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Laura Gray has spent half her life being a governess. So when her first mission for the Pink Carnation lands her a job posing as the governess to the assistant to the Minister of Police, Andre Jaouen, it doesn’t require much acting on her part. As she plays out her mission, she finds herself using both her training as a governess and her training from Selwick Spy School. And as she becomes further involved with her mission (and with Andre), she learns that there are some things even the best training can’t prepare her for.

This is the Pink Carnation book I’ve been awaiting for quite some time. While I enjoyed both The Temptation of the Night Jasmine and The Betrayal of the Blood Lily (and more recently, The Mischief of the Mistletoe), I felt like they were beginning to stray from the Pink Carnation storyline just a touch more than I would have liked. This novel happily brought about both the return of the Carnation herself and the return of original hero Richard Selwick- and not just in a ten-second cameo at a house party somewhere.

As heroines go, Laura’s a break from the heroines throughout the rest of the series (with the possible exception of Arabella Dempsey from The Mischief of the Mistletoe). Unlike the others, she doesn’t have a deep social and family network for support- she’s all on her own, learning to depend and rely on others. And I found her to be absolutely refreshing. Andre, too, is a break from the other heroes. At first glance, his values are much different from those the Carnation and her network are working for- particularly since he works for the French government.

Back in the 21st century, Eloise and Colin continue to be as charming as ever. Eloise has found someone that makes her happy, but the drama here focuses on upheavals in Colin’s personal life, culminating in a surprising development for Selwick Hall.

Overall, I was extremely happy with this novel, and I am so glad we’re back to the spies. For those who, like me, were beginning to be frustrated by the deviation from the Pink Carnation’s activities, this book will be very welcome.

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