Lauren Willig: The Orchid Affair

Laura Grey has had it being a governess She has just graduated from the Selwick Spying Academy and is off to France to do her bit to fight the revolution Of course she just happens to be going to France in the very role she was trying to escape that of governess Laura or precisely Laure Griscogne has been away from her homeland since her parents died and left her orphaned and having to take care of herself in the only way possible by rearing others children though when she started she was but a child herself Now she has two new charges the children of Andre Jaouen a man The Pink Carnation is desperate to now about especially because he works in the Abbaye Prison with that most odious of men Delaroche But when you spend most of your time taking care of the children in a large and desolate house and rarely spying at Ups, Kita Sudah Menikah? keyholes and sneaking messages to The Pink Carnation through various booksellers it s hard to see the value in your work But there is to Jaouen then meets the eye He has connections within the artistic community that Laura s family was once in the center of Laura was once the child of a somebody a great poetess Andre is having a hard time rectifying this stern prim governess with the loose and wanton Paris saloons of pre revolutionary France All the while Laura is having a hard time rectifying this rather attractive bespectacled man with that of a hardened revolutionary who wants toill all the aristos he can find But when both their missions unexpectedly collide around a man who could restore the French monarchy they have to decide whether it is best to let animosities and allegiances fall by the wayside and trust their instincts and growing attraction to each other Plus sneaking through the countryside as travelling performers can t be as hard as it soundsThe newest in Lauren Willig s ever expanding cannon of Pink Carnation books takes us right back to the heart of what this series is about Spying Even if with a little Commedia it s as the author puts it so well like The Sound of Music meets Mata Hari We are back within the courts of Napoleon and the streets of Paris where blood might run in the streets at any moment and the reality of the horrors that await in the Abbaye Prison are a real threat not comfortably located on the other side of the channel While the previous books have all had spies in various locals with various flower monikers this one feels the closest to the legacy of The Scarlet Pimpernel with our heroine in enemy territory with barely an ally and no ally that she can get to without a bookstore or an effusive poet Speaking of said poet we get nice little cameos from some of the Pink cast but they are just the icing on the cake what makes this book soar are the new characters of Andre and Laura which even readers new to the series can enjoy without the previous installments Every book since the first has been a pairing off of a previous hero or heroine with someone new or some old friend but not in this case Here we have a blank canvas ripe for the painting Miss Grey has only had a few brief and enigmatic references which have given her no illumination Laura has a rich and complicated past that was filled with sumptuousness and luxury and is now contained within harsh grey stays Andre has also had a life that was once filled with love and an artistic wife instead he now has to change ideals and live a sparse and paired down life Both these two have spent a life hiding who they really are and masking what they want and feel I felt such an instant connection with both of them just waiting with baited breath for Laura to realize this man could not possibly be evil even if he is French they aren t all Delaroches How Lauren is able to continually excel at each subseuent book astonishes me While they do build on each other to form a perfect shelf in my library they also are wonderfully contained little jewels of stories that you just want to go back to again and again which Lauren does do One day we wonder who is that lady at the Selwick Spy School years later she is flesh She is whole and wonderful and I didn t want the book to end I hope when you get your hands on a copy you ll feel as I do And if you hate the new cover you don t have to Catwoman keep in on the book There s a reason why Lauren Willig s books are so popular and The Orchid Affair reminded me of why I didn t want this book to end The story is an excellent well rounded historical There s lots of adventure and mystery great characters and a lot of sweet romanceThe book started a little slow for me there wasn t a lot of action at the start But I felt the story picked up as soon as Andre and Laura ran into the boisterous painter Daubier I feel like that s when the secrets really started to come out in the openAt first I couldn t tell if Emma s relationship with Andre was going to lead to romance or not but once it did I was on the edge of my set for the rest of the book Their love had it all secrets jealousies insecurities and always and foremost respect and friendship TI loved that they were a little older and wiser than romance heroes and heroines normal are That made their love so much deeper and real Andre was so strong and such an honorable character I loved that his uiet strengths were so much different than a typical hero I also loved that Andre had eye glasses and that he was always actually wearing them It wasn t a detail that got lost in the story it was very much a part of his characterI really liked the secondary characters they made the story come alive The two children were so cute and seem so real They weren t used just for laughs Daubier was a lovable bachelor Uncle type of character and I m not going to lie De Barry was hotThe mystery was very well plotted and had me guessing the whole time I was often shocked at the twists and turns in the story I loved trying to decipher the messages form the Pink CarnationI wasn t totally a fan of the present day part of the story I see it as a way to tie the series together but I felt lit took me out of the real story sometimes At one particularly exciting point I was so upset to turn the page and see the modern characters It was like the dreaded to be continued at the end of your favorite tv showThis book perfectly balances a sweet and tender romance with an adventurous historical mystery I can t wait to read the books that I ve missed in this wonderful seriessent by publisher in exchange for honest reviewrevie. Laura Grey a veteran governess joins the Selwick Spy School expecting to find elaborate disguises and thrilling exploits in service to the spynown as the Pink Carnation She hardly expects her first assignment to be serving as governess for the children of Andre Jaouen right hand man to Bonaparte's minister of police Jaouen and his arch rival Gaston Delaroche are investigating a susp.

