly to having their life's dream flung in their face -- I blurted out, ‘Why not?'

‘Writers,' he said firmly, ‘are introverts. You,' he indicated the long list of clubs on my resume, Drama Club, Choral Club, Forensics, interschool plays and public speaking competitions, ‘are not.'"

"It is true; I've never been able to resist a stage. There are embarassing videos (which may have to be confiscated and burnt at some point) from various family weddings, where I, as a wee child, coopted the microphone to serenade the wedding guests with off-key renderings of "Memory" (from Cats). It's a wonder I lived past the age of ten without being murdered by a bride wielding a sharpened cake knife. Point me to a podium, and I can talk indefinitely (and usually do, as anyone who was with me in the Yale Political Union can verify). I simpered through Gilbert & Sullivan Society productions, taught drama to small tots through Yale Drama Hands-On Theatre Workshop, and was chairman of a debating society in college. And those were only the official performances. Recently, I appeared in a toga and bare feet (well, really a chiton, but why be picky?) in front of a hundred-odd people at the law school to argue a mock Athenian trial. And, yes, those pictures will also be confiscated and burnt -- as soon as I find out where my camera-happy friends hid them."

"I've always had trouble with the ‘writer as introvert' trope. I argued then, and still believe now, that the performative arts and creative writing have a great deal in common. After all, music, drama, public speaking, writing... all involve words! My interviewer wasn't too impressed by that argument, but there is a bit more to it than that. Singing and public speaking create an enhanced awareness for the rhythm of language. As for drama, how better to get inside one's characters' heads than to walk in their footsteps? Frequently, while writing, I'll tumble out of my chair (literally -- my chair isn't all that sturdy) and act out bits of a scene for a more concrete grasp of a character's movements. Most of all, acting, singing, and writing all involve the desire to get out there and share a story, a desire that can't be balked by the threat of rotton tomatoes, or even bad reviews."

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York and Cambridge, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 28, 1977
    2. Place of Birth:
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    1. Education:
      B.A., Yale University, 1999; M.A., Harvard University, 2001
    2. Website:

