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The Garden Intrigue (Pink Carnation Series #9)

The Garden Intrigue (Pink Carnation Series #9)

4.2 31
by Lauren Willig

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The latest entry in Willig’s Pink Carnation series (after The Secret History of the Pink Carnation) finds Napoleon-era secret agent Augustus Whittlesby hiding his communiqués to the English in his insipid poetry. The young American widow Emma Delagardie covers sadness and intellect with a flirtatious gaiety. Her weekly salon, where Augustus’s work is enthusiastically critiqued, is famous. And Jane Wooliston is a friend to them both, and also the Pink Carnation, another British spy. Whittlesby learns of Napoleon’s plans to reveal a secret weapon at a lavish celebration and, by collaborating with Emma and Jane on a play for the event, gets a glimpse of what he believes to be a steamship. In fact, it is something more sinister, an invention that could greatly help Napoleon to invade England. Whittlesby isn’t the only one interested in the secret; a former lover of Delagardie is intent on selling the plans to the highest bidder. Whittlesby steals them first, but his feelings for Delagardie compromise his mission and force her to make a difficult choice. This time Willig sends Wooliston to the wings to focus on new spies and familiar contemporary characters (a researcher and her lover frame the tale). Whittlesby’s poetry is indeed laughably bad, but Delagardie is only mildly interesting, Napoleon appears rarely, the ex-lover lacks menace, and the double-cross is telegraphed. Even fans of the series won’t find much to engage with this time. Agent: Joe Veltre, the Gersh Agency. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Paris in 1804 is a playground for the effervescent Emma Delagardie, who, widowed at age 20, is now hostess of a famous salon. But it is Emma's connection to Napoléon's inner circle through her friendship with his stepdaughter Hortense and Hortense's mother, Madame Bonaparte, that makes her an irresistible temptation for English spy Augustus Whittlesby. Can Augustus use Emma to discover the truth behind Napoléon's secret naval weapon, or will his attraction lead to a fatal misstep? This may be the ninth book in the Pink Carnation series (after The Orchid Affair), but the characters and parallel story lines (the historical tale is set within a contemporary framing tale) are as fresh and engaging as ever. Mixing historical and modern-day drama poses no trouble for Willig, and the satisfying, uninterrupted progression within both time frames will please longtime readers. The historical pair's interaction consists largely of verbal sparring, and while that somewhat reduces the romantic tension, the trade-off is the enjoyable, witty banter. VERDICT Enlightening and entertaining as always, and full of plenty of romance and intrigue, this is a strong choice for historical fiction readers. And confirmed fans can rest assured, there's more to come! [See Prepub Alert, 8/8/11.]—Stacey Hayman, Rocky River P.L., OH
Kirkus Reviews
The latest installment in the Pink Carnation historical romantic suspense series is as fresh and charming as its floral theme. Emma Delagardie has a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A young American who ran away with a scientifically minded older Frenchman, the petite blonde now plays the merry widow in Paris, hosting visiting countrymen and affecting a fashionable giddiness she does not feel. A friend of Napoleon's stepdaughter, she's recruited to create a masque for the soon-to-be Emperor at his country chateau of Malmaison. What she doesn't know is that her collaborator, and crush, the foppish poet Augustus Whittlesby, is actually an agent for the notorious British spy, Jane Wooliston (aka, the Pink Carnation), for whom he also feels an unrequited passion. Or that her American buddy, Robert Fulton, is not only working on a steamboat but also a tactical weapon that could allow Napoleon to invade England. Between Whittlesby's interest in Wooliston and Napoleon's in Fulton, Emma doesn't seem to stand much of a chance. But true hearts always win out in this delightful series, and this ninth installment holds true to Willig's (The Orchid Affair, 2011, etc.) principles that the female characters should be as involved in the swashbuckling espionage as their love interests. Meanwhile, the modern framing device has a film crew invading historic Selwick Hall, and a job offer back in the U.S. threatening grad student Eloise Kelly's fledgling romance with the smoldering Colin. It may be hard to worry overmuch, but the adventure is worth the ride--and this smart and funny installment concludes with the promise of more suspense (and a treasure hunt) in books to come. A reliable romp through Napoleon's court, filled with romance and yet another adorable and very active heroine.
From the Publisher
 Praise for the Pink Carnation novels:
“Willig’s sparkling series continues to elevate the Regency romance genre.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Jane Austen for the modern girl.”—New York Times Bestselling Author Christina Dodd

