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The Seduction of the Crimson Rose (edition 2008)

by Lauren Willig

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Member:msbhaven
Title:The Seduction of the Crimson Rose
Authors:Lauren Willig
Info:Dutton Adult (2008), Hardcover, 400 pages
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The Seduction of the Crimson Rose by Lauren Willig

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I ended up liking this a bit more than I expected. With the minimal exposure to the Mary from the previous books and the unflattering exposure to Lord Vaughn in book #3, I was not expecting to care about the relationship — either good or bad — between them. Thankfully, the author managed to produce a story that did not rely on a graphic coupling between the main characters. (To be fair, she flirted with it, but refrained from letting the temptation carry through.) Mary's character become a bit more sympathetic over the course of the book, but I honestly never got a firm grasp of what Willig wants us to think about Vaughn. And I sincerely hope the Black Tulip is not going to continue to be presumed dead at the end of successive books, only to resurrect in a new storyline. This is two books in a row, and the is-he (or she)-dead-or-inexplicably-escaped trope has already worn thin for me. I have two more books in the series on my shelf, but I am already beginning to feel a sense of ennui with both the historical and modern-day stories of the series. I may see if they are available from the library, but I definitely will not be buying any more of Ms. Willig's books; it's beginning to feel like the same basic story being told over and over with a basic change of name and location. ( )
  tarheel96 | Apr 11, 2014 |
I love this series and its frothy blend of chick-lit, mystery, historical romance and spies. If you're looking for angst and tortured characters this isn't for you but they're fun, witty and highly entertaining. It took me a little longer to warm up to Mary and Vaughn as they both are kind of selfish and shallow people. I loved that they didn't change and fell in love anyway. They're perfectly matched in their pride and wit and cynicism. I'm still never as invested in the present day Eloise and Colin relationship as I am in the historical parts but it's a nice framing device that unites the series. Another fun read. ( )
  CCleveland | Nov 27, 2013 |
Mary Alsworthy, who faithful readers will remember as being the jilted sister in [b:The Deception of the Emerald Ring|25802|The Deception of the Emerald Ring (Pink Carnation, Book 3)|Lauren Willig|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1167766189s/25802.jpg|26522], is living with her sister- and brother-in-law. As the woman widely believed to be the most beautiful in London society, she finds this unbearable. She should be the Viscountess, not her sister. When the Pink Carnation, through Lord Sebastian Vaughn, offers Mary the opportunity to win a little independence in exchange for some faithful service to the Crown, Mary jumps at the opportunity.

Fun fluff. That really sums these books up. But they are such fun fun fluff. I call them my slightly guilty pleasure. I try to tell myself that the historical fiction aspect redeems them a little, but that's not really true. There's probably technically no redeeming value to this series at all--except that I find myself at the very least slightly smiling through the whole book. That's worth something, isn't it?

This one was just as good as the others. Around page 150 I thought I had the whole thing figured out, so I was starting to get a little disappointed. It turns out that I didn't have a clue what was going on.

I have developed this phantom pain in my right eyebrow though. It seemed like someone was arching an eyebrow or raising a brow at least once on every page. Seriously. It's all well and good to give your characters mannerisms, but don't wear them out. Please.

In the current time, Eloise and Colin are finally starting to get somewhere. Their storyline is moving so slowly though that I really don't care. I can't wait to get back to early-19th-century England and see what's going on with the characters back then.

And speaking of characters--Letty was cute in the last book, but she got positively annoying in this one!

I recommend this for those needing a little--you guessed it--fun fluff. ( )
  JG_IntrovertedReader | Apr 3, 2013 |
I've been tempted to try Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation novels for years, because of the tenuous connection with The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, and The Seduction of the Crimson Rose was the closest instalment to hand in the library (I wasn't about to pay for the dubious pleasure). The jury is still out, however. My Pimpernel phase has long since withered, so I was far from being mortally offended on behalf of my favourite books, but Willlig is more Georgette Heyer than Orczy anyway. Which is fine for fans of Heyer's peculiarly 1930s Regency romances, alas, I do not rank among the legions.

I did manage to read the whole novel, which was around 200 pages too long, and quite enjoyed the experience, but I'm glad I only borrowed a copy for my 'experiment'. The modern day narrative, with Eloise the American grad student and her slightly muddled boyfriend Colin, was Chick Lit 101, with a lot of rambling introspection and 'cute' everyday observations. That's fine, I don't mind a dose of light and frothy romance every now and again. But the Crimson Rose part of the story, set two hundred years earlier in 1803, was little more than historical chick lit, if there is such a thing. After pages and pages of repetitive 'formal' dialogue between bitter spinster Mary Alsworthy and the tall, dark and debonair Lord Sebastian Vaughn - which only hit the giddy heights of witty banter on one or two occasions - Willig seemed to stop fighting the anachronisms and Americanisms, and resorted to Victorian melodrama instead ('Damn you, Vaughn! You were supposed to be dead by now!') Heyer would be proud, but I don't think I'll bother with the rest of the floral spies in the series.

