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The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (Pink Carnation #1)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  18,491 Ratings  ·  1,998 Reviews
Deciding that true romantic heroes are a thing of the past, Eloise Kelly, an intelligent American who always manages to wear her Jimmy Choo suede boots on the day it rains, leaves Harvard's Widener Library bound for England to finish her dissertation on the dashing pair of spies the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian. What she discovers is something the finest histor ...more
Hardcover, 388 pages
Published February 7th 2005 by Dutton Adult (first published October 10th 2004)
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Community Reviews

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I feel compelled to defend why I read this book in the first place – which is never good. And in this case, it is difficult, because I myself am still trying to understand why. The title, cover, and plot summary were flashing caution lights. A perusal of several reviews was not encouraging. Why, oh why, did I not heed the warnings?

If I am going to be honest, it came down to these two points:

1) I already had plans to attend an event with author, Tasha Alexander. As the date approached, I learned
This is what I get for being lulled into a false sense of security by a nice cover and an interesting premise. This book promised to be a historical fiction with a bit of mystery thrown in. Instead, it turned out to be a banal bodice-ripping generically bad Regency romance novel.

I could deal with the fact that the “modern” parts of the book were completely unnecessary. I could even deal with the fact that the way people spoke/acted in the 19th century parts and the modern parts were exactly the
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: oversexed and underaged pseudo-history buffs
Shelves: junk
I would rather like my two hours back that I spent on this book. It's not that it was bad, rather, it had an intriguing premise, but the past/future aspects were poorly merged, the part of the story set in present day was absolutely unsatisfying and the Georgian smut felt out of place, perhaps because of the highly formal nature she tried to give the characters.

The lesson to be learned there is you can't do Pride and Prejudice with an R rating.
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was bitterly disappointed in this book. Given the quality hard cover, the lovely cover art and the blurb, I was expecting something that strives to be Heyer or Austen. I would have been happy with something that fell along the lines of Tasha Alexander or Deanna Raybourne. Heck, I would counted myself lucky if the book had been vaguely reminiscent of Mary Balogh or Julia Quinn. Instead I got something that fell far short of all of those.

Instead of sparkling wit of Heyer and the mannered prose o
May 23, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, this book started out so cute! It's a great mix of historical fiction (granted with several liberties taken), chick lit, and a cute little Superman/Lois Lane man-in-a-mask love story. It was just a fun read. Until the sex scene... So I don't recommend it. In hind sight, although it was cute, it also was very shallow to begin with.

I HATE it when fun books turn out to be dirty when you're already half way through. Does anyone know if there's a website out there that gives tv/movie type rati
Lisa Kay
a) Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis)
b) Pink Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus)
a) Purple Gentian (Gentiana verna)
d) Pink Champagne!

a) descriptionb) [image error]

c)descriptiond)[image error]

★★★★✩ This is a review of the audiobook, narrated by Kate Reading, who did a wonderful job on this charming intro to the Pink Carnation series. I cannot recall hearing her before; but, luckily she reads the rest of the audio series as well, so I certainly look forward to listening to her.

I guess you could call this one an “h
If you go into this expecting historical fiction with Napoleonic spy action, you’re likely to be disappointed. I was expecting more of a historical mystery / spy adventure, but soon caught on and was able to adjust and enjoy it for what it is. And what it is, is a fairly typical fluffy Regency Romance, except that it’s set in the French court and does have a dose of spies to make it more interesting. Confirming its status as a Romance series is the fact that the main characters change in each bo ...more
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Where I got the book: bought retail (yes! full price!) from my local indie bookstore at an author event.

The plot: it's 1803 and Amy, who grew up dreaming of joining the Scarlet Pimpernel's league of daring rescuers, is on her way to France to join her brother. The Scarlet Pimpernel has retired, and now the Purple Gentian stands between England and the machinations of Napoleon, so naturally Amy wants to be on his team. She must not allow herself to be distracted by handsome Lord Richard Selwick..
Jan 28, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was crap. It was just complete and total crap. The thing that made me the most angry is that at the back of the book the author has a "historical note" where she talks about this garbage in light of its place in the "historical fiction" genre. Oh. My. Gosh. THERE WAS NOTHING HISTORICAL ABOUT IT! The Scarlet Letter is historical fiction. Cold Mountain is historical fiction. This, as I have already said, is crap. Mentioning Napoleon and the year 1803 does not make a book historical ficti ...more
Don't be fooled by the cover: this book is a romance novel pretending to be historical fiction. I was completely shocked when the first sex scene started (in a small boat on a river which was currently being rowed by someone else! I kept thinking I had missed something and the rower had left the boat, but no). Along with the requisite sex, there are also the requisite shallow protagonists. I kept thinking there must be more to the characters (because I was duped by the cover!), but they really a ...more
Mishelle LaBrash

I ADORED this book... The author had me sold on the rest of the series and any of her future contributions to the book addict cause, within the few pages of the prologue..

