In 2005, Lauren Willig's first novel, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, introduced readers to an exclusive circle of dashing, Scarlet Pimpernel-esque British spies working under the subtle and inspired leadership of the wily Pink Carnation. Nine books in, the series continues to be as clever, witty and charming as ever.
The Garden Intrigue centers on the absurdly verbose Augustus Whittlesby, poet extraordinaire and secret agent for the British government. Despite being enamored of the Carnation herself, Augustus is thrown into a creative partnership with lively American expatriate Emma Delagardie. Emma's longstanding friendship with Hortense de Beauharnais, the step-daughter of Napoleon Bonaparte, provides Augustus with an opportunity to infiltrate the newly crowned emperor's inner circle, but as the two grow closer, they realize that affairs of state are not nearly as treacherous as affairs of the heart.
The historical romance is framed in the contemporary research of Eloise Kelly, an American graduate student in London, and this savvy, snarky modern heroine is every bit as appealing as her historical counterpart. Like its predecessors, The Garden Intrigue is a playful and vibrant read, and Willig's writing is some of the finest in the genre. It's not strictly necessary to be familiar with the other books in the series, but when they're this much fun to read, why wouldn't you start at the beginning? --Judie Evans, librarian