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Ies with the sixth book The Betrayal of the Blood Lily I was eagerly ready to continue readingI have already read the seventh book so I moved on to The Orchid Affair instead As with the previous books we meet a likable heroine in a decidedly awkward situation and a headstrong bachelor with the last thing on his mind being loveWhile many of Willig s books have a decidedly obvious formula that has never turned me off to the series I think what I love most is her ability to make me buy into the ro Oh I loved this installment of Pink Carnation The historical action shifts to France and I loved the intrigue The Selwick spy school sends one of its pupils off on a mission and it Baby Legacy (So Many Babies kept me buri The Silver Orchid shines in post revolutionary Paris The Orchid Affair is Willig s eighth novel in the popular Pink Carnation series set during the Napoleonic Wars between England and France They involve historical espionage romance swash buckle and a fair dose of comedy and sardonic wit neatly ticking off all the check boxes on my ideal historicalromancecomedy reading hit listThe opening chapters of Orchid were an abrupt change after the high comedy of Willig s last offering The Mischief of the Mistletoe Get ready to shift gears No Christmas pudding capers here It is 1802 post revolutionary Paris The tone is serious and somber lots of cold rain a prison interrogation and a visit by Madame Guillotine BrrrOur heroine Miss Laura Grey is eager to do anything other than the governessing that has consumed her life for the past sixteen years Recruited by the elusive flower spy The Pink Carnation she has just graduated from the Selwick Spy School and traveled to Paris on her first mission to of course do what shenows best be a governess albeit an undercover one teaching young children and blending into the woodwork as a servant in the household of an important police official Undercover as Laure Griscogne s code named The Silver Orchid her assignment is to observe and collect information on the movements of her new employer Andre Jaouen who works at the Prefecture de Paris under Louis Nicolas Dubois Chief of Police and prot g of Joseph Fouche Bonaparte s Minister of Police Jaouen and his arch rival Gaston Delaroche an agent of Fouche are investigating a Royalist plot to overthrow the First Consul of France Napoleon Bonaparte and reinstate the Bourbon lineParis is grim and imposing a police state and not at all what Laura remembered from her childhood Orphaned at sixteen by the untimely death of her artistic parents famous French sculptor Michel de Griscogne and Italian poetess Chiara de Veneti Laura has spent the last half of her life earning her bread in the oppressive governess trade in England Her current employers wife Julie Beniet died four years prior to her arrival and their two young children have until recently been raised by a family friend in the country Jaouen is suspicious that Laura is a plant in his house by Gaston Delaroche the mad megalomaniac to sinister Fouche He does not uite now what to make of this prim matter of fact governess She on the other hand is as eually curious of him Handsome and austere this disheartened Revolutionist ideals of libert galit and fraternit are now a muddled dream after the coup d tat of Napoleon and his self installation as First Consul The age of revolutionary enlightened for both of them is now a regime of terror and fearTeaching Latin texts and Aesop s Fables seem rather dull and un spy like to Laura until her employer s secret meetings suspicious doings and shocking reveal change the course of her mission As Andre and Laura put aside their differences they are forced to flee the city as husband and wife with the children under the cover of traveling performers in a Commedia dell arte troupe In hot pursuit is the evil Gaston DelarocheAs in all of the previous novels in the Pink Carnation series except The Mischief of the Mistletoe the parallel plot with contemporary scholar Eloise Kelly prompts the historical story as she conducts her own research for her doctoral thesis on the enigmatic British flower spies during the Napoleonic Wars Her ongoing relationship with Colin Selwick a direct descendant of the Purple Gentian and the Pink Carnation brings them to Paris for Colin s estranged mother s weekend birthday party As both plots unfold will the Pink Carnation s help be enough to assist Laura and Andre to safety and success supply Eloise with enough footnotes for her dissertation and the reward of a marzipan pigWhat a fun adventure The Orchid Affair is Since a ladies imagination is very rapid I was guessing at plots left and right Hmm 1 Stern widower in a dripping greatcoat