Things are finally starting to move forward for Eloise Kelly and Colin Selwick. After a particularly inauspicious start, Eloise has finally managed to secure a date with Colin. She’s also hard at work combing the archives of Sebastian, Lord Vaughn, a contemporary and associate of the Pink Carnation. This time, it is Vaughn who is the focus of her research as she tries to discover just what it is Vaughn was really up to during this time. Was he, as Miles Dorrington and Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe suspected, the Black Tulip?
In the 19th century, meanwhile, Lord Vaughn is having a hell of a time. The Pink Carnation has asked him to recruit Mary Alsworthy (the jilted sister from The Deception of the Emerald Ring) and place her in the path of the Black Tulip. It is the Carnation’s hope that the Black Tulip will in turn recruit Mary to be one of his agents, and she in turn will work with the Carnation and Vaughn to bring the Tulip down. Yet Vaughn has other worries, including the seeming resurrection of a wife he’d thought long dead. So his attraction to Mary is inconvenient at best (and really, not at all surprising to readers).
Overall, I actually have kind of mixed feelings about this book. The story line between Eloise and Colin has improved after taking a rather annoying turn in book three. And I really, really loved the levels of sarcasm that characterized the interactions between Mary and Vaughn. But as I was reading, I kept feeling that something was missing or off, and for the life of me, I’m not really sure what it is.
I definitely found this book to be much better than the previous installment in this series, though, so if you enjoyed earlier books in the series, I think you will enjoy this one as well.