Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Review: The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig

Book Info:
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: NAL Trade (December 27, 2005)
ISBN-13: 9781863254786
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Rating: 2.5/5

Nothing ever goes right for Eloise. The day she wears her new suede boots, it rains. When the subway stops short, she's the one thrown into some stranger's lap. And she's had her share of misfortune in the way of love. So, after deciding that romantic heroes must be a thing of the past, Eloise is ready for a fresh start.

Setting off for England, Eloise is determined to finish her dissertation on two spies, the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. But what she discovers is something historians have missed: the secret history of the Pink Carnation-the most elusive spy of all time. As she works to unmask this obscure spy, Eloise has more and more questions. Like, how did the Pink Carnation save England from Napoleon? What became of the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian? And will Eloise Kelly escape her bad luck and find a living, breathing hero of her own?

I have a bad habit when it comes to series books. If I hear of a series that sounds interesting I will immediately start collecting all the books in the series that are already published. I know that I really should read a book or two and decide if I even like the series before I do this, but for some reason I can't help myself...The Secret History of the Pink Carnation is a great example of why I really need to do this, as this book just wasn't for me. Luckily, I think I only have the first three in the series.

I would consider The Secret History of the Pink Carnation more historical romance than historical fiction, and if I'd known this before reading the book I probably wouldn't have even picked it up. While there were a few historical details in the book, the story could have been set in pretty much any time period. The plot pretty much revolved around the attraction of the main characters with a little mystery thrown in to break things up.

I found Amy, the main character in the historical setting, annoying. She was determined to be a spy, but I found her to be scattered and almost dim-witted. She jumped to some of the most ridiculous conclusions. I think this must have been meant to be charming in a funny sort of way, but it didn't work for me.

Eloise, the main character in the modern setting, hardly showed up in the book at all. As she is supposed to be the link that ties all the books together I was surprised how little of her we see. I didn't find her part all that inspiring either. The brief glimpses we see of her are pretty standard chick lit.

I know there are lots of people who like this series, but it didn't work for me at all and I won't continue reading it. If you enjoy your historical books with more romance in them, this may be a series for you. 2.5 stars


Sandy Nawrot said...

You know, I love Outlander, which COULD be historical romance, if you look at it a certain way. But it is going to have to really work hard for me to like something in this genre. Don't feel bad, I do the same thing with series, and have been burned a time or two!

The Tome Traveller said...

Oh, this is so funny. I do the same thing! For some reason I am compelled to own ALL of the available books in a series before I will even read one of them. In fact, I have all of THIS series. And I haven't read any of them. Now I'm interested to see if I will like them or not. Great review, sorry it wasn't for you...

Anonymous said...

I remember picking this book up a few years ago just because I loved the cover. I turned out to not like it so much either, but I could totally understand buying all the books just because the covers are soooo gorgeous!!!

Mimi said...

I seem to have escaped that compulsion, I'll pick up the first one, and if I don't like it, not get the rest.

I've heard about this book, but I think I'll skip it.

Zibilee said...

I do the same thing! I feel I just need to collect the whole series, when I haven't even read the first book. I really need to stop doing this, as it has come back to bite me more than once. I am sorry you didn't like this book. I had heard others say it wasn't very good as well, so I haven't really been to interested in checking them out.

Marie Cloutier said...

Eh, what can you do? Sorry it didn't work out.

Melissa said...

I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one that is a series hoarder!

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

I do the same thing too! I always fear that I will love a series and not have the next book ready to be read.

Ironically, this is one series I only have the first book of. I found it in the bargain bin at my bookshop and thought it looked interesting. Sorry it wasn't for you : I'm not really into romance novels, but I do like when my books have some romance in them. I'll have to read this one to know whether it's for me or not!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I recall borrowing this one from the library when it first came out, but I was unable to get into it. I thought maybe it was me?

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Melissa....would you like Song of Renewal (ARC) by Sue Harvey, if so email me your info and I'd be happy to send it to you.