and prim impoverished governess Will there also be mad wife hidden in the attic like Jane Eyre 2 Brave widower and prim governess flee nasty government officials Do they sing next and go mountain climbing like Sound of Music 3 Stoic widower and prim governess escape by disguise as actors in a comedy Ahh Willig is such a delightful author to read Buta funny thing happened on the way through this book a subtle role reversal took place The contemporary storyline which through the previous books was merely a conduit to further the historical plot line became much intriguing than the main story The historical adventures of the Silver Orchid were interesting if a little slow moving while the intrigue among the modern day Selwick clan was palpable I found myself wanting to just skim over history in order to get to the parts that contained Eloise and Colin s predicament Unfortunately that ended up being the biggest disappointment in the book Nothing was revealed nothing was accomplished and nothing was learned after all the suspense It was just left dangling with no one saying a thing If I hadn t loved the wonderful yet humorous writing of Willig this would have suffered greatly in the star department Oh dear Laura and Letty are now having a face off over who is the best Willig heroine Arabella is looking on to see if she can capitalize on the disagreement if Pen doesn t beat her to the punchline Mary thinks she is better than all this Charlotte is reading a book and Hen and Amy are far too busy training new spies to notice I m glad to see Willig getting back to a espionage heavy plot I thought the political intrigue here was one of her best she notes at the end that it is based on real events and characters and I think that approach worked well for her. With Jaouen than she originally thought As their plots begin to unravel Laura and Jaouen are forced on the run with the children and with the help of the Pink Carnation they escape to the countryside traveling as husband and wife But Delaroche will stop at nothing to take down his nemesis With his men hot on their trail can Laura and Jaouen seal the fate of Europe before it's too lat.

Wed for This was much MUCH better than the last couple of Carnation books I don t even think I really remember those I must have blocked them out Jane actually shows up and the focus is back on FranceEngland which makes much sense since I doubt the Secret Carnation controlled espionage on every continentAnyway this one was a bit mature in terms of character both Laura and Andre are in their 30s and I felt that it was also less frivolous than previous installments The romance bloomed slowly and the spy elements made sense although I m still not convinced of Andre s motives My only disappointment is the modern section which just seems to drag without purpose I would like it better if that story just framed the other the interruptions began to get tedious Still it was a welcome relief to have the Carnation series back into fighting shape Here s the thing If you re at the point where you re reading the SEVENTH of a series in HARDCOVER you don t really need my review You re like me you re going to read it regardless of what the main storyline might be We ve come this far and we ve been amused enough with the ride so we ll continue on The Orchid Affair is indeed the seventh book in the Pink Carnation series a count which doesn t include the Christmas intrigue published a few months ago or that little online novella published by Lauren Willig historical romance novelist who found her way to full time writing only after going to Harvard Law something tells me that when they talk about the many things you can do with your law degree this might not have been what they had in mind Willig has certainly published a great deal since The Secret History of the Pink Carnation appeared in 2005 so thank goodness she seems to now exactly what her readers want The series is loosely gathered around the doings of the Pink Carnation an English spy but the Pink Carnation herself is a somewhat elusive character only peeking in occasionally while each book focuses on the love lives of two other individuals Most of the pairs of lovers in uestion are English regardless of the country that provides our setting but The Orchid Affair is uniue rather than featuring Englishfolk running about France while sporting flowery spy names this installment features a Frenchwoman returning home after spending years in England as a governess so she can sport a flowery spy name and be planted in the home of a French official Much less Englishness And running At least in the first half In the end what she and her super secret spy boss The Pink Carnation doesn t uite count on is that the French