The heroines of Lauren Willig's best-selling Pink Carnation series have engaged in espionage all over 19th-century Europe. In the sixth stand-alone volume, our fair English heroine travels to India, where she finds freedom - and risk - more exciting than she ever imagined.
Everyone warned Miss Penelope Deveraux that her unruly behavior would land her in disgrace someday. She never imagined she's be whisked off to India to give the scandal of her hasty marriage time to die down. As Lady Frederick Staines, Penelope plunges into the treacherous waters of the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad, where no one is quite what they seem - even her husband.
In a strange country, where elaborate court dress masks even more elaborate intrigues and a dangerous spy called the Marigold leaves venomous cobras as his calling card, there is only one person Penelope can trust.
Captain Alex Reid has better things to do than play nursemaid to a pair of aristocrats. Or so he thinks - until Lady Frederick Staines out-shoots, out-rides, and out-swims every man in the camp. She also has an uncanny ability to draw out the deadly plans of the Marigold and put herself in harm's way. With danger looming from local warlords, treacherous court officials, and French spies, Alex realizes that an alliance with Lady Staines just might be the only thing standing in the way of a plot designed to rock the very foundations of the British Empire.
©2010 Lauren Willig; (P)2010 Penguin
Like other reviewers, I loved Willig's first three books. It's a bit of a mystery why in this book she lavishes so much energy on a main character who is so lacking in redeeming qualities. Willig has been producing books at a suspiciously rapid rate over the past several years, but the problem with this book doesn't seem to be haste or laziness on her part. It's more like she's forgotten what attracts readers to books: great characters who we care care about having larger-than-life adventures.
I finished this audiobook reluctantly. The mystery/espionage plot is pretty much non-existent. For 3/4 of the book we just get the tale of the "heroine", Penelope. Rarely have I encountered such a totally unattractive character. Penelope's back-story doesn't justify her lack of development and growth or make her at all sympathetic. She is petulant, childish, selfish, egocentric, mean spirited and altogether a nasty girl. Frankly, I don't know why the hero bothers. It appears the author thinks we should admire this woman because of her bravado and impetuousness or feel sorry for her because she had a difficult childhood and dislikes herself. Frankly, I just wanted to kick Penelope and tell her to go grow up. That really doesn't happen, even during the predictable self-excoriation that Penelope inflicts on herself after her husband's death -- which is still all about her. I suppose one would say that the book is well written, since the lead character is certainly vividly drawn. But why should we care? Most of the book is spent regaling us with way this woman ignores the feelings and concerns of everyone around her. This is frankly boring and irritating. The mystery that Penelope and Alex are supposedly trying to unravel is secondary. The Betrayal of the Blood Lily is a real disappointment in light of Lauren Willig's previous work.
First of all I LOVE love LOVE this series. I was so excited when I began, but was quickly disapointed. Much too dime paperback like. I just could not adapt to or empathize with the plight of the main character Penelope. she was unlike the character by the same name in the previous novel. Her husband, lord Staines is barely perceptble, outrageously abrasive and all around a huge drag. Predictable plot direction. Even the "uncovering" of the conspirators was a snooze. this book is missing the humor, character likebility and general supporting cast of the previous books. if you have read the rest, well of course you have to find out for yourself- but if you have never heard or listened to only a couple of the books in this series please read the rest first. don't let this one turn you off what is otherwise a witty and smart series.
I LOVED the first three books in this series. The reader of the last book was just awful and I couldn't even listen to it. I was so looking forward to this one because Kate Reading was back. But the Penelope character was so unlikeable, and there was something off about the setting in India. I hope Lauren Willig considers a new series.
I like Lauren Willig books to start with, but this was just fun. Having a book story line in India was a nice change from the other books that were based in France and England, This book being about a forced marriage was also different from the others in the series witch were about falling in love with there men and then getting married, Unlike this one where she was miserable with the match, I liked the sarcasm of the main character, I must say I first reacted to the story line of one falling in love with another man that is not your husband even if it was a slow falling...and even if her Husband was a bad apple..
But over all I liked the book a lot and would by it again..
Firstly, I have enjoyed all the books in this series and, unlike some of the other reviewers, I enjoyed this one too. Ironically, there was a huge part of me that didn't want to like the book. The heroine is definitely a bad girl her contemporaries' standards. And, I just didn't want to like a love story wherein a couple starts to fall in love and have a relationship while one of them was still married. But, you know what? I did! So, here's the run down. Penelope isn't the most likeable character, but Willig does a good job of helping you understand why she is the way she is. In order to make this plot work, Willig had to make Penelope's husband, Frederick Staines, thoroughly unlikeable and she is successful in that endeavor. The most likeable main character was Captain Alex Reid. He was your classic dark, brooding, yet thoughtful and sensitive male lead.
P.S. If you haven't listened to any of the books in this series, this isn't the one to start with. I recommend starting with books 1-5, or 8.
P.P.S. It was nice to have Kate Reading back as the narrator :)
I went ahead and picked this title up -- in spite of some of the negative reviews -- and it ended up being one of my favorites of the series. I found the heroine to be refreshing, and enjoyed the story line immensely. Looking forward to the next in the series.
I've enjoyed the "flower" series and was eagerly looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, this book didn't live up to the others. There were inconsistencies in the plot, and way too much verbiage - as though the author had too little plot. And the "heroine" was a spoiled, irritating, and selfish woman, who didn't deserve the rather dull hero. Even Kate Reading - a fantastic narrator - was unable to save it. I did finish the book, and was very pleased that I actually got through it!
I loved the plot of this story. Plenty of intrigue and twists and turns. And the hero Alex Reid is someone you really root for and want to see happy. But the heroine Penelope is so unsympathetic throughout the entire book that you just feel that Alex deserves better. Yes I know, the author is trying to write a flawed character that shows growth throughout the book. And that is achieved. But Penelope still isn't likeable in my opinion and I can't figure out why after waiting so long Alex fixed on her. I guess some guys just like the mean girls! :-)
Kate Reading is back so listening is a pleasure! Both story lines (modern and historical) veer off in new directions. I actually like India as a location, however Penelope is a difficult character to like - Willig makes her accomplished enough to be admirable - but she is so manipulative and short-sighted throughout most of the book that it is difficult to care about what happens to her. It isn't till the last third or fourth of the novel that she becomes at all sympathetic and likable, so it gets rather annoying about half way through.
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