Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria by Lauren Willig

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria.  Lauren Willig.  Penguin Group (USA). August 2013. 480 pp. hbk. ISBN #: 9780451414724.

Eloise is researching for a Ph.D. on the Pink Carnation, Miss Jane Wooliston, a spy who seems to have slipped off the usual radar tracking her whereabouts.  Gwen can't figure out where she or he is, probably a she, or what political intrigue she was immersed in. Eloise's boyfriend, Colin, is not much interested in that but in why his cousin and yes, stepfather, Jeremy is showing up.  Colin believes he is searching for the lost Jewels of Barar.  Colin describes to Eloise the only poem that offers elusive clues to the those famous jewels believed to be have been stolen from India and perhaps now hidden in Selwick House in England: Hard by Plumeria's bower/Underneath the Brooding Tower/The Moon awaits its hard-won hour!

Two hundred years earlier circumstances seem to have gone awry and Miss Gwen must abandon her work with the Pink Carnation to return to England, a return to mundane living she dreads.  But then a major problem arrives with a message that the daughter of the returned Colonel William Reid's and her friend who is the sister of the Pink Carnation have disappeared from the residential school in Bath, England where they were supposed to be in safe hands and careful watch. So Gwen must abandon her intrigue with the Pink Carnation and the secret plot involving the Turkish ambassador and France in the days during the Napoleonic Wars.  Gwen meets Colonel William Reid and the chemistry between them is rather sharp, to say the least.  However, they realize they must travel and work together in order to find the missing girls. During the rest of the novel, we read about the past history of both characters, fraught with misunderstanding with family and other chaotic events that have both strengthened them in many ways but also left them particularly vulnerable to easy ideas about romance, love, and children.  Yes the children will be found and yes the mystery about the lost jewels of Barar will be solved but in no way the reader can anticipate, with the addition of a slowly evolving but passionate romance. It will also involve some family members who are completely unlike what their parents imagine.  

Spies, double spies, attacks, wounded heroes, and more fill these pages with a ripping good thriller and mystery.

The Passion of the Purple Plumeria is a literary romance and mystery that will delight all those who love either genres and leave them wanting to read the other books in this series, as well as the next one that this talented writer is planning and writing for future release!  Very nicely done, Lauren Willig! Quite a different, flexible style to her novel, The Ashford Affair, which is a terrific read as well!

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