THE PASSION OF THE PURPLE PLUMERIA
The Passion of the Purple Plumeria is the 10th in Willig’s Pink Carnation series. Following the now-formulaic dual plotlines of Eloise and Colin in 2004 and the Pink Carnation and her cohorts in 1805, Willig finally introduces us to some more mature spies — blending their escapades into another well-crafted, engaging thriller.
Secluded at Sedgwick Hall, Colin and Eloise await her departure back to the Cambridge on the American side of the pond. They are spurred on by Colin’s cousin/stepfather Jeremy’s hunt for the heretofore undiscovered hidden treasure including the Moon of Berar. Meanwhile, the Pink Carnation’s young sister has been kidnapped along with her schoolmate Lizzy Reid. Unwilling to chance her sister being in danger, Jane Wooliston and her chaperone, the prim and proper novelist Miss Gwendolyn Meadows, head back to England where they encounter Colonel Reid, Lizzy’s father, whose rapier wit is a match for Gwendolyn’s own. A devious opera singer, mysterious rites and highway brigands push the two closer and deeper into the hunt for the Gardener, a French spymaster who seems a little too close to weeding out the Pink Carnation and her agents. Along the way, Gwendolyn barely notices that she may have found a treasure she had stopped believing in. (NAL, Aug., 434 pp., $15.00)