Emily also reviewed this book for the RITA® Reader Challenge, and like a reviewer who I’ll publish soon, wished for a little more steam.
Plot Summary: Arabella Dempsey’s dear friend Jane Austen warned her against teaching. But Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies seems the perfect place for Arabella to claim her independence while keeping an eye on her younger sisters nearby. Just before Christmas, she accepts a position at the quiet girls’ school in Bath, expecting to face nothing more exciting than conducting the annual Christmas recital. She hardly imagines coming face to face with French aristocrats and international spies…
Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh-often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation- has blundered into danger before. But when he blunders into Miss Arabella Dempsey, it never occurs to him that she might be trouble. When Turnip and Arabella stumble upon a beautifully wrapped Christmas pudding with a cryptic message written in French, “Meet me at Farley Castle,” the unlikely vehicle for intrigue launches the pair on a Yuletide adventure that ranges from the Austens’modest drawing room to the awe-inspiring estate of the Dukes of Dovedale, where the Dowager Duchess is hosting the most anticipated event of the year: an elaborate twelve-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? Is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella’s and Turnip’s hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding?
And now, Emily’s review:
I am a Lauren Willig fangirl. I love her enough to buy hard cover books. I actually met her in person too, and she was lovely, charming, bubbly and gracious. I have read all of her books before this one—The Mischief of the Mistletoe. This means I am familiar not only with Willig, but with Turnip Fitzhugh, the hero of this book.
I really appreciated the fact that having met Turnip before; his character remained consistent. Turnip previously seemed devoid of great intellect and he is still not usually bright. Willig makes him into a hero by focusing on his good heart. I love that he is so pleasant; better than dozens of brooding rakes. Arabella is a good foil for Turnip. She is so often overlooked than she is appreciative of his good heart and she is able to go along with his quirky, silly conversation.
I have read many books featuring heroines from and having been to Bath seminaries, but this was my first look inside. I really liked seeing inside the school. Most of the girls at the seminary are relatives of other characters but that didn’t seem to be problem. Willig limits the cameos, but they are unavoidable as some of this plot coincides with The Temptation of Night Jasmine, book five.
I love Willig’s light-hearted style. That being said her books work better for me when they are darker. Missing is the steamy sex from the first three Pink books. She writes loves scenes that work for me, so I wish she would go back to the R rated ones. This book does continue the tradition of espionage in her books. The espionage plot is light hearted and fits the fluffy tone of the book. I just wish the book had been a little steamier and filling.