Interviews & Essays

Heart to Heart Interview with Lauren Willig Heart to Heart: Lauren, this book is just as much fun as the other two: full of action, espionage, history, and humor. And the forced marriage and inadvertent romance between Letty and Geoff is just great. Tell us how you made the decision to focus the plot around these two characters and the background of a possible Irish uprising in 1803. Lauren Willig: Thank you! The Deception of the Emerald Ring arose out of two main inspirations: Georgette Heyer's Devil's Cub and Historical Studies B-57. Geoff, my otherwise intelligent hero, had formed an unfortunate attachment to a shallow fortune hunter named Mary Alsworthy. I desperately needed a way to extract him from it, but Geoff was too busy writing sentimental sonnets to Mary's eyes to notice another woman (much to the annoyance of his long-suffering friends, who disapproved of both the poetry and its object). Georgette Heyer came to the rescue, providing the notion of a botched elopement. Mary's little sister, Letty, was just what Geoff needed: honest, reliable, down-to-earth, and exactly the sort of person who wouldn't think twice before marching downstairs to try to break up an ill-advised elopement for the good of the family name. There was also a delicious irony in having my two most competent characters caught in the toils of an utterly ridiculous situation. The Irish angle was equally felicitous and accidental. I stumbled across the rising of 1803 way back in 2002, while teaching Historical Studies B-57 (The Second British Empire) to two sections of bored Harvard undergrads. I was halfway through writing The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (set in the spring of 1803) and already knew that Geoff just had to have a book of his own -- and the minute I saw that July 1803 rising, I knew what Geoff's story was going to be. Just like that. I tracked down that footnote, did a little happy dance at the perfection of the timing, and stuck it all aside to be used later. Of course, at that point I didn't have (A) a completed manuscript of any kind or (B) a publisher. Geoff's story was a putative third book in a series that didn't even have a first book, so it's nothing short of miraculous to me that Emerald Ring is now out there in corporeal form. Every now and then, I have to pinch myself to make sure it's all real -- although I suppose it would be less painful to just pinch the book. HtoH: One of your trademarks is the depth of historical detail. We know what the clothes are like, down to the buttons. We know what the furniture, the carriages, the food and drink are like. How do you research the historical background and details for your romances, and is it completely different from your research methods for academia? LW: I spend a lot more time in museums than I used to. When I started writing my first book, Pink Carnation, I was surprised by how useless my selection of supposedly seminal texts on Georgian England proved to be. I quickly realized that the problem was that academic research focuses more on the why, while what one needs for fiction is the what. When I'm writing about my heroine riding in a curricle, I don't need to know why the transportation revolution of the 18th century came about or what it did to trade; I need to know what the curricle looked like, how one climbed up into it, and what it felt like to ride in it. My shelves are now crammed with museum catalogues, heavy manuals on antiques, glossy coffee table books with gorgeous pictures of the interiors of British mansions, specialty publications for authors of historical fiction, and other tomes that never darkened the history department library. Even so, old habits die hard. One of the best parts of writing Emerald Ring was getting to return to my old academic hunting grounds as I delved into the Irish rising of 1803, tracking the movements of the insurgents, their secret meetings, and their negotiations with Napoleon. HtoH: Do you have any particularly favorite scenes in the book -- or scenes that were especially challenging to write? LW: I have a weakness for side characters, the more ridiculous the better, and Emerald Ring afforded me many opportunities for them. Although Miss Gwen going after insurgents with a sword parasol (and a couple of stray chickens) is definitely up there on my personal top ten list, I'd say the bit I most enjoyed writing was Letty's parents' reaction when Geoff drags her home, compromised, in the middle of the night. One would expect a certain amount of parental consternation, but Letty's parents are so busy bickering with each other that Geoff can scarcely get a word in edgewise to utter his reluctant proposal of marriage. The scene also provided me with the means to demonstrate why Letty turned out the way she did. In a household where the natural authority figures are more childlike than their children, Letty was forced to become the practical one, and nothing shows that quite so well as watching the Alsworthys in action. And if Letty's parents remind anyone a bit of the Bennets from Pride and Prejudice…well, the overlap wasn't entirely coincidental. HtoH: What's next? We hope you're working on a fourth volume in this series. Are any side characters demanding their own novel? And will your contemporary characters, Colin and Eloise, ever achieve a suitable romantic breakthrough? LW: I'm working on Book IV right now -- and it's funny that you should mention characters demanding their own novels, because that's exactly what happened. Book IV was ruthlessly hijacked by Mary Alsworthy, Geoff's jilted beloved. Mary was meant to be the archetypal anti-heroine, the sort of girl we love to hate: selfish, scheming, and way too beautiful for her own good. But as I wrote Emerald Ring, I couldn't stop thinking about how Mary must feel in the aftermath of the botched elopement, the hurt and shame she must be experiencing beneath her brittle façade, all the more painful for being walled up behind her self-contained exterior. I was also intrigued by the notion of subverting the old stereotype of the perfectly beautiful heroine. Mary has the looks, but her very physical perfection has cramped her character and her perception of her own role in life. Helping her break out of that is proving a very interesting challenge. As for Eloise and Colin, they're off on their first official date in Book IV. I can't say how it will go -- especially since that bit hasn't been written yet -- but I have high hopes for them!
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 89 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 89 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

    Not as good ....

    Not as good as the first two, but still a fun, quick read. Hope no. 4 is better!

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  • Posted January 24, 2011

    I loved it

    I didnt care for it as much as the 1st 2 but i was totally into the book. I couldnt pull myself away.

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  • Posted September 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Favorite of the Series

    This is my favorite book out of the Pink Carnation series, perhaps because the historical heroine, Letty, isn't a madcap adventurer like Amy, or a self-indulgent younger sister of a great English operative... she's a nobody, a younger sister that no one thinks of despite the fact that she makes sure everything is good for everyone else. Finally, we get to see a little about what other people think of this Pink Carnation character, who have no connection with the operative. This romance, despite its hasty beginning, is more organic to me, much more believable, because it seems the characters are actually meant for one another. There are obvious clues that let you think this, whereas the other books...well, the first one was "lust first, love after," and the second was "childhood friends turned lovers."

    As always, an entertaining series, well-written, a good amount of history and other allusions thrown in, something great if you want a bit of fluff in-between your heavier reading.

    * Review originally posted at my blog, Worderella Writes: *

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2009

    Sweet, but not quite up to its predecessors

    Though a very pleasant read, Emerald Ring for me did not live up to the first two novels in the series - primarily because Letty Alsworthy (with my apologies, as she is very sweet) just isn't quite glamorous enough to be completely satisfying as the heroine of a historical romance novel. Even the 'good' sister needn't be dowdy (see Elizabeth and Jane Bennet or Elinor and Marianne Dashwood). The nod to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet of P&P via the Alsworthy parents is a little heavy-handed, and their dialogue sometimes too close to Austen to seem original (maybe that's the intent and meant as an inside joke, but it comes across as too derivative). Geoffrey, a true Enlightenment hero with both intellectual prowess and physical courage, needs a sweeter girl than Mary but a more polished one than Letty (although the big love scene is both charming and convincing). And his hand is forced, which seems unfair, even though Letty's intentions are innocent and despite the happy ending. The espionage plot is well done, and Eloise and Colin finally make some welcome progress of their own. Like Lauren herself says, I'd rather 'hang out' with Henrietta and Miles than any of her other couples (so far, at least) - their appearance in Emerald Ring is one of its brightest spots. Give them a sequel of their own!

