Author Lauren Willig
After twelve years in India, Robert, duke of Dovedale, returns to his estate in England to avenge the murder of his mentor during the 1803 Battle of Assaye. Robert plans to infiltrate the infamous, secretive Hellfire Club to uncover the murderer’s identity; but he has no idea that an even more difficult challenge awaits him: one Lady Charlotte Lansdowne. Having cherished a romanticized view of Robert since childhood, Charlotte is thrilled by his return. To Charlotte, Robert is all the Knights of the Round Table rolled into one. That’s not exactly the case, but she can’t help but search for the man she loves inside this less-than-pristine package. And while Robert works to dissuade Charlotte from her delusions, he can’t help but be drawn to her innocence and inner beauty. When Charlotte is approached by Lady Henrietta Selwick to join her in a bit of espionage, investigating a plot to kidnap the king, Robert soon realizes that Charlotte is not only the perfect partner in crime; she’s the perfect partner, period. Caught in a dangerous game with deadly flower-named spies and secret members of the Hellfire Club, Robert and Charlotte must work together to reveal the villain and confront their true passion for each other.Review: I suppose there comes a time and in this case, by the fifth book, that ideas run thin. This particular installment in the Pink Carnation series is being hailed as a modern Pride and Prejudice. About the only thing the two novels have in common is the time period and clothes. It seems Willig simply borrowed the basic plot to fill in the blanks for this lukewarm scheme. The villain, the Night Jasmine, is barely present. Instead, he moves like a cardboard figure throughout the story, making cameo appearances before darting off into the night. Eloise and Collin are about as vanilla as can be, disappointingly so, since this is the beginning of a budding transatlantic relationship. Collin's mysterious secret is just as steamy as their sex life, not much of one. The introduction of the Hellfire Club has enormous promise, but lacks intrigue. Willig simply pulls from rushed research and creates a fictional character to helm the ship. However, it too is flat and provides no more sinister insight than a quick Google search would get the reader on the subject. This one just didn't do it for me. It was pieced together with some history and characters borrowed from previous books -- but the new additions flopped like fish out of water. Sadly, Charlotte and Robert failed to fill the huge promise of another Elizabeth and Mr. D'arcy.