The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lately, I've been reading lots of historical fiction and romances and as I've sampled a bit more of the field, I find that Ms. Willig's stories have improved in my opinion. And while that may be a bit of a backhanded compliment, it does mean that I liked the latest installment of Pink better than many of the previous books.
The dual story used throughout the series keeps things moving at a nice clip. While the Regency spies Emma and Augustus are risking their lives to foil Bonaparte's latest plan (whilst falling in love...of course), the modern couple, Eloise and Colin, grapples with relationship issues (after all, they've been dating for 6... whole... months). While this device has been used many times before (one of the first I recall reading was in A.S. Byatt's "Possession") I think that the author uses it to good effect, balancing the narrative between the two worlds, and sneaking in fun little references from one story to the other.
The wannabe research librarian in me also appreciates the HIstorical Note at the end of the book where Willig shares a few historical sources. While some historical fiction feels like a contemporary story with historical detail slapped on after the fact, "The Garden Intrigue" creates a sense of time and place that feels authentic.
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