After discovering the true identity of the Pink Carnation, Eloise Kelly has managed to finagle an invitation to Selwick Hall to see more of the family papers. Her reluctant host is Colin Selwick, which was an interesting break considering he was adamantly against allowing her access to them at all. Though Eloise has discovered the identity of the Pink Carnation, she is eager to identify another flower spy- this one working for the French. The Black Tulip is perhaps even more elusive than the Pink Carnation, and far more deadly.

In the early 19th century, Richard Selwick’s younger sister Henrietta is discovering this same fact. Though her brother and family members have long discouraged Henrietta becoming a part of the League of the Purple Gentian, the Pink Carnation has agreed to allow her to take on a small role. That role, however, lands her in trouble, and she is captured by the Black Tulip. It is up to Richard’s best friend, Miles Dorrington, to save Henrietta.

The story is, of course, a romance between Miles and Henrietta, but it is one that is born of long years of easy friendship. As such, it’s much easier to read than the relationship between Richard and Amy in the previous novel. It seems so natural for them to progress from friendship into romance, because it was clearly just a matter of time before they did.

What is also interesting is the growing truce between Colin and Eloise. It is clear in the first novel that he had no interest in allowing her access to the family archives, and his aunt has tricked him into allowing Eloise to view the papers at the family estate. But as the second novel progresses, Colin relaxes quite a bit and becomes more comfortable with Eloise. By the time the novel ends, however, she is even more confused about Colin than she had been before.

Overall, I thought this was much better than the first book. Though I still don’t love the love scenes, the relationship between Henrietta and Miles felt much more authentic (this is probably due in large part to the fact that Amy and Richard met, fell in love, and married in a relatively short amount of time in the first novel). Again, I recommend this for those who like historical romances, but wouldn’t recommend it for those who prefer their historical fiction be romance-free.

See my review of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation here.

Buy The Masque of the Black Tulip on Amazon