The Seduction of the Crimson Rose

The Seduction of the Crimson Rose

Willig continues the exciting series with her fourth novel featuring Lord Vaughn, the delightfully devilish spy from The Masque of the Black Tulip, and Mary Alsworthy, the raven-haired beauty whose sister accidentally steals her suitor in The Deception of the Emerald Ring....

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Title:The Seduction of the Crimson Rose
Author:Lauren Willig
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Seduction of the Crimson Rose Reviews

  • Kelly

    I reviewed this book at my blog. Twice, since it's one I've re-read quite a number of times now. Here's the combined craziness:

    In The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, Lauren Willig has pulled off an extraordinary feat: She has taken a woman who was established to be a spoiled, somewhat conniving social-climber as her Regency heroine, and paired her with a man who, in two prior books, has shown himself to be a somewhat predatory and amoral rake at best, and a dangerous double-agent at worst - he's

    I reviewed this book at my blog. Twice, since it's one I've re-read quite a number of times now. Here's the combined craziness:

    In The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, Lauren Willig has pulled off an extraordinary feat: She has taken a woman who was established to be a spoiled, somewhat conniving social-climber as her Regency heroine, and paired her with a man who, in two prior books, has shown himself to be a somewhat predatory and amoral rake at best, and a dangerous double-agent at worst - he's too slippery to pin down, really - and she makes me love them both. With a big, hearty love. And that, my friends, is some Very Good Writing.

    In this, the fourth novel in the Pink Carnation series, we follow the story of Mary Alsworthy (sister to Letty, the heroine of The Deception of the Emerald Ring). Master spy, the Pink Carnation, has asked Lord Vaughn (rogue, bounder, scoundrel and somewhat pretentious cad) to enlist Mary's assistance in catching the Black Tulip - a French spy first introduced properly in The Masque of the Black Tulip. Vaughn never speaks in simple sentences when double entendres will do, and is a bit of a roué. Mary is, as stated, a social-climbing conniver who finds herself in the awkward position of being a hanger-on in the home of her younger sister, who accidentally eloped with Mary's intended beau; naturally, Letty and Geoff are blissfully happy in their romance, and Mary is, well, in a state of constant mortification.

    Mary and Vaughn have a lot in common, as well as a lot of issues to overcome. The plot moves along at a terrific pace, and is extremely interested. Once again, points to me for immediately sorting out the identity of the Black Tulip. I mean, I know I said that in book 2 as well, but I should qualify that I correctly identified the person acting in the capacity of the Black Tulip in that book, and I spotted the correct person in this one as well. I didn't, however, sort out the backstory for the Black Tulip, and was delighted to find it all out.

    I was also terribly delighted with Eloise Kelly's story in this one, Eloise being the modern-day researcher who is relating/reading/uncovering the Regency romance portion of the book (which occupies the vast majority of the pages). Eloise finally has her date with the dishy Colin Selwick in this book, as well as interacting with a nefarious archivist. I couldn't be more pleased, I think, than I was with this book.

    I realize that my fondness for this particular title in the series beginning with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation is based in part on my admiration for her taking an unlikeable woman and making her the heroine of the historical part, in part on her selection of the morally ambiguous and always urbane Lord Vaughn, in part on the modern-day romance between Eloise and Colin (which involves an actual date and first kiss in this particular book), and in part on the amount of poetry and Shakespeare that is quoted throughout the book, sometimes as chapter headers, and frequently in Vaughn's dialogue.

    "Break of Day" by John Donne, is quoted twice in the book. The last couplet ("He which hath business, and makes love, doth do/Such wrong, as when a married man doth woo") is quoted as an epigram to chapter 28, and the first two lines ("Tis true, 'tis day; what though it be?/O wilt thou therefore rise from me?") are spoken by Vaughn in chapter 26. So now I'm not only re-reading the book (as mentioned in Thursday's post), but also re-reading yesterday's poem selection. Plus, I'm about to embark on re-reading Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare, which is quoted several times as epigraphs to various chapters (along with quotes from Hamlet, King Lear, Measure for Measure, As You Like It, The Winter's Tale, and Richard III, and the text includes additional quotes and references from those plays as well as Romeo and Juliet as well). Additional references are made to Paradise Lost by John Milton, several other John Donne poems, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Robert Burns, and more.

    I have realized that I am a complete sucker for Shakespeare and other quotes. And now, I'm off. No, not "pursued by a bear."* I'm going to conclude my re-reading of the book, and then fish out my Complete Works of Shakespeare to start Much Ado About Nothing.

    *Points to you if you recognize that as the (perhaps most-famous ever) stage direction from The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare.