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  • Posted May 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Is the third time a charm?

    Well, is the third time a charm? Yes and no. Ms. Willig continues to stick with her formulaic writing. The plot is as predictable as its predecessors but, it is still enjoyable. Once again, I recommend for those who are interested in historical romances.

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  • Posted April 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    the first of these were good. I couldn't even get interested after reading the end

    This is far too predictable. Nice wording, phrasing... but I couldn't get into it. Can't wait to pass it on to someone else.

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  • Posted March 2, 2009


    I love this series of books. I was a bit disappointed in the ending becasue it kind of sets you up for the next book--but she keeps her characters true to who they are and how they behave.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2009


    The book itself is a quick read and absolutely endearing, but the actual historical correlations are not as strong through-out the book as in the first book. This being the 3rd of a series, I also think it rather important to start with the 1st (Secret History of the Pink Carnation) instead of jumping right in. Although the book stands on its own, there are details and layers to the plot that would just be less lovely (even though there are quick recaps). <BR/>Overall, even though there is a historial thread running through the story, to me this book is primarily a book simply for the joy of reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2009

    I've Read Them All

    I just finished the 5th book in this series and they just keep getting better. I'm ready for number 6!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2008

    If only her next book was out!!!

    All of the Carnation books have been excellent. They just keep getting better and I am already on the waiting list for the next in the series!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2008

    Lots of fun!

    This book was a wonderful combination of modern and regency romance with some exciting mystery thrown in. I'd never heard of the author, but took a chance on her first book, The Secret of the Pink Canrnation,and have eagerly snapped up book two, The Masque of the Black Tulip, and this third book of the series. This is the most exciting book of the three in terms of political intrigue and the advancing of the modern heroine's romance. The author is obviously growing in expertise with each book and I eagerly await more in this delightful series!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2007

    Can't wait for the next installment!

    I couldn't put this book down! I've read all of the Pink Carnation books and enjoyed every one. When I started this book, I was afraid that it would be too similar the the two previous, but Willig does a great job introducing new twists and scenarios for the characters. I loved it! I can't wait to read the fourth book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2007

    When's the next one coming???!!!

    I shared the first book in this series, The Pink Carnation, with 2 teacher friends, who both went out and bought their own copies of it, along with the sequels. Now we're all hooked and enjoying our guilty escapes into romantic, Regency era life. We're eagerly awaiting the next one, as we want to find out what's happening with Eloise and, Lauren, please don't let that law firm work you too hard on the partner track, and find time to write for your fans!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2007

    i cannot get enough of these books

    i read the secret history of the pink carnation and i have been hooked on these books. i have loved the second and third in the series. it can get a little confusing trying to remember what happened in the present for the last books but i absolutely love these books. the format is neat, how she switches from past to present so smoothly. the dialogue is great, character development is awesome!! and these books are a fun and interesting read for people who enjoy well written romances.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

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    Harvard Ph.D. aspirant Eloise Kelly researches her third potential nineteenth century female spy (see THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE PINK CARNATION and THE MASQUE OF THE BLACK TULIP) as she begins to find information on nineteen years old Letty Alsworthy. Apparently, Letty married Lord Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe, her older sister Mary¿s fiancé. This happened because she, the younger sibling, tried to prevent Mary from making a mistake that ironically ended with Letty making a mistake alas the consequence turned out to be her hurried marriage to Geoffrey.----------------------- The League of the Purple Gentian sends Geoffrey to Ireland to prevent a rebellion. Letty assumes he is fleeing her so she investigates where he may have run off to after they ran off and married. She cleverly traces him to Dublin where she concludes her new spouse is a spymaster. Believing in supporting one¿s husband, Letty is active in his secret vocation though her bumbling amateur ways causes Geoffrey much consternation as she keeps trying to don his black cloak.-------------- This is a terrific amusing historical romance that is at its best when the story line remains in the nineteenth century. When Eloise periodically takes center stage, the plot feels disrupted. Still this is a superb tale filled with warm characters in dangerous situations turned ironically humorous. Now if Eloise can be kept to pre and post game commentary, Lauren Willig¿s colorful female spy series would be perfect.-------------- Harriet Klausner

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