A combination of Julia Quinn's wit, and C.S. Harris and Deanna Raybourn's sleuth story talent all rolled up with what is obviously, and originally 100% Lauren Willig...

The characters we're real, perfectly flawed and
Oct 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun, very light hearted and not at all serious read. It's full of ridiculous and ludicrous situations and happenings. If you know that and are in the mood for it, you should enjoy it.

There were parts I really enjoyed and also times where I found myself bored. I did however like the way the book ended with Eloise and Colin. Definitely bodes for another adventure. I also like the way the girl in modern day is reading the story of the past which you as the reader delve into. The concept
Oct 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of historical romance, chick lit, or swashbuckling films
Recommended to Kim by: my friend Becky
This book is hard to categorize, but it's a lot of fun. Eloise Kelly is a klutzy, directionally challenged graduate student in history (not like anybody I know) who is trying to discover the identity of the Pink Carnation, a spy in the mode of the Scarlet Pimpernel. The key, she believes, may lie in Selwick Hall, the estate of another aristocratic spy, the Purple Gentian, aka Richard Selwick. When Mrs. Selwick-Alderly grants her access to a box full of family papers, letters and journals dating ...more
Jan 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cynthia by: Michelle
I really enjoyed this book. It was humorous and cute. This book follows Amy, a wannabe spy adventurer, who tries to join The Purple Gentian's spy network against France shortly after the French Revolution. Of course nothing goes smoothly for the slightly dizzy heroine. The author combines historical fiction with fun chick lit, mostly focusing on Amy's romance with the Purple Gentian. I like both types of work so I enjoyed the combination.

I read some reviews of this book on Amazon and found peopl
Beth F.
If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck it must be a duck, right? Right? Guess again, pal, because this book is no duck. It’s more like a jackelope.

Just take a look at how people have this thing shelved, I dare you. Is it historical fiction? Is it chick lit? Is it a romance novel? Is it a mystery? What is it really? It made me ask myself, “Can a book like this actually exist in the wilds of its reader’s imaginations or is it so mythically unbelievable that it better watch itself for the r
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Etant une quiche en anglais, je suis malheureusement tributaire des éditions françaises, qui c'est bien connu ne sont pas des foudres de guerre au niveau de l'actualité littéraire. En plus de cela j'ai des amies plus que vicieuses qui ont eu la bonne idée de me faire saliver avec cette série. Autant dire que je suis sur des charbons ardents et que j'en attends beaucoup, j'espère ne pas être déçue

Bilan après la fin de ma lecture. Il est vrai qu'à force d'en attendre que du bien j’avais un peu peu
Oct 11, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 19thcentury
This was one of those books that I found easier to read once I gave up any expectations I started with, and I will confess that it did redeem itself in my eyes by the end. It was a cute but predictable story about the hijinks surrounding the doings and identities of the preposterously-named Purple Gentian and Pink Carnation, not that the names really mattered that much. We mostly follow the dense Amy about as she desperately but naively tries to enter the world of espionage. Both she and her lov ...more
The first in Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series. I found this gem in the library. My first by this author and coincidentally the author's first. I was pleasantly pleased with it. I wasn't sure I would be when I opened the first page. I'm not a fan of 1st person POV but I kept on and realized the whole book is not written that way and I came to enjoy the parts that were. This is one of those stories in a story. It starts with a young American woman seeking information for her dissertation on s ...more
Choosing a light read is a tricky business. It's like icing on a cake - too little, and all you have is cake; too much, and you're overwhelmed with fluff and sugar. I picked up this book because I wanted to read something with no murders in it, and besides, Napoleonic spy capers with women! Fun stuff! Surely this was the right amount of icing. I was even willing to overlook the fact that the contemporary heroine, Eloise, was the type that knew what brand her boots were and just had to mention it ...more
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, chick-lit
This is a genre romance novel with pretensions of grandeur.

