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Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig
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Masque of the Black Tulip (edition 2010)

by Lauren Willig

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1,132None7,205 (3.8)79
Member:skiourophile
Title:Masque of the Black Tulip
Authors:Lauren Willig
Info:Allison & Busby (2010), Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Your library, Kindle
Rating:***1/2
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The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig

Recently added bySusanJackson, tarheel96, KayDorn, private library, PamY, cla37619, DTChantel, tbaez, SophieCale
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Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
It was okay; certainly nothing I will devote precious real estate on my bookshelves to keeping against a future rereading.

I picked up the first five books in the series at a used book store and have not been sufficiently put-off as to leave the remaining volumes unread. (Such a move is unheard of for me -- to invest so much into a series without any prior recommendations, but the selections for historical fiction were slum pickings that day.) I liked the main characters (Henrietta and Miles) in this book better than I liked Richard and Amy from the first book. [Amy struck me as too childish and her romance with Richard/the Purple Gentian felt coincidental and contrived. As did their meeting, especially in light of all of Amy's girlhood daydreams and fantasies. And then there was the not-at-all-believable scene in the rowboat. I won't even start on that.] I felt that the simmering-under-the-surface attraction between Miles and Henrietta, as characters who had practically grown up together, was realistic, even to the point of their feelings catching each of them off-guard...but the animosity from Richard didn't sell for me. I could happily do without the gratuitous sex scene Willig feels obliged to include in each of her books. Aside from being unrealistically "perfect" (and aside from her heroines not seeming to care for a second that the hero has obviously been "sowing his wild oats" before she ended up as his bride), it adds nothing to the story.

In the end, even though it is apparently Richard and Amy who set up the secret spy school, I would rather see more of Miles and Henrietta, who seem to be a more valid couple. (And while I can appreciate the interspersed "modern day" tale of Eloise and Colin, if the author doesn't do something with that story soon, I may cease to care. Eloise, while ostensibly the reason we get the Regency-era tales (through the device of her research in various archives for her dissertation), is a far less interesting and sympathetic character. Her neuroses are starting to wear a bit thin after only two books and an apparent month or so in"real time" elapsed; how in the world will that last through the ten or so books that apparently make up the series? ( )
  tarheel96 | Apr 11, 2014 |
Fun continuation of the Pink Carnation series. ( )
  dreamingbear | Feb 6, 2014 |
The historical parts of these books are so much fun. This one in particular had some great funny/silly/witty dialogue. I'm a fan of the "brother's best friend" trope because it believably creates conflict with the hero and heroine getting together without having them snipe at each other all the time. Miles and Henrietta are an appealing couple of ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances, while slowly coming to the realization that despite having known each other for practically their whole lives their feelings towards each other are changing. I find the modern day sections less appealing but they are a minor part of the book compared to the historical. ( )
  CCleveland | Nov 27, 2013 |
[b:The Masque of the Black Tulip|397844|The Masque of the Black Tulip (Pink Carnation, Book 2)|Lauren Willig|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1174425686s/397844.jpg|2584] continues the story of spies and lovers begun with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. Henrietta Selwick (sister to Richard Selwick, who was the spy known as The Purple Gentian) is corresponding with her cousin Jane (who is living in Paris and spying on Napoleon's government in the guise of the Pink Carnation). Got that? Through their coded correspondence, Jane sends messages of intrigue to the War Office in Britain. One such message notifies the War Office that the French have deployed their best and most dangerous spy, The Black Tulip, to London. A search for the spy follows.

Okay, without giving away anything, that is the bare bones of the plot. But that makes it sound a lot more serious than it is. Sure, the spying and disguises and coded messages do happen, but this book is pure, unadulterated, fun chick-lit. I raced through it, waiting to see if the Black Tulp is caught in time, but really, I just wanted to see who ends up in love with whom. The plot is fun, the characters are maybe not too well-developed, but they're fun too, and the pace is just right. If you don't take yourself or your books too seriously, this is an amusing, easy read. It would be great to read on the beach. ( )
  JG_IntrovertedReader | Apr 3, 2013 |
In my defence, after claiming I was only going to read the first novel in Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series as an experiment, I did buy my copy of The Masque of the Black Tulip (the second sequel) at a bargain price. I couldn't borrow a copy, because my local library is wisely understocked with Willig's books, but at least I didn't pay full whack to download the Kindle version. Which I was very tempted to do.

What I cannot defend is how much I like these novels! They are written very much in the style of Georgette Heyer's 1930s Regency romances - my literary bugbear - with a very modern take on early nineteenth century England, and the author plays fast and loose with historical accuracy, but each story is so easy and enjoyable to read that there is little point in nitpicking the small stuff (although I could - matches were invented in the 1820s, the term 'burgle' was coined in the Victorian era, and 'rutabaga' is an American word, but hey, other than that!) Willig usually holds up her hands to any larger, deliberate anachronisms in the notes at the back of each novel - like switching the spy HQ from the Alien Office to the War Office, and rearranging the careers of historical personages to fit with the plot - so I don't mind applying the same rule to occasional minor inaccuracies, too.

What I love about the Pink Carnation novels is that they are fast and fun - part Heyer-esque romance, and part historical adventure, paying homage to the Baroness Orczy's Scarlet Pimpernel series. The reader doesn't have to strain their brain to work out who will end up with who, or even which secondary character is the flowery spy of the title, but the devil is in the details. Not content with relocating Blakeney Manor to Kent in the first novel, Willig has very cheekily borrowed Austen's Donwell Abbey, home of Mr Knightley in Emma, and moved the gothic pile from Surrey to Sussex. The relationship between Henrietta Selwick, Richard's sister, and Miles Dorrington also reminded me somewhat of Austen's novel - 'There could be worse things than falling in love with one's oldest friend', thinks the hazel-eyed Henrietta. Or I could be reading far too much into the connection.

The Black Tulip is definitely my favourite so far - Henrietta might say "bleargh" and 'scrunch' her nose a lot, but at least she isn't Tigger in a frock like Amy, and Miles is a thoroughly blokey sweetheart. I'm starting to notice a formula already - even down to the 'love scenes' - but oh look at that, the next book in the series is available at the library ... ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Apr 21, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
An appealing tale that deftly blends the intrigues of wartime with the oldest story of all.
added by 4leschats | editBookPage, Sandy Huseby (Jan 1, 2006)
 
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To Brooke, paragon among little sisters, between whom and Henrietta any resemblance is more than coincidental.
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I bit my lip on an "Are we there yet?"
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451220048, Paperback)

...But now she has a million questions about the Pink Carnation's deadly French nemesis, the Black Tulip. And she's pretty sure that her handsome onagain, off-again crush, Colin Selwick, has the answers somewhere in his archives. But what she discovers in an old codebook is something juicier than she ever imagined.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:01 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Harvard grad student Eloise Kelly achieved the academic coup of the century when she unmasked the spy who saved England from Napoleon. But now she has a million questions about the Pink Carnation's deadly French nemesis, the Black Tulip. And she's pretty sure that her handsome on-again, off-again crush, Colin Selwick, has the answers somewhere in his archives. But what she discovers in an old codebook is something juicier than she ever imagined.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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