Lauren Willig, The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla
In the autumn of 1806, a popular novel called The Convent of Orsino (written by none other than Miss Gwen!) has sparked a vampire craze in fashionable society. Rumors swirl around one man in particular — Lucien, Duke of Belliston — whose long absence from society is seen as evidence that he is a creature of the night. Practical, outspoken Sally Fitzhugh is determined to prove this rumor false, so she seeks out an acquaintance with the duke. For Lucien, the rumor escalates from inconvenient to dangerous when a young woman is murdered at a society ball, with what appear to be fang marks on her throat. Lucien and Sally quickly realize that someone is framing Lucien for the murder, so together they decide to find the real killer. Is it someone with a personal grudge against Lucien, or could the nefarious French spy known as the Black Tulip be at work again? The more time Lucien and Sally spend together, the more they are drawn to each other; but before they can be together, they must defeat a cunning killer.
This 11th novel in the Pink Carnation series once again combines romance, historical fiction, and a touch of intrigue for a very enjoyable read. I wasn’t totally enthused about the plot of this installment beforehand, since vampires aren’t really my thing, but fortunately they’re not a big part of the story. I also didn’t completely warm up to Lucien or Sally, both of whom seem like types rather than characters…Sally in particular just seems like a younger version of Miss Gwen. But there’s still an awful lot to enjoy in this book! I was pleasantly surprised by the resolution of the mystery, which is quite clever and hangs together well. And as always, I adore the light, tongue-in-cheek tone of the series; it doesn’t take itself too seriously and aims to be entertaining above all else. I should mention that the contemporary story takes some significant steps forward in this installment, with Eloise facing important decisions both personally and professionally. So I’m really looking forward to the next (and last!) Pink Carnation novel, which will finally tell the story of the Carnation herself!
3 thoughts on “Review: The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla”
I had fun with this one too! I feel like Willig has started leaning towards “types” more in recent books, but I actually enjoyed Sally a bit more. I won’t swear she’s deep and complex, but at least she was funny! And I’m in favor of any plot that brings in more of Turnip (Mistletoe is still my favorite installment) Definitely looking forward to finally reading the Carnation’s story!
Sally certainly was funny, I’ll give her that! And I’m a Turnip fan as well…I never would have believed he could be a compelling romantic hero before Mistletoe! Now you’ve got me thinking about what my favorite installment would be. I do have a soft spot for the supercilious Vaughns, and also for Miles and Henrietta…