The Passion of the Purple Plumeria: A Pink Carnation Novel [NOOK Book]



Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation novels have been hailed as “sheer fun”* and “charming.”** Now she takes readers on an adventure filled with hidden treasure and a devilishly handsome English colonel....

Colonel William Reid has returned home from India to retire near his children, ...
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The Passion of the Purple Plumeria: A Pink Carnation Novel

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Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation novels have been hailed as “sheer fun”* and “charming.”** Now she takes readers on an adventure filled with hidden treasure and a devilishly handsome English colonel....

Colonel William Reid has returned home from India to retire near his children, who are safely stowed at an academy in Bath. Upon his return to the Isles, however, he finds that one of his daughters has vanished, along with one of her classmates.

Because she served as second-in-command to the Pink Carnation, one of England’s most intrepid spies, it would be impossible for Gwendolyn Meadows to give up the intrigue of Paris for a quiet life in the English countryside—especially when she’s just overheard news of an alliance forming between Napoleon and an Ottoman Sultan. But, when the Pink Carnation’s little sister goes missing from her English boarding school, Gwen reluctantly returns home to investigate the girl’s disappearance.

Thrown together by circumstance, Gwen and William must cooperate to track down the young ladies before others with nefarious intent get their hands on them. But Gwen’s partnership with quick-tongued, roguish William may prove to be even more of an adventure for her than finding the lost girls….


*New York Times Bestselling Author Christina Dodd
**Kirkus Reviews
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Editorial Reviews

Romance Reviews Today on THE GARDEN INTRIGUE
“[An] enchanting, exciting, and clever story.”
Christina Dodd
“Jane Austen for the modern girl…Sheer fun!”
USA Today
Pride and Prejudice lives on in the pages of Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation romance-spy series.”
Marie Claire
“History textbook meets Bridget Jones.”
Library Journal
In April 1805, Col. William Reid has retired from the East India Company and is anxious to reunite with the daughters he sent to London a decade ago for safety and schooling. He finds, however, that his youngest, Lizzie, is missing along with her roommate Agnes Wooliston, little sister of Jane, aka The Pink Carnation. Did the girls run off on a lark or is there something sinister behind their disappearance? Miss Gwendolyn Meadows, Jane's right-hand woman, steps up to the challenge of finding the girls despite having to work with the very handsome and charming Colonel Reid. And the sparks begin to fly. VERDICT This tenth bloom (and the first trade paperback original) to be added to Willig's popular series (The Garden Intrigue; The Secret History of the Pink Carnation) is just as fresh and satisfying as any of the other flowers in the best literary bouquet ever created! Fans can rejoice in finding the outstanding features they've come to count on: intriguing historical details, double-crossing deceptions, complex characters, and plenty of romance. Readers will be pleased to discover a more mature couple featured within the historical portion of the story, the wink-wink humor of Miss Gwen's gothic novel, and the continued progression of our beloved contemporary couple.—Stacey Hayman, Rocky River P.L., OH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101614174
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/6/2013
  • Series: Pink Carnation Series, #10
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 87,393
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Lauren Willig
The author of nine previous Pink Carnation novels, Lauren Willig 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.


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:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2013

    check it out

    another great tale from Willig. I have read all of this series and each one is better than the last one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2013

    Recommended for those who enjoy comedy with historical romance

    One of the minor characters in the Pink Carnation series, the prim and proper governess Gwendolyn Meadows, has a novel of her own. When two girls go missing from their boarding school, Gwen teams with the father of one of the girls in the hunt to find them. The twists and turns of the hunt keeps the reader engaged while the interactions between Gwen and the roguish father William keep the reader laughing. One of the best of the series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 8, 2013

    Loved it, highly recommend them all

    I have enjoyed all of the Pink Carnation books, but this was my favorite. They get better all the time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2013

    As always, a fun, quick, witty read from Lauren Willig!  I rathe

    As always, a fun, quick, witty read from Lauren Willig! 
    I rather enjoyed this one because the last few books it seemed as though the Pink Carnation wasn't featured as much as she used to be.
    It was also interesting to see how Jane's Chaperone had more to her than just poking people around with her parasol.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 6, 2013

    Purple. The color of royalty. The hot color of red mingled with

    Purple. The color of royalty. The hot color of red mingled with the cold color of blue. So appropriately the favored color of Miss Gwendolyn Meadows, middle-aged spinster, chaperone and assistant spy to Miss Jane Wooliston, AKA the Pink Carnation. She’ll never be mistaken for a queen but she is just that to a loveable rogue of a career officer, Colonel William Reid. Finally, in “Pink X,” we are introduced to a heroine and hero who prove you don’t always have to be young to experience the thrill of a breathless, reckless romance. This review assumes familiarity with the Pink Carnation series. My apologies if you are still “un-pinked.” Miss Gwen would command you to “do try and keep up.”