I was intrigued by this book because of it's duel format. It features a Harvard Ph.D. candidate in history researching the famous (in her world at least!) Pink Carnation, a British spy during the Napoleonic Wars. Eloise, the student, travels to London after a bad break up and decides to research primary sources on the Pink Carnation. The novel opens with her in a slight jam--she's crushed in an overcrowded Tube ride, has spilled coffee o
It was a good written historical romance, rather for young adults and chick-lit, with a little adventure (mystery). I have enjoyed it.

Nonetheless, I can't say I can't wait to read another book of series. I prefer more realistic historical romances. Here, there were too many too unrealistic scenes (e.g. a love scene on the boat in the Paris, or how they worked as spies).

The best part was a humor. It had a few really funny situations. But, when I want a witty historical romance, not necessary very
Apr 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
I love the Scarlet Pimpernel and Willig has taken the foundation laid by Baroness Orczy and expanded it, creating the Purple Gentian and the Pink Carnation. Two stories in one, the book follows modern day scholar Eloise who is determined to unmask the Pink Carnation as well as Amy, a woman who lived in the time of Napoleon who seeks to join the League of the Purple Gentian. Part historical novel, part romance, and part adventure, this was a surprisingly good read. I will definitely be picking up ...more
Oct 03, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I guess I liked this book enough to finish it, but there are some things that bothered me about this book enough that I couldn't give it three stars. It could possibly be that I simply don't like explicit romance novels. The mystery is what kept me reading past the lame descriptions of how men can't control themselves around women. Perhaps the author believes the modern fallacy that it's impossible to be chaste when you're in love. Or maybe I'm being prudish. Like I said, romance novels aren't m ...more
Rosanne Lortz
“Sync’ me! If it isn’t that demmed, elusive pimpernel!” The Scarlet Pimpernel has always been a favorite of mine, the book, the musical, and both the movie versions–starring Leslie Howard (1934) and Anthony Andrews (1982). Perusing several historical fiction blogs, I was intrigued to learn that Lauren Willig has created a whole spin-off series from the original Pimpernel books by Baroness Orczy.

The premise of the first book, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, is that after Percy Blakeney
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
First and foremost, let me say how terribly delighted I am with Lauren Willig. Not only for delighting me with her own story and characters and lines, but also for all the homages she makes to others of my favorite authors, such as this nod to Austen on page 244: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that one only comes up with clever, cutting remarks long after the other party is happily slumbering away." And this wink at Shakespeare on page 247: "Out, out damned ex!" There are more (too many ...more
Just a quickie review - I'm knackered and my eyes feel like someone poking sticks into them from staring at my screen all day..

I picked it up online from my library. It seems that everyone on the planet other than me had read it, so I thought I'd give it a go.

I love the whole Scarlet Pimpernel thing. I've not yet read the book, but the original movie with Leslie Howard and Raymond Massey is one of my absolute faves, and I'm really not into that whole black-and-white movie thing. I also have an u
Jennifer Osterman
I am all for comedic books and light reads, and regency romances...but this one is just plain silly. Based on the premise, I expected a tale of intrigue, romance and danger. What I got was a tale of idiocy, sex and bumbling. The present-day Harvard student and the 1803 "well-bred" lady who traipses about like a street urchin and practically loses her virginity on a canal boat in front of a boatman without even a second thought think the same, speak the same and act the same. The only reason that ...more
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Lauren Willig is the New York Times bestselling author of sixteen works of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association's annual list of the best genre fiction. After graduating from Yale University, she embarked on a PhD in English History at Harvard before ...more
More about Lauren Willig...

Other Books in the Series

Pink Carnation (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • The Masque of the Black Tulip (Pink Carnation, #2)
  • The Deception of the Emerald Ring (Pink Carnation, #3)
  • The Seduction of the Crimson Rose (Pink Carnation, #4)
  • The Temptation of the Night Jasmine (Pink Carnation, #5)
  • The Betrayal of the Blood Lily (Pink Carnation, #6)
  • The Mischief of the Mistletoe (Pink Carnation, #7)
  • The Orchid Affair (Pink Carnation, #8)
  • The Garden Intrigue (Pink Carnation, #9)
  • The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (Pink Carnation, #10)
  • The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla (Pink Carnation, #11)

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