The Deception of the Emerald Ring

Written by Lauren Willig
Review by Margaret Barr

Letty Alsworthy, the responsible member of an eccentric family in early 19th century England, is seriously concerned about her beautiful sister’s plan to elope with a peer. In preventing Mary from making a dreadful – and scandalous – mistake, she succeeds in compromising herself. Thus Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe finds himself married to the younger sister he hardly knows rather than the one he adores. Resentful of the way Letty manipulated him into marriage, he doesn’t object when the League of the Purple Gentian requires him to travel to Ireland. A French-supported rebellion is imminent, and he is expected to thwart the Marquise of Montval (the Black Tulip) and any other spies placed there by the enemy.

In the present day, American historian Eloise Kelly struggles with her attraction to handsome Englishman Colin Selwick, whose family papers proved useful in solving previous mysteries connected to the female spy she is researching. In the British Library she uncovers evidence of Letty Alsworthy’s connection to Pinchingdale-Snipe, and ponders their association with Jane Wooliston, the Pink Carnation. She also sticks a tentative toe into the dating pool, with mixed results.

The principal characters are lively and witty – classical allusions abound – and their repartee, however silly, is enjoyable. History, romance, danger, and high society collide in wonderful ways in the latest installment in Willig’s intelligent and well-written series.