  • Mackenzie

    Lauren Willig's fourth

    book tells the story of two very SLYTHERIN characters (and do pardon me for the use of Harry Potter parallels).

    The girl is Mary Alsworthy (sister of Letty Alsworthy, the leading lady in the

    , who is portrayed as a haughty and opportunistic debutante. In Book 3, we learned that Mary schemed to get a viscount to marry him, only to have her plans foiled when the viscount decided to marry her sister instead. So her suitor became her brother-in-law and she isn't

    Lauren Willig's fourth

    book tells the story of two very SLYTHERIN characters (and do pardon me for the use of Harry Potter parallels).

    The girl is Mary Alsworthy (sister of Letty Alsworthy, the leading lady in the

    , who is portrayed as a haughty and opportunistic debutante. In Book 3, we learned that Mary schemed to get a viscount to marry him, only to have her plans foiled when the viscount decided to marry her sister instead. So her suitor became her brother-in-law and she isn't happy about it. She's very, very bitter about her situation in the beginning of this book and is decidedly bitchy about it. But I rather adore her bitchiness. I don't know why exactly. I just do.

    Her suitor in this book is the much older Sebastian, Lord Vaughn. Vaughn loves to speak in triple entendres and misquote Shakespeare. He's also bitter because he secretly loves Mary but can't do anything about his attraction to her, thanks to his not-quote-dead wife. At the request of the English spy Pink Carnation, together they both got busy trying to uncover the secret identity and treacherous plans of the deadly French spy, the Black Tulip. Somewhere during and after the (attempted) murder and mayhem, they overcame the major obstacles in their lives and got together.

    Let me now tell you why this is my favorite book in the series.

    As I've said before, both characters are so very Slytherin (I don't usually see characters in other books in

    terms, but the ones here are just so very representative of that particular House in HP that I can't resist myself!) They're cunning and manipulative and not above using other people to get their way. It's quite refreshing to see characters with grey morals like these because, even though the Pink Carnation series is more plot-and-suspense than bodice-ripping romance, the previous heroes and heroines are of the "dashing knights in shining armor" and "damsels in distress" type. Vaughn and Mary, on the other hand, are different. They're mature characters with obnoxious opinions and plenty of charm and sophistication.

    Oh, and, by the way, thanks to the whole Slytherin thing, I'm totally picturing Vaughn as Lucius Malfoy (except that his face is more Alan Rickman than Jason Isaacs, which is just as sexy, actually). I couldn't sleep for

    just thinking of Alan Rickman playing Vaughn. *laughs*

  • Lisa Kay

    I love this series! If anyone is looking for a good serial “buddy read,” this is the book for your group. That is, if everyone can commit to sticking to the reading schedule and not jump ahead. In that case, you’ll get a lot of this in answer to your Discussion Questions: “Sorry, I can’t answer; I read ahead.”

    Like most of my other “buddy read” members, I liked, not loved the main characters. Nevertheless, I truly appreciated that the author presents us with unique individuals for

    ★★★★½ I love this series! If anyone is looking for a good serial “buddy read,” this is the book for your group. That is, if everyone can commit to sticking to the reading schedule and not jump ahead. In that case, you’ll get a lot of this in answer to your Discussion Questions: “Sorry, I can’t answer; I read ahead.”

    Like most of my other “buddy read” members, I liked, not loved the main characters. Nevertheless, I truly appreciated that the author presents us with unique individuals for this, the fourth in the

    series, instead of the same cookie-cutter H/h. Like the rest of these novels, the plot and the pacing are spot-on – and I think the suspense may even be better.

    Special Note: I spent half my time reading the paperback, half listening to the audiobook.

    , the same narrator as the first three, does her usual excellent job.

  • Jazmin

    WIG??????? will write a proper review when my brain catches up.

    ----

    I have no idea, I feel like I was given a direct injection of coke into my bloodstream, it's That relevant to my id. It's a lot less lighter than the other books - Mary's jaded, and Sebastian is straight up a cryptic puzzle and there's a lot of dry humor, it really was incredible. I had only wished that Mary and Letty's relationship could've been repaired more (I mean - Willig does a good job at pointing out how annoyed Mary was

    WIG??????? will write a proper review when my brain catches up.

