The Orchid Affair

Written by Lauren Willig
Review by Ellen Keith

I am a huge fan of Willig’s Pink Carnation series. Alternating between the past and present, the series’ conceit is present-day academic Eloise Kelly’s research into English spies of the Scarlet Pimpernel’s ilk during and after the French Revolution. The Orchid Affair is the eighth in the series (spies have flower monikers), and it falls into the type I like best of Willig’s books—slightly darker with a damaged hero and heroine who are more wary of each other rather than naive and romantic. The orchid of the title is Laura Gray, a governess trained at the Selwick Spy School to infiltrate the house of widower Andre Jaouen, highly placed in the Minister of Police’s office. Both Laura and Andre have secrets but must rely on one another when they end up on the run with Andre’s children and an elderly friend. Will they fall in love? Was Bonaparte short?

Willig ably evokes the menace directed at Royalists during the First French Empire as well as the uneasy alliance between the English and the French. I usually enjoy Eloise’s story as much as the historical lovers, and this time was no exception as we learn more about her boyfriend Colin’s fractured family and see their relationship evolve. As always, I anxiously await the next floral installment.