On a tangent, I may have been unduly influenced by my recent reading matter, but a better twist to this tale would have been to make Vaughn a vampire, in the style of Count Dracula. Seriously! His dark hair, pale ('silver') eyes, cynical attitude, and suitably gothic taste in dress (black velvet shot through with silver) and decor, make him an ideal candidate for undeath (Mary even jokes about his immortality). There is even a fitting quote from Shakespeare in one of the epigraphs that would suit Vaughn as a family motto: 'Who dares not stir by day must walk by night'. Probably not what Lauren Willig had in mind, but I think she missed a trick there! ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Apr 1, 2012 |
I skipped this entry in the series originally because I wasn't as interested in Mary and Vaughn. I have revised my opinion. True, their initial attraction isn't as intense or exciting to me, but that's because I'm a fan of star-crossed lovers. Two people that dislike each other, but only to hide their true feelings. Or when one person is madly in love but thinks the other person couldn't care less, except, of course, they do. Mary and Vaughn exhibit none of these behaviors, as is true to their characters. They are cynical and bitter, they have seen love stripped of illusions, and they are all too familiar with lust. When they realize that they are attracted to each other, they don't engage in much subterfuge.

Although their initial courtship was different from others in the series, it was exactly as it should have been. Mary and Vaughn are almost the complete opposite of other heroes and heroines in the Pink Carnation series, and they would naturally act in a contrary manner. In fact, the whole tone of this novel is much darker and more sarcastic in humor than others. Also, after their first kiss, the author rewards us with romantic tension of the sort I crave, as Vaughn pretends complete disinterest in Mary, and Mary decides to catch Mr. St. George as her husband. Despite their intentions, the two are inescapably drawn together, and life contrives to provide a happy ending for the pair.

Oh yes, there is a plot besides the romance, of course. The Black Tulip is still on the loose, and the Pink Carnation has asked Vaughn to use Mary as a decoy, a new tulip in his collection. The plan succeeds, but the spy is not so trustful, sensing a plot, and asks Mary to prove her loyalty by killing Vaughn. She attempts to stop him, showing the Black Tulip that her involvement is just a ruse, and risks her own life to help Vaughn after the Tulip successfully shoots him through the shoulder. The action is as fast-paced and fun as I've come to expect from the Carnation series, and blends with the romance to create a tidy little package of reading escapism. In spite of my first impressions, I very much enjoyed this novel. It is not one of my favorites, but it is still a delightful read. ( )
  nmhale | Feb 9, 2012 |
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"Four pounds,” demanded the fourteen-foot-high statute of Hercules.
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Plots and counterplots, alliances and betrayals had all left their mark on his form. They were written on the thin, flexible line of his lips, designed to laugh or sneer as the occasion required; the hooded lids that shielded his eyes from scrutiny more effectively than any number of hats; the lean swordsman's body disguised beneath an incongruous armor of lace and jewels. Vaughn, Mary thought, would have made an excellent Caeser, raw power clothed in deadly pomp.
There was nothing like a bit of the Bard to add depth and grandeur to one's petty peccadilloes.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0525950338, Hardcover)

'I cannot imagine any recompense you might offer that would be of any interest to me.' Basking in self-satisfaction, Mary swished regally down the long corridor, giving Vaughn an excellent view of her elegant back and graceful carriage. Vaughn's amused voice snaked after her. 'Can't you? I can....'

England 1803. Mary Alsworthy accepts a secret assignment from Lord Vaughn: to infiltrate the ranks of the dreaded French spy, the Black Tulip, before he and his master Napoleon Bonaparte can stage their planned invasion of England

Every spy has a weakness, and for the Black Tulip that weakness is beautiful black-haired women. Mary easily catches his attention, but Lord Vaughn never anticipates that his own heart will be caught as well, and it won't be long before Mary and Vaughn find themselves lost in the shadows of a treacherous garden of lies.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:38 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Determined to secure another London season without assistance from her new brother-in-law, Mary Alsworthy accepts a secret assignment from Lord Vaughn on behalf of the Pink Carnation: to infiltrate the ranks of the dreaded French spy, the Black Tulip, before he and his master can stage their planned invasion of England. Every spy has a weakness, and for the Black Tulip that weakness is black-haired women--his "petals" of the Tulip. A natural at the art of seduction, Mary easily catches the attention of the French spy, but Lord Vaughn never anticipates that his own heart will be caught as well.--From publisher description.… (more)

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