If you're not familiar with these books, here is the basic set-up: modern day American scholar Eloise Kelly is researching in London for her dissertation on two spies during the Napoleonic Wars; The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Purple Gentian.
Thanks to finding a couple of descendants of the Gentian, the reluctant Colin Selwick and his more helpful aunt, Eloise learns of the legendary Pink Carnation, who happened to be a woman and therefore her true story has been untold. The Eloise sections are mostly a framing device for the spy tales(although Eloise's romantic interest in Colin is a very engaging story line) which showcase Regency era ladies finding themselves involved in international intrigue.
Letty happens to be the more sensible one in the family and late one night, she wakes up to discover that her sister is about to elope with Lord Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe. Knowing that the chances that Mary's decision could easily lead to scandal are high, Letty goes outside to confront Lord Geoffrey in his awaiting carriage.
As it turns out, Geoffrey is waiting for Mary elsewhere and the coachman grabs Letty up instead. She angrily arrives at the meeting place and due to a number of misinterpreted actions, becomes the talk of the town herself. Geoffrey quickly proposes marriage out of a sense of duty but firmly believes that Letty set up him. Letty finds herself pushed into marrying a man in love with her sister(who is none too thrilled about this whole thing) and sees no happiness in her future. It's a comedy of errors only with those involved not enjoying the punch line:
She decides to follow him, using an alias to avoid more scandal. When Letty does comes across her new husband in Dublin, she spots him flirting with another woman,who happens to be a certain lady spy.
To prevent her from blowing all of their covers, Geoffrey has to tell his new wife about his spy games and much to his dislike, let her take part in them. Despite her lack of talent for deceit, Letty proves to be very useful on the mission and this time spent with Geoffrey gives the two of them a real chance to know more about each other.
Willig blends romcom sensibilities with her intrigue tales and that recipe makes for a delicious literary treat here. As much as I enjoy seeing Letty and Geoffrey fall in love, my favorite character in the book is Lord Vaughn, a shifty nobleman who knows more than he should and loves to drop verbal innuendos whenever he can.
He's such a charmingly snide fellow(in my head, Lord Vaughn talks like Ian McKellan) that you love hating him. Lord Vaughn will be the main focus in the next Pink Carnation book, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose(with Letty's sister Mary), and that I look forward to. His snarky manners and mysterious connections do make him one to watch:
As for the rest of the story, Deception of the Emerald Ring is a good romping adventure that gives us a hero and a heroine who met their match in each other and are all the better for it. The modern day sections are fun,too, but it's the spy romance that properly headlines the show.
With the Pink Carnation books, I feel that assigning a theme song to each one is suitable and my pick for this title is "When the Going Get Tough" from the 1985 romantic adventure comedy, Jewel of the Nile, the sequel to the hit film Romancing the Stone. The lively energy of the tune goes well with Letty and Geoffrey's espionage escapades:
Although the Man of the Cloth in the title refers to a smuggler known as "the Reverend", I am in hopes of seeing a few of the clergy men that do often pop up in Jane Austen novels. With a bit of luck, perhaps I may find on these pages a character that brings to mind one of her most famous fellows, Mr. Collins himself-we shall see!: