"The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla" by Lauren Willig is the latest in her "Pink Carnation" series that began with "The Secret History of the Pink Carnation."
Willig is a prolific author; recent releases include "The Ashford Affair" and "That Summer."
This reviewer always was intrigued by the "Pink Carnation" series, but never reviewed that series until now. It's a series not to be missed.
By all means, begin with the current release, "The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla." It works as a stand-alone novel, although the reader (as did the reviewer) will miss a few of the asides about the prior adventures of the young ladies in the story.
Sally Fitzhugh is the protagonist, and romance/mystery lovers couldn't ask for a better heroine. She's not just lovely, she's plucky, level-headed, brave and self-deprecating. In short, it's no wonder that Lucien, Duke of Belliston, falls in love with her.
Before the happy ending, there is a mystery to be solved; there are plenty of deaths, lots of red-herrings, vampires threats, and high-society England at its best.
The reader will likely solve the mystery before the characters in the story, but that doesn't detract from the enjoyment of discovering how it all turns out.
Alternating with the 1806 story is the current story of Eloise, a history graduate student who is back after researching the story of the Pink Carnation for her graduate thesis. She's getting ready for a visit from her British boyfriend, Colin, whom she'd met while researching his ancestors through some family documents.
Do be careful because it's very possible, probable in fact, that once having read "The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla," you will be ordering all the previous books and pre-ordering the next in the series, "The Lure of the Moonflower."
Please note: This review is based on the final paperback book provided by the publisher, NAL Trade, for review purposes.
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