Series: Pink Carnation #2
Published by Dutton on 12/01/2005
Genres: Adult, Chick Lit, Historical Romance
The author of The Secret History of the Pink Carnationcontinues the romantic adventures of England's greatest spy with a newly arrived adversary from France, the murderous Black Tulip
The Pink Carnation, history's most elusive spy and England's only hope for preventing a Napoleonic invasion, returns in Lauren Willig's dazzling imaginative new historical romance. The Masque of the Black Tulip opens with the murder of a courier from the London War Office, his confidential dispatch for the Pink Carnation stolen. Meanwhile, the Black Tulip, France's deadliest spy, is in England with instructions to track down and kill the Pink Carnation. Only Henrietta Uppington and Miles Dorrington know where the Pink Carnation is stationed. Using a secret code book, Henrietta has deciphered a message detailing the threat of the Black Tulip. Meanwhile, the War Office has enlisted Miles to track down the notorious French spy before he (or she) can finish the deadly mission. But what Henrietta and Miles don't know is that while they are trying to find the Black Tulip (and possibly falling in love), the Black Tulip is watching them.
The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig is the second book in the Pink Carnation series, and the third book I’ve read of this series (the other two being The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and The Mischief of the Mistletoe). Lauren Willig was inspired, I believe, by the story of The Scarlet Pimpernel, particularly the 1982 movie with Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour and Ian McKellan. That movie is one of my favorites, so when when I first heard about the Pink Carnation series I immediately signed up for that. And although all three books I have read were enjoyable, I’m always left wanting more, and this includes The Masque of the Black Tulip.
In The Masque of the Black Tulip, the English are trying to discover the identity of an infamous French spy known as The Black Tulip. Miles, the hero of the story, is trying to discover the identity of this spy. Henrietta, the heroine, is also helping The Pink Carnation (an English spy who is gathering information about Napoleonic France), but in a much less involved way. Miles and Henrietta, both members of British Society, have known each other practically since birth, but they might be realizing that their feelings for each other go a bit beyond friendship.
So, as for my feelings towards The Masque of the Black Tulip – I just couldn’t love this story. I really wanted to, because I love friends turned something more stories, but I always end up wanting a bit more form The Pink Carnation series. I must say that I really did love both Henrietta and Miles in terms of them as people (or maybe I should say characters?). And I was very much rooting for them to get together, because clearly they needed to be.
However, what did disappoint me in The Masque of the Black Tulip is that Miles kind of totally sucks as a spy or intelligence officer. This was the same in The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and the hero of that story. He would make these huge assumptions that I just couldn’t imagine a real spy making. I think Willig was just trying to keep her book light and funny, but I couldn’t help but think Miles was a little dense with regards to his occupation.
I actually think my favorite part of the book happened at the end and revolved around not our hero or heroine, but a secondary character called Turnip (who got his own story in The Mischief of the Mistletoe). He was so adorable and he reminded me so much of the character that Sir Percy Blakeney put on in The Scarlet Pimpernel that I just wanted to hug him.
For the most part I enjoyed the narration of The Masque of the Black Tulip, although I can’t say it’s a favorite or really stands out. However, I’m not sure if I would have stuck with this story if I were reading it via the print version.
I’ve been a little harsh in my review, though. Overall I enjoyed The Masque of the Black Tulip, but I was left wanting more. The characters are all well-developed, although often a bit dense, and the writing is great. I was just looking for and hoping for something a little different. Most likely a lot of my expectations are from my absolute love of the movie The Scarlet Pimpernel, and I just haven’t found any of Willig’s books to be up there with that story.