Eloise has finally scored a date with Colin, but more importantly, she’s found the Vaughn archives and is digging into Lord Sebastian Vaughn’s life. Miss Mary Alsworthy, essentially jilted by Lord Geoffrey Pinchingdale and her sister Letty, is at a loss. She’s older now and has no reliable husband prospects on the horizon. In a bid to gain more independence, she agrees to help Lord Vaughn by becoming one of the petals of the Black Tulip. After all, she has just the right coloring and she definitely needs more excitement in her life. Needless to say, she gets much more excitement than she bargained for.
This is my favorite Pink Carnation book so far. I found both characters to be stiff at first, but watching them soften – if only to each other – was possibly the best moment of the series. Mary went, believably, from self-serving to really caring about this man, and I could see how it happened. Best of all, this book is very much a meeting of the minds. Mary and Vaughn have the best snarky conversations of any characters and it seems as though their personalities just fit together perfectly. They are the cynics among a flock of impressionable romantics and it’s hard not to love them for it. As for the plot, I figured out who the Black Tulip was maybe halfway through the book, so the big reveal wasn’t all that much of a surprise, but that was okay with me; there were other exciting events going on. I also, contrary to popular opinion it seems, enjoyed that Willig left out the customary love scene in this one. It isn’t necessary and never really has been. There’s a spark between these two, but no need to follow it through when we all know how that goes. I think it works much better this way because it’s more about who they are as people.
Again, I think this is the best in the series. I have begun to accept that the series isn’t actually going to end any time soon, though, so if that bothers you, it may be worth staying away. Personally, I love these books, they’re perfect candy fare and I very much enjoy the history worked in and even the frame story of Colin and Eloise. Buy The Seduction of the Crimson Rose on Amazon.