WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS BOOK FIRST. This is the fourth book in the series, and they are very interconnected. Please, read them in order, preferably in quick succession. That said, DO READ THIS BOOK. It, and its predecessors, are amazing. I laughed, I groaned, I cried – wait, I didn’t cry. But it was truly wonderful, and I highly recommend it.
The series is two stories at once: a scholar who’s researching 18th century spies, and the spies of the 18th centuries themselves. The scholar made me wince a bit because she can be very dense, but then, the 18th century characters could be, as well. Readers of Georgette Heyer will find these books familiar in some ways. And in my personal opinion, which is the point of this review, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose is in many ways the best of the lot.
The first three books deal with reluctant but noble heroes and bouncing and brilliant heroines. Very nice, and I liked all of them a lot. Crimson Rose, however, features an ignoble hero who isn’t very nice at all, and a scheming and sly heroine who really did try to trick a good man into marrying her whether he wanted to or not. Of course, I ended up liking both of them by the end of the book, but their darkness is somewhat disturbing and very intriguing.
As for the contemporary scholar, her story moved along in some interesting ways, but it’s clearly not done yet, making me wonder what will happen in the next book. Sadly, however, she remains a ditz.
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. She must 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 beautiful 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 anticipated that his own heart would be caught as well. Fighting their growing attraction, impediments from their past, and, of course, the French, Mary and Vaughn find themselves lost in a treacherous garden of lies.
And as our modern-day heroine, Eloise Kelly, digs deeper into England's Napoleonic-era espionage, she becomes even more entwined with Colin Selwick, the descendant of her spy subjects.