In the eyes of the world, Miss Gwendolyn Meadows is the fiercely protective chaperone of Miss Jane Wooliston, who is currently one of the belles of Parisian society. But since Jane is also the elite British spy known as the Pink Carnation, Miss Gwen’s duties also include strategy, swordsmanship, and a taste for the dangerous work of espionage. Miss Gwen thrives upon the excitement of her double life, but she is forced to return to England when Jane’s younger sister goes missing from her prestigious boarding school. A second girl has also disappeared: the youngest daughter of Colonel William Reid, an officer of the British East India Company who has recently returned to England to reunite with his daughters. Now Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid must work together to find the missing girls — and fight their increasing attraction to one another, because Miss Gwen is all too aware that her clandestine activities are the probable reason for the girls’ disappearance.
This is the 10th book in Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series, and as I expected, it was a fun Regency romp complete with legendary Indian treasure, a meeting of the Hellfire Club, and a sinister French master spy. I like the fact that Willig chose a more mature hero and heroine for this installment of the series; it lent a bit of substance to the story, although the book still retains the series’ trademark light and fluffy tone. Miss Gwen is in her 40s and has long despaired of ever finding romance, so the relationship between her and Colonel Reid is particularly sweet and satisfying. I also liked how Willig is starting to gather the loose threads from some of her earlier books; for example, Colonel Reid is the father of Alex Reid from The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, and some of the events of that novel are relevant to this story. I am really hoping that Jack Reid, the black sheep of the family, is a hero in one of the future Pink Carnation books! All in all, I’m still enjoying this series and will continue to read more by Willig.