official in uestion might not be totally on board with the current government s practices either which would make them surprising allies in the need to smuggle a French claimant to the throne out of FranceWillig readers Langlais correct pour les Nuls know the basic idea of what they ll be getting here Some ridiculous fun and an eventual happy ending preferably with a sexy scene or two tossed in or at least some nice romantic angst And when the obvious set up is between a secret spy governess and the employer she s spying on well there you have it Laura Grey is indeed a governess so posing as a governess isn t a terribly difficult role for her Her parents were artists her mother a poet of some note and her father a wellnown sculptor and while they had many friends in life when they died in a boating accident Laura made her own way in life Now the thrill of serving as a spy and having gone through the Selwick Spy School is a bit muted by the daily duties of teaching children so thankfully the story does eventually veer off into something much amusing a traveling troupe of actors Andre Jaouen is her employer the right hand man and cousin by marriage to the Chief of Police It s not surprising therefore that the Pink Carnation might want someone in his employ to glean any useful bits of information what Laura eventually discovers however is that Andre is assisting the Royalist cause having grown jaded with what the Revolution has led to As a result we get a fresher look at all the post Revolution politics in France which provides a welcome perspective in a series where naturally one must worry about the whole those Frenchies seek him everywhere storyline could get tiredOn the modern end of things as each novel does tie together with the modern graduate student Eloise and her blossoming romance with the many time great grandson of one of these flowery spies we actually are seeing some drama stir up that goes beyond Eloise and Colin I was a tad disappointed that we get no new information about exactly what Colin might be up to is he really writing a spy novel or is he perhaps taking up the family business of spying but we do get a bit of drama as it concerns his family s estate and his mother s husband who was her husband s nephew ew making a bit of a power play in his desire to be head of the family and trump Colin The trouble here is that we get so little time with this cast that I always find myself wishing for and not in the good sense strictly speaking Certainly it s interesting but it does feel like we re rather eking along thereI enjoy Willig s novels because she clearly has fun with the story which means that the reader is likely to have fun reading it She creates likable characters often of the bumbling variety and they get up to ridiculous antics and The Orchid Affair one was about par for the course though it takes a little while to get to the ridiculous antics as Paris is far too grim and serious for such things evidently Sadly we re getting to the point where Willig has paired off so many people it seems almost absurd when you come across them a whole group of perfectly matched couples in charge of espionage operations across the Channel But I chuckled and read the book in a weekend so clearly it was all still amusing enough It wasn t my favorite of her novels by any means the best one in the recent past was The Betrayal of the Blood Lily It was good to get back to the actual center of the series aka the French Revolution though and the French perspective was a nice angle The Mischief of the Mistletoe introduced a whole crop of younger sisters so clearly Willig has ample future heroines tucked away so I ll Constantly Craving keep on reading Reading a Lauren Willig novel is an exceedingly pleasant way to pass a winter s afternoonevening Justeep the tea warm and the scones at the ready 35 stars After diving back into the Pink Carnation ser. Ected Royalist plot to unseat Bonaparte and Laura's mission is to report any suspicious findings At first the job is as lively as Latin textbooks and nitting but Laura begins to notice strange behavior from Jaouen secret meetings and odd comings and goings As Laura edges herself closer to her employer she makes a shocking discovery and is surprised to learn that she has far in common.

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Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of nineteen works of historical fiction Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages awarded the RITA Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards and chosen for the American Library Association's annual list of the best genre fiction After graduating from Yale University she embarked on a PhD in History at Harvard before leavin