The Betrayal of the Blood Lily

Written by Lauren Willig
Review by Ellen Keith

Sixth in Willig’s series featuring present day academic Eloise Kelly researching the exploits of aristocratic English spies in the Napoleonic era, this latest installment moves to India, where intrigue abounds between the British, the French, and the Indians. Penelope Deveraux, a character introduced in the previous book, has been hastily married off to Lord Frederick Staines, who compromised her (with her willing participation), and both are shipped off to India where Freddy will be the special envoy to the Governor General.

By now, this series follows a formula—the heroine, sometimes spunky, sometimes prickly, spars with the hero until they admit their love for each other, while in the present day, American Eloise advances her relationship with British Colin, descendant of the ring of flower-named spies. I’ve found the mysteries have more depth when the heroine is prickly, and Penelope is that, plus unhappily married. Her hero is Captain Alex Reid, as straitlaced as she is reckless. They are caught up in the tension between the Governor General and the Resident, to whom Alex reports, who is suspect for having married an Indian woman. Willig masterfully captures India and its allure at the beginning of the 19th century.