Monday, November 8, 2010
The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig
"Everyone warned Miss Penelope Deveraux that her unruly behavior would land her in disgrace someday. She never imagined she'd be whisked off to India to give the scandal of her hasty marriage time to die down. As Lady Frederick Staines, Penelope plunges into he treacherous waters of the Nizam of Hyderabad, where no one is quite what they seem--even her own husband. In a strange country, where elaborate court dress masks even more elaborate intrigues and a dangerous spy called the Marigold leaves venomous cobras as his calling card, there is only one person Penelope can trust.
Captain Alex Reid has better things to do than play nursemaid to a pair of aristrocrats. Or so he thinks--until Lady Frederick Staines outshoots, outrides, and outswims every man in the camp. She also has an uncanny ability to draw out the deadly plans of the Marigold and put herself in harm's way. With danger looming from warlords, treacherous court officials, and French spies, Alex realizes that an alliance with Lady Staines might just be the only thing standing in the way of a plot designed to rock the very foundations of the British empire."
(from the publisher)
Sixth in the fabulously entertaining series by Lauren Willig, The Betrayal of the Blood Lily leaves the elegant English ballrooms for the mysterious and exotic setting of colonial India. If you've read Willig's website, you'll know that she is a fan of the works of M. M. Kaye, (The Far Pavilions, Trade Wind, and Shadow of the Moon), and The Betrayal of the Blood Lily is her tribute to that wonderful creator of epic stories of love, war, and adventure set in India. There is even a small part in the novel for the famous author, as Mrs. Selwick-Alderly explains to Eloise that she and M. M. Kaye were friends in their younger years.
Penelope Deveraux, or Lady Frederick Staines, is quite a departure from the proper, social-conscious ladies in her group of friends. She is impetuous and strong-willed, often times landing herself in predicaments because of her brash and hasty remarks and actions. There is little love lost between Penelope and her new husband who appears to be more interested in her money than in their relationship. Because their marriage was a formality to avoid scandal, I wasn't really emotionally invested in the couple. I was stumped as to what Willig was going to do to make things work out for this ill-suited couple.
Enter Captain Alex Reid - handsome and honorable, acting as an official escort to the couple as they travel to Hyderabad. With her husband more interested in enjoying the exotic women available for "entertainment", Penelope is often left alone without protection--and there is plenty of danger around. Spies, poisonous snakes, murder, stolen gold, and plots to overthrow British control all cause Penelope and Captain Reid to turn to each other as friends and allies...and maybe something more.
Eloise and Colin seemed to have a smaller part in Blood Lily, but their relationship is progressing nicely and Eloise is beginning to make some personal discoveries about Colin's present-day family in the Selwick-Alderly archives as well as academic material for her dissertation. We're left with a little intrigue surrounding the identity of Colin's stepfather.
All in all, another treat for Pink Carnation fans, who like me, just can't seem to get enough of flower spies, Napoleon, and romance.
P.S. Curiously, there is no spy with the moniker Blood Lily...there is the Marigold, and the sweet scents of exotic blooms, but no blood lily! I did a search and found that blood lily was meant to be descriptive of Penelope and not the spy featured in the novel. Glad that was cleared up, 'cause I thought I fell asleep while reading. ;)
Title: The Betrayal of the Blood Lily
Author: Lauren Willig
genre: historical romance