"The author’s conflation of historical fact, quirky observations and nicely-rendered romances results in an elegant and grandly entertaining book.”—Publishers Weekly

“There are few authors capable of matching Lauren Willig’s ability to merge historical accuracy, heart-pounding romance, and biting wit.” —BookPage

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Pink Carnation Series , #9
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Readers will be pleased to see the spy who inspired the series in action and will enjoy the charming, witty rapport between Augustus and Emma.”

Meet the Author

Lauren Willig is the bestselling author of eight previous Pink Carnation novels. She received a graduate degree in English history from Harvard University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School, though she now writes full-time. Willig lives in New York City.

Brief Biography

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

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The Garden Intrigue 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
firesidereader2 More than 1 year ago
This, unfortunately, is not one of the author's best; in fact, I was pushing to get through it by about the middle. The main characters are just not that likable, and the plot didn't keep my interest. I really liked most of the earlier books, to perhaps varying degrees, but this one disappointed. Hope Ms. Willig gets her vibe back for the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have greatly enjoyed this series but this book was not one of the best. The modern storyline is feeling pretty forced at this point while the historical storyline in this one is just kind of flat. I hate to say this because I do love the series but I'm starting to worry it has jumped the shark.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Willig always delivers fun, romance, and a dash of spy, writing with intelligence and depth.
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Jane_tx More than 1 year ago
The 9th book of the Pink Carnation Series was great just as the previous books. I was disappointed it did not cover more of Eloise and Colin and more of the time Augustus and Emma spent together. I didn't understand how Augustus in love with Jane could so quickly realize he had feelings for Emma even if he does come to understand later what he felt for Jane was not love. Regardless I love it.
FolkloverAK More than 1 year ago
I just finished Lauren Willigs' newest in the Carnation Series "The Garden Intrigue" I loved it! I thought the plot was great, even though I had my reservations when I first read the synopsis, it seemed a little weird; however I always by Laurens books and am never disappointed. My only drawback in the whole book was that we didn't actually have much insight to the month Augustus and Emma spent writing the play. Also it was an extremely fast switch of affections from Jane (the Pink Carnation) to Emma which left my head spinning. It was hard for me to grasp that they were really that in love as a result. But I still really enjoyed it and will probably read it again, just as I reread all of her books on a regular basis.
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MollyzReviewz More than 1 year ago
I'm strongly addicted to Lauren Willig's work. She's super talented and each of her Pink Carnation books holds something new and excited that will keep the reader hooked from start to finish. Having read all her other Pink Carnation books, I totally could not wait for this book to release. So, when the chance came up to read it, WOW! I was definitely NOT disappointed and swept away once again to the land of Lauren Willig's fantabulous characters and plot lines. This is most definitely one of the BEST historical novels that is blended with the PERFECT amount of spies and adventure! I loved Emma's character. She's a widow living in France, and her friends are Jane and Hortense (oh the poor dear! LoL!). Hortense's father, rather step-father-none other than the famed Napolean Bonaparte, enlists Emma in a job.....a job of writing a masque for Napolean's party. So, Emma's on a hunt for help, and she crosses paths with none of the fabulous Augustus Whittlesby. Now, Augustus Whittlesby has a teensie little problem....he's the world's WORST poet! Oy vay! The indignity of it! The poor man should NOT be allowed to construct poems! But, you see, he has an ulterior motive. He's a spy....a secret spy with the Pink Carnations, and he's out to catch what Napolean Bonaparte is TRULY up to with this party. And what a wonderful spy he is! Watching Emma and Augustus's growing attraction for each other was awesome! There were laugh out loud moments and few, "are you kidding me?!" moments that will not be forgotten! The wonderful characters from the Pink Carnation