Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review: The Orchid Affair - Lauren Willig

Barnes & Noble made a delivery to my house yesterday, including the newest release in Willig's Pink Carnation series - The Orchid Affair.  I sat down this morning with the book, thinking I'd start it while I drank my morning coffee.  Three hours later, I had a half a cup of cold coffee and a completed book.  Needless to say, once I started the book, I didn't put it down.

This installment of the series is back to being fabulous.  Don't get me wrong, I've thoroughly enjoyed the series as a whole -- just some more than others.  The Orchid Affair though is the perfect blend of history and fiction, with a bit of humor thrown in as well. 

Like the majority of the books, the Pink Carnation herself is not the main character in the book.  Instead, we have Laura Grey...a quiet, serious governess who after 16 years of tending to other people's children realizes she needs to do something to find herself again.  Laura joins the Selwick Spy School, and for her first assignment, she is sent to France and the household of Andre Jaouen, the deputy minister of police, as a governess. 

Despite her misgivings, Laura is making inroads in the spying business, trying to determine what Andre's business and plans really are.  Laura becomes embroiled in trying to find out more about a plot to restore the royal family to the throne in France...thinking that Andre is trying to thwart it and that she can get the information she needs through her work there.  Yet nothing is quite as it seems, and soon she, Andre and his family are on the run.

Willig does a great job of providing enough history to make it all seem real, yet giving the reader a fun story full of intrigue and interesting characters.  The side story set in more present times, ties the past and current Selwick families together.  Eloise and Colin have great interactions with each other and Colin's crazy family.  While I'm always left anticipating the next in the series (because in each one you see characters who you're sure deserve their own book -- like the dramatic "poet" in Orchid) I always feel the little we get on Colin and Eloise is just a teaser...and I'm always left wanting MORE...NOW!

The Orchid Affair is a wonderful read that will grab you from the first and, as I found out, not let you stop until you're done.  I'm already bemoaning the fact that it's likely another year before we get the next Pink Carnation book.  Yet if it takes a year to turn out another great book like this, it's worth the wait...but I didn't say I'd wait patiently!

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