The Temptation of the Night Jasmine
Fifth in Willig’s “Pink Carnation” series, this latest outing finds historian Eloise Kelly sidetracked in her search for the floral spy of the Napoleonic era. Instead, she becomes engrossed in the story of Lady Charlotte (best friend of Lady Henrietta, heroine of The Masque of the Black Tulip) and her love for her long-lost cousin Robert. Having sold his commission, Robert has returned from India to infiltrate the debauched Hellfire Club to avenge the murder of his mentor, Colonel Arbuthnot. Falling in love with Charlotte and discovering a plot to drive King George to madness once again did not figure into his plans.
Although Willig’s books follow a formula—man and woman fall in love while misunderstandings abound and the British Empire is saved—each book has featured a distinctive couple, and this latest is no exception. Charlotte is the first to admit she prefers novels and fantasy to real life but proves to be more adept than she thinks at facing reality. Robert is more tortured by his past and his deception of the woman he loves than previous heroes (excepting perhaps Lord Vaughn of The Seduction of the Crimson Rose). Devotees of all things royal get a tantalizing peek into the household of King George. My only complaint (and spoiler alert) is that the Night Jasmine plays a fairly insignificant role.