    What a time to leave Paris with rumors of an alliance forming between the Ottoman Sultan and Napoleon. It seems the Pink Carnation’s little sister, as well as Colonel Reid’s youngest daughter, have gone missing from Miss Climpson’s boarding school for young ladies in Bath, which precipitates the immediate departure of Miss Jane and Miss Gwen. Simultaneously, Colonel Reid retires from his military career in India to settle down in England with his two daughters and is blissfully unaware of his youngest daughter’s disappearance, along with Miss Wooliston’s younger sister. Just why they have gone missing might be their unwitting involvement with an ancient Indian treasure steeped in superstition known as the lost jewels of Berar.

    Two centuries later, Eloise and Colin are also beginning to believe that same treasure to be real and historical rumors place it somewhere on Colin’s ancestral estate of Selwick Hall. Mrs. Selwick-Alderly, who has given Eloise total access to the Selwick family history, promises to reveal what she knows of the treasure only if her nephew Colin and Grandson Jeremy work together. Easier said than done, Colin and Jeremy despise each other and Eloise is caught in the middle. She is also vacillating between staying in England with Colin or flying home to a teaching position at the “other Cambridge.”

    Two centuries earlier and thrown together out of necessity, Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid are polar opposites as they search for the missing school girls. The Colonel is ruggedly handsome, likeable and attentive. He could charm a basketful of cobras into submission where Miss Gwen would simply intimidate them for the same result. She is English to the core while he wonders what his late and exiled Scottish Jacobite parents would think of him on English soil. The more Miss Gwen tries to hold off the Colonel’s enthusiastic addresses with her caustic wit and chilling countenance the more her slumbering passion is aroused in his presence.

    In a beautiful moment, Colonel Reid discretely admires Miss Gwen as they ride together in a coach:

    “William snuck a glance at Gwen’s profile, the long line of her nose, the curve of her jaw, the surprisingly long sweep of her lashes, as black as her hair. She was all bundled up again, primly braided and buttoned, but he knew that beneath that stern exterior was a lifetime’s worth of adventure for the man brave enough to win her. If he could talk her to a standstill first. Or kiss her into confusion.”

    Each chapter begins with excerpts from Miss Gwen’s gothic novel, The Convent at Orsino, which she has been penning since first arriving in Paris. Each quote is a clever portent to that chapter. That very novel will be highly significant two centuries later for Eloise and Colin.

    The mysteries posed by this tale are non-stop: Selwick Hall appears to have been ransacked, but by whom? Has the Pink Carnation actually fallen in love? Is there finally some resolution (gasp) in the relationship between Eloise and Colin? Who is the shadowy foe of the Pink Carnation known only as “the gardener?” Will the partnership between Miss Jane and Miss Gwen be acrimoniously severed? Is Colonel Reid’s son Jack a spy or counter-spy? Who were the men who attacked the colonel and Miss Gwen working for? Are the lost jewels of Berar in India or England or just a myth?

    Along the way, Pink Carnation fanciers are treated to re-appearances by the infamous Hell-Fire club, Amy and Richard Selwick plus Henrietta and Miles Dorrington.

    While there is passion a-plenty between Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid, I waited patiently for something similar to happen between Colin and Eloise, but their relationship rolled on…..frustratingly too cool and clinical for this incurable romantic. It was late in the book before any sort of emotional heat was generated. However, I trust the author and assume she has something else planned out for these two, perhaps in Pink XI?

    The story works for me on many levels. The author’s format of shuttling the story between two eras is what makes the Pink Carnation series so absorbing. The December romance is refreshing, unexpected, and risky. I loved the glimpse behind the often comical side of Miss Gwen that reveals a tragic past and how those events color her world. Colonel Reid notwithstanding, it is really Miss Gwendolyn Meadow’s story and how beautifully the author lays bare this most misunderstood but loved heroine with perfect proportions of humor, sorrow and sensitivity.