    ----

    I have no idea, I feel like I was given a direct injection of coke into my bloodstream, it's That relevant to my id. It's a lot less lighter than the other books - Mary's jaded, and Sebastian is straight up a cryptic puzzle and there's a lot of dry humor, it really was incredible. I had only wished that Mary and Letty's relationship could've been repaired more (I mean - Willig does a good job at pointing out how annoyed Mary was after the events of book 3, and there's a brief moment near the end when she has a feeling of fondness for when Letty doesn't ask where she spent the night but I wish there was MORE. One thing I love more than tight sister bonds is strained sister bonds and it wasn't really a passing thought!) SO anyway, the relationship between Vaughn and Mary is very push and pull, and fun to unpack with it being built on secrecy and Vaughn using Mary so he can be free of being the Carnation's errand boy - but then they find underneath the iciness of their hearts something like spring coming around as it thaws around each other and it's fucking great. Vaughn being jealous of the men Mary was by, and also dealing with (redacted), was great when we got it but I wished there was a bit more of Vaughn's feeling for Mary because what we did (basically, the whole Chinese room scene) was hot and I wish there was just a little more of it. Because we see Mary's feelings for him go from "Hot, but annoying" to "Man, he's hot and annoying and I don't mind that" --- he butchers Shakespeare!!!! And she's completely okay with it!!!!

    There's such a ruthless level of practicality in their love for each other but also devotion that they'd definitely follow each other into hell.

    More Eloise/Colin relationship is so good. It's so fucking good, Eloise ruining that archivist's life on behalf of Serena and Colin watching it is like, god, I love romance.

  • Manda Collins

    I have the utmost admiration of Willig's skill as an author. And for her sheer bravery for letting her characters remain true to their natures--flaws and all. It would have been easy to explain away their rather unpleasant characteristics with stories of a troubled childhood or various heartbreaks. But she didn't take the easy way, instead walking a tightrope between unlikable and admirable. I'm not sure anyone else would have been able to tell Vaughn and Mary's story and make me like them.

    I have the utmost admiration of Willig's skill as an author. And for her sheer bravery for letting her characters remain true to their natures--flaws and all. It would have been easy to explain away their rather unpleasant characteristics with stories of a troubled childhood or various heartbreaks. But she didn't take the easy way, instead walking a tightrope between unlikable and admirable. I'm not sure anyone else would have been able to tell Vaughn and Mary's story and make me like them. They're still unpleasant at times, and certainly not as admirable as some of her other heroes and heroines, but I found their romance believable and for all their denials, really rather sweet. There were a couple of times when they crossed lines that made me a bit squeamish. But I'm pretty good at glossing over things like that. In books. I was glad to see Eloise make some progress on the Colin front! Fun read.

  • bijal

    So, when I read the blurb for this book, I figured I'd end up liking it okay, but not as much as the two prior because it was about Vaughn and I couldn't really see him carrying a book or holding my interest. He's pretty much a mustache twirling foil in the first two books, and who can take that seriously, you know?

    BUT! Turns out, I did not know I liked Vaughn as much I ended up liking Vaughn! He had a personality and he even cracked a joke or two. And, of course, he had SECRET PAIN. When it

    So, when I read the blurb for this book, I figured I'd end up liking it okay, but not as much as the two prior because it was about Vaughn and I couldn't really see him carrying a book or holding my interest. He's pretty much a mustache twirling foil in the first two books, and who can take that seriously, you know?

    BUT! Turns out, I did not know I liked Vaughn as much I ended up liking Vaughn! He had a personality and he even cracked a joke or two. And, of course, he had SECRET PAIN. When it comes to fiction, I have a type and that type is emotionally damaged with baggage.

    As for Mary, I dig how unapologetic she was about finding a husband. Sometimes, a lady's just got to make the best of a situation and look out for herself.

    Once again, excellent narration, EXCEPT for the American bits. After 3 audiobooks in this series, I have confirmed that I hate narrator's Eloise for being super smug and not half as funny, charming, or self-deprecating as she thinks she is. Maybe Eloise reads better on the page than how it sounds in audio?

  • Pamela(AllHoney)

    The 4th book in the Pink Carnation series and a great addition. I didn't particularly like either Mary or Vaughn (I didn't hate them, though) in the previous book but I warmed up to them quickly in this one. It would be hard to say which book is my favorite so far but this one is probably in the running. Vaughn recruits Mary at the request of the Pink Carnation to help expose the Black Tulip. Never a dull moment as we go back and forth from Eloise and Colin in the present day to Vaughn and Mary

    The 4th book in the Pink Carnation series and a great addition. I didn't particularly like either Mary or Vaughn (I didn't hate them, though) in the previous book but I warmed up to them quickly in this one. It would be hard to say which book is my favorite so far but this one is probably in the running. Vaughn recruits Mary at the request of the Pink Carnation to help expose the Black Tulip. Never a dull moment as we go back and forth from Eloise and Colin in the present day to Vaughn and Mary in Georgian era England.

