The Deception of the Emerald Ring by Lauren Willig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Deception of the Emerald Ring is the third book in Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series and I have to confess I haven't read the first two. But it seems to stand well on its own. It's a light read, which means that although the characters get into some dangerous situations, they never stop tossing quips at each other. That's fun, but I suppose it could be disappointing to someone expecting a serious spy novel, especially since this is based on a real situation when France, England's enemy at the time, was conspiring with Irish rebels against the crown.
The plot is about a nineteenth century, English marriage between Letty Alsworthy and Lord Geoffrey Pinchingdale that comes about through a series of events including a mistaken identity, a botched elopement, and an over the top sense of honor that doesn't seem well advised. The romance in this book starts with a marriage rather than ending with one.
The 1800s story is bracketed by a modern tale about a woman researching the nineteenth century events as part of her work on her doctorate. I couldn't see any reason for the modern story, although it might have made more sense to me if I'd read the preceding books in the series.
One of the aspects of the book I found most interesting was Letty's relationship with her older sister, Mary. Lord Pinchingdale was supposed to marry Mary, not Letty. Letty was the less attractive, less sophisticated, sister. Mary had been trying to catch a suitable man for awhile and Lord Pinchingdale seemed her best hope.
Letty had a fair inkling of what Mary had been thinking. Letty's older sister had passed three Seasons as society's reigning incomparable. Three Seasons of amassing accolades, bouquets, even the odd sonnet, but shockingly few marriage proposals. Of the offers that had come in, three had been from younger sons, four from titles without wealth, and an even larger number from wealth without title. One by one, she had watched her more eligible suitors, the first sons, with coronets on their coaches and country estates to spare, contract matches with the chinless daughters of dukes, or bustling city heiresses.
Mary hadn't wanted to take any more chances so she planned an elopement. That's when things started going awry. Letty compares herself to her sister throughout the book in an intriguing manner that says more about her own self confidence than it does about her sister.
The Deception of the Emerald Ring is a fun read based on a real event. I enjoyed it.
Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions
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