series are back in this wonderful new installment I loved seeing Jane Wooliston again (poor Augustus has pined for her-until Ms. Emma Delgardie enters his life!) and Gwen Meadows. I definitely recommend this newest installment with the highest of 5 Books ratings! It's worthy, of course, of more, however. Ms. Willig created this novel with wit, charm, and suspense, leaving the reader a little breathless at the end, as another Pink Carnation case comes to an end. Like her others, however, she leaves the reader hanging just enough to know that the Carnations WILL be back with yet another fabulous story and I absolutely can NOT wait!!! If you're new to this series, do despair! This can be read as a stand alone as Ms. Willig does a greatastic job at keeping the reader up to date on the past points of the series. And, if you're familiar with the Pink Carnations, well, don't just sit there! GRAB YOUR COPY NOW!!! Well done, Ms. Willig! This review originated at Reviews By Molly in part with a blog tour.
csingh More than 1 year ago
If you didn't already know, Lauren Willig is an amazing writer. I've been a huge fan of hers since her first book came out in 2005. Her books pack a powerful punch and contain some of my most favorite elements; romance, history, and intrigue, not specifically in that order. The Garden Intrigue is no different. Augustus Whittlesby has been in deep undercover in France for over a decade. He's been there for so long, he's no longer considered as a threat to Napoleon. After all he is a poet, and a very bad one at that. No one thinks him capable of such treachery. Instead, they all laugh at his horrible prose and him. The only one who challenges him is Emma Delgardie. She never lets him fully worship his Cytherea, the fair Ms.Jane Wooliston. It's only when Augustus is forced to spend time with Emma when he needs to get an invite to Malmaison where Napoleon is going to test out his secret weapon that will allow him to invade England, that either of them realize that the other is not what they seem. Meanwhile Eloise and Colin are trying to weather the invasion of Selwick Hall by inconsiderate movie people, all while Eloise is trying to figure out her next step. She's been offered a plush teaching job back home and she doesn't know what to do. Plus someone has been going through her files and e-mails, and lots of unwanted people are roaming the house. The book flows well and quickly and I found that I could not put it down until I had finished it. I was left wanting to know more. Especially as Ms.Willig left off just as Eloise and Colin reached some serious conclusions and a treasure search is/will be in progress! Unfortunately, I'll probably waiting for close to another year to find out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kaosrules More than 1 year ago
Lauren Willig has done it again! Her latest novel, “The Garden Intrigue” is a continuation of the popular Pink Carnation series. And, it's one of her best! This adventurous spy tale is set in 1804. Our heroine is New York born Emma Delgardie and she is living in Paris, France. As a young widow, Emma enjoys the Paris salons and an intimacy with Napoleon Bonaparte’s inner circle. Her two best friends include Hortense,(Napoleon’s step daughter) and Jane (who is the Pink Carnation). Emma is commissioned by Napoleon to write a masque for his next party at Malmaison. Our hero is poet Augustus Whittlesby. His verse is intentionally awful. So awful that it makes his audience and censors cringe. The puky poetry provides the cover he needs to succeed as England’s undercover agent. Augustus’ current assignment is to steal blueprints for a top secret naval invention. He must smuggle them out of France and get them to London Headquarters. Fast. However, he can’t get an invitation to Malmaison and the plans without Emma’s assistance. Augustus can’t tell Emma what he needs or how he really feels about her, or can he? Ms. Willig does a superb job telling this charming story. She doesn’t take the easy way out and use misunderstandings or clichés to further the plot. She does use humor, romance, and well developed characters to make “The Garden Intrigue” a delightful read. This book can be read as a stand alone.
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wmugirl99 More than 1 year ago
Lauren Willig's newest book in the Pink Carnation series, The Garden Intrigue, is an excellent continuation of a fascinating story. Willig keeps the series fresh, as always, with a hero and heroine unlike those of the previous eight books. The modern love story that frames the historical ones moves along wonderfully in The Garden Intrigue -- I'm still swooning. This is an engaging, enjoyable, un-put-downable book from one of the most talented writers of the 21st century.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago