Monday, March 7, 2011
The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig
"Pride and Prejudice lives on" (USA Today) in Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series, which has been hailed for its addictive blend of history, romance, and adventure. In The Orchid Affair, Willig introduces her strongest heroine yet. Laura Grey, a veteran governess, joins the Selwick Spy School expecting to find elaborate disguises and thrilling exploits in service to the spy known as the Pink Carnation. She hardly expects her first assignment to be serving as governess for the children of Andre Jaouen, right-hand man to Bonaparte's minister of police. Jaouen and his arch rival, Gaston Delaroche, are investigating a suspected Royalist plot to unseat Bonaparte, and Laura's mission is to report any suspicious findings.
At first the job is as lively as Latin textbooks and knitting, but Laura begins to notice strange behavior from Jaouen-secret meetings and odd comings and goings. As Laura edges herself closer to her employer, she makes a shocking discovery and is surprised to learn that she has far more in common with Jaouen than she originally thought...
As their plots begin to unravel, Laura and Jaouen are forced on the run with the children, and with the help of the Pink Carnation they escape to the countryside, traveling as husband and wife. But Delaroche will stop at nothing to take down his nemesis. With his men hot on their trail, can Laura and Jaouen seal the fate of Europe before it's too late?"
Super quick review here since the Goodreads summary above says it best -- here's the truth, straight up: I just adore everything Lauren Willig writes, and The Orchid Affair is no exception. The entire Pink Carnation series has been a joy to read as her plots are a great mix of romance, history, intrigue, and charming wit.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of all of Willig's books is the way she plays little inside jokes with her readers. She loves to allude to mythology, literature, poetry and famous characters in her storylines, sometimes seriously, sometimes in jest, and I always have the feeling that if she could, she'd be right there next to you giving you a little nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Take Jeannette, for example -- the children's nurse at the home of Andre Jaouen, rocking, rocking, her knitting needles clicking, clicking, clicking.....a la Madame Defarge in a Tale of Two Cities. ;) And Laura Grey (aka The Silver Orchid), the quiet and efficient governess for the children of handsome and stern Andre Jaouen--a little Jane Eyre here? Laura is in league with the Pink Carnation (yes, we do meet up with her in person again!) attempting to discover political secrets from Andre, but soon finds herself involved in a very different scheme with her employer. Difficult times are ahead, and they must take the children and flee from France...with danger in hot pursuit. How their relationship develops over time makes The Orchid Affair a keeper!
Title: The Orchid Affair
Author: Lauren Willig
genre: historical romance