  • Susan (susayq ~)

    For some reason I didn't like this one as much as I've liked the previous books in this series. Now, that's not to say that it isn't good, cause as you can see, I gave it 4 stars. I just don't feel the same excitement now that it's over. Without giving away to much of the plot, there were some things that were resolved in this book, that can't have gone the way it appears, since there are more books in the series.

    For some reason I didn't like this one as much as I've liked the previous books in this series. Now, that's not to say that it isn't good, cause as you can see, I gave it 4 stars. I just don't feel the same excitement now that it's over. Without giving away to much of the plot, there were some things that were resolved in this book, that can't have gone the way it appears, since there are more books in the series.

    As much as I'm feeling kind of blah about this, I have to say I grew to like Lord Vaughn. He's not your typical hero...he still talked in circles and I'm not 100% convinced of his love for Mary, but when he told her how he felt about her and how if he had his way she'd be buying her bridal clothes, I melted. There were no flowery words or promises, it was blunt and even a bit angry. But it was all Lord Sebastian Vaughn cause that is the way he is.

    I'm sure I'll reread this at a later date to see if I don't get all the warm and fuzzy feelings like I did from the rest of the books in the series.

  • Lynn Spencer

    This series continues to delight me. In this installment, the historical storyline pairs two of the more difficult to like characters in Willig's Regency world - Lord Vaughn and Mary Alsworthy. Personally, I've found both characters quite intriguing. In a genre where the heroines tend toward saintliness, Mary has a strong self-interest that I found intriguing. Her position in life is precarious and she knows it, so she is determined to marry well in order to avoid an uncertain future.

    This series continues to delight me. In this installment, the historical storyline pairs two of the more difficult to like characters in Willig's Regency world - Lord Vaughn and Mary Alsworthy. Personally, I've found both characters quite intriguing. In a genre where the heroines tend toward saintliness, Mary has a strong self-interest that I found intriguing. Her position in life is precarious and she knows it, so she is determined to marry well in order to avoid an uncertain future. She's beautiful and not exactly the warm and fuzzy sort of personality, so she's something of an outsider among the other young women.

    Sebastian, Lord Vaughn, is a good bit older than Mary. In his mid-30s, he's quite worldly and seems to hint at a throwback to the more hedonistic aspects of the Georgian era rather than a man of the 19th century. Whether his loyalties lie with England or with France is often a matter of some debate, and it's hard to tell to whom he is loyal - aside from himself.

    When Mary accepts a secret assignment from Vaughn, the growing attraction between the two as well as the edge of moral uncertainty in their story makes this an interesting read. This novel features two strong characters and because their voices are quite different than, say, Henrietta and Miles, the book has an entirely different tone to it than the three which came before. There's not quite as much humor, but Willig writes drama very well, too.

    And of course the saga of Eloise and Colin continues with their first actual date and some interesting revelations. It's all good stuff.

  • Melissa

    I bought this book because it was on sale. REALLY on sale. And because it was hardcover. And, well, it looked pretty. So...why not?

    I'm actually torn between giving 3 or 4 stars. (Yes, this is when I'd like half stars.) Two otherwise unlikeable characters come together with such wit and intelligent dialogue that I found myself empathizing and ultimately cheering for them. These two actually GET each other's humor, and they're able ot bounce back-handed comments, sparring asides and private jokes

    I bought this book because it was on sale. REALLY on sale. And because it was hardcover. And, well, it looked pretty. So...why not?

    I'm actually torn between giving 3 or 4 stars. (Yes, this is when I'd like half stars.) Two otherwise unlikeable characters come together with such wit and intelligent dialogue that I found myself empathizing and ultimately cheering for them. These two actually GET each other's humor, and they're able ot bounce back-handed comments, sparring asides and private jokes between each other with flawless ease. Yes, it's really great dialogue, whether it's historically accurate or not, but if I ever encountered people talking this way today, I would thoroughly enjoy it...while finding myself woefully unable to measure up. This is why I'm keeping this book on my shelves.

    Different, from what reviews I've read, from the earlier books in the series (which, yes, I will probably end up reading now)...I've now found myself hooked on the series regardless. I actually didn't care much for the modern-day researcher Eloise. She just seemed too obtuse in her interactions to want to bother with--particularly after reading better-developed characters in the historical story. (The book has two stories going on at alternating intervals. Eloise has been able to develop through four books by now, but I obviously missed out on three-fourths of that.)

    Ok, so the pretty cover doesn't look bad on my shelves, either. ;)

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