Saturday, April 11, 2009

Book Review: The Temptation of the Night Jasmine

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine is the fifth book in Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series. The series is based around an American graduate student names Eloise who goes to England to work on her dissertation/thesis. She is writing about spies during the Napoleonic Wars, post-French Revolution era. (Think the Scarlet Pimpernel.) When the matriarch of a noble family allows her access to the family papers, Eloise uncovers a whole group of flower-named spies. Eloise also catches the attention of the matriarch's nephew, Colin.

The books are light on Eloise's story, and heavy on the historical stories of the people she's researching. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, but I haven't been too crazy about the others. Mostly because so much time elapses between each publication, and I don't reread them, that I forget who is who and what went on in the last book. That's partially why I liked this book more than most.

The heroine in this book is Charlotte, who is a close friend of Henrietta, the heroine of The Masque of the Black Tulip and sister of the hero in Pink Carnation. So there is a connection to the previous books, but really this story stands on its own.

Charlotte was the daughter of the Duke of Dovedale, who died when she was young. Her distant (distant) cousin Robert inherits, but he is very young (I think fifteen) and runs away to join the army in India. It could be that he runs away before he actually inherits, but I don't remember. He isn't much interested in being Duke so he leaves things to Charlotte's grandmother, the Dowager Duchess. But years later when his mentor in the army is murdered by a fellow soldier who then hightails it back to England, Robert vows to avenge his mentor. That requires him to enter society as the Duke of Dovedale.

When he returns, Robert takes immediate notice of his lovely cousin, and Charlotte has harbored a secret tendre for Robert since they were children. But in true romance novel fashion, noble Robert messes things up because he doesn't think he can pursue Charlotte and the killer at the same time.

Willig has a lot of elements going on in this story, which makes it interesting. Charlotte loves to read romantic novels and she soon has to face the reality that life does not always turn out the way it does in her books. And Robert is haunted by the ghost of his reprobate father and has all sorts of "I'm not worthy" issues. I just bought the Twilight DVD and I've been watching it recently, so that is probably why I felt like there were similarities between Robert and Edward Cullen. Both of them think that they're no good when obviously that's not the case. But that's a pretty standard device in romance novels, I guess.

Anyway, it's not a bad book. But beware, romance novel readers: THERE IS NO SEX. I know, right? That's ridiculous. Even more ridiculous that Eloise and Colin didn't get it on. What are you doing, Willig? Stringing us along until the very end? (I've heard it's meant to be a six book series.) I guess so. Damn it.

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