    Is this my favorite Pink Carnation yet? I think so and I hope it is likewise for you too, dear readers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Gwendolyn Meadows is researching for a Ph.D. on the Pink Carnati

    Gwendolyn Meadows is researching for a Ph.D. on the Pink Carnation, Miss Jane Wooliston, a spy who seems to have slipped off the usual radar tracking her whereabouts.  Gwen can’t figure out where she or he is, probably a she, or what political intrigue she is now immersed in.  Gwendolyn’s boyfriend, Colin, is not much interested in that but in why his cousin and yes, stepfather, Jeremy is showing up.  Colin believes he is searching for the lost Jewels of Barar.  Colin describes to Gwen the only poem that offers elusive clues to the those famous jewels believed to be have been stolen from India and perhaps now hidden in Selwick House in England: Hard by Plumeria’s bower/Underneath the Brooding Tower/The Moon awaits its hard-won hour!  
    Circumstances now seem to have gone awry and Gwen must return to England in two months, a return to mundane living she dreads.  But then a major problem arrives with a message that the daughter of the returned Colonel William Reid’s and her friend who is the sister of the Pink Carnation have disappeared from the residential school in Bath, England where they were supposed to be in safe hands and careful watch. So Gwen must abandon her intrigue with the Pink Carnation and the secret plot involving the Turkish ambassador and France in the days before WWI.  Off she goes, believing she will return to France very soon. The reader senses otherwise!
    Gwen meets Colonel William Reid and the chemistry between them is rather sharp, to say the least.  However, they realize they must travel and work together in order to find the missing girls. During the rest of the novel, we read about the past history of both characters, fraught with misunderstanding with family and other chaotic events that have both strengthened them in many ways but also left them particularly vulnerable to easy ideas about romance, love, and children.  Yes the children will be found and yes the mystery about the lost jewels of Barar will be solved but in no way the reader can anticipate, with the addition of a slowly evolving but passionate romance. It will also involve some family members who are completely unlike what their parents imagine.  Spies, double spies, attacks, wounded heroes, and more fill these pages with a ripping good thriller and mystery.
    The Passion of the Purple Plumeria is a literary romance and mystery that will delight all those who love either genres and leave them wanting to read the other books in this series, as well as the next one that this talented writer is planning and writing for future release!  Very nicely done, Lauren Willig! Quite a different, flexible style to her novel, The Ashford Affair, which is a terrific read as well!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 6, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    If you¿re into the spy-romance type novel, then this one¿s for y

    If you’re into the spy-romance type novel, then this one’s for you! With action packed adventures, treasure hunting, and spy intrigue, this novel is sure to entertain. William Reid returns home ready to greet his children after many years apart, only to find that his youngest has gone missing, along with her roommate. Thrown into a search for his daughter with Gwendolyn Meadows, a spinster chaperone, he finds that he is incredibly drawn to her. When they are followed and attacked not once, but twice, he gets the feeling that there is more to Ms. Meadows than meets the eye. Can William and Gwen find love amidst the drama and deceit? Will they be able to find the girls and unravel the mystery behind their disappearance?

    A very well written novel with a detailed plot and excellent character definition. Gwen’s hardened, chaperone character is a joy to read with all her harsh tones and no nonsense dialogue, until she meets William. Then she transforms into a fun, passionate character that is vulnerable and caring. William’s character is more stable, but very likable and relatable. Together, they have a fun, witty romance mixed in with the danger and action expected in a spy novel.

    I enjoyed reading The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, however, I very much wish I had read some of the other novels that came before this one. Throughout this novel, I was very aware that I was missing key background information that was delivered in previous books in the series. While the story of Gwen and William was very well written and explained, other supporting characters and the underlying plot of the series is continued through this book and it was very obvious to me that this book was not meant to be a stand-alone read. I will definitely be going back to read some of the other novels in the Pink Carnation Series, as this book was a fun, captivating read. If you’ve read other books in the Pink Carnation Series by Lauren Willig, then I would definitely recommend that you read this one too! This book was received from the publisher for the purposes of an honest review.

    Rating: 4

    Heat Rating: Sweet

    Reviewed by: AprilP

    Review Courtesy of My Book Addiction and More

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