Will someone please explain to me how it is already the third week of December? I feel like this can’t be possible, and yet here we are. Before I pass you all into Sarah’s capable hands for our Pink IV recap, let me announce the winner of the signed copy of The Firebird: it’s Kathleen Parker! Kathleen, if you will email your address to firstname.lastname@example.org, we will get your prize in the mail to you.
Thank you all so much for entering and sharing the giveaway, and huge thanks to Susanna for the interview and prize! If you didn’t win, make sure you check back next Monday… there may or may not be another of Susanna’s books up for grabs.
And now, over to Sarah!
Hello all and happy Friday! By this point in our read we should have finished through Chapter 23, so I’m going to do a recap of what’s happening. Or maybe I should recap what isn’t happening – it would be a much shorter post. If this book were published in parts and this set of chapters were one part I think it would be called “Revelations and Complications.”
Mary: Our heroine goes through quite a lot in this portion of the book. First we have the tediousness of practicing for Lady Euphemia’s play while Vaughn has done a disappearing act; Lauren’s heroes do like to do that don’t they? Miles did that, too, as did Geoffrey… sorry, rabbit trail. Any way Mary goes from pining for Vaughn’s company, although she claims to “despise, loath, and revile him,” to angrily confronting him on his disappearance, wherein her deeply hidden hopes of an eventual marriage proposal are smashed to pieces, to fighting the Black Tulip for a pistol in an attempt to save Vaughn’s life. Then to top it all off, in typical resilient Mary fashion, she manages to bully everyone around her so she can get him home and looked after. If only she could have fallen in love with someone who is far less trouble, like Mr. St. George. He seems like such a nice man, and he clearly admires Mary.
Lord Vaughn: Okay, I’m going to say it. Poor Sebastian. I think this section of the book, and specifically the scene with Anne at the musicale, is what really endeared him to me. As become evident at Hyde Park he’s finally found a woman he truly loves and respects, only to have his dead wife suddenly back from the grave, and turning up at the most inappropriate times. I remember listening to the audio version and this passage stood out so vibrantly: “He knew that expression. Next would come an innocent flutter of the lashes, followed by a charmingly perturbed expression, as though she were searching for the right words. And, finally, the long, drawn-out, wheedling rendition of his name. Sebastian…” We also get more of an in-depth look at his emotions; he feels deeply, more than he’ll ever admit, for Mary, for Teresa, for everything that happened during the Terror, and much more. To make matters worse, he’s been mistakenly labeled as the Pink Carnation and shot, so it’s been a rough couple of days for Vaughn.
The Black Tulip: He’s made his second appearance, if he’s a “he” at all. I’m still not entirely convinced the spy wasn’t the woman swigging gin and wearing a towering ruin of a bonnet, either a man disguised as a woman or actually a woman; see, complicated. So the Tulip has reached out, as hoped, to Mary in Hyde Park. Here’s where things get really interesting, Mary’s test of loyalty is to kill Vaughn since the Tulip is convinced he’s the Pink Carnation. What really caught my attention here was the fact that Teresa was killed in Ireland for refusing to kill Vaughn!
Jane: Not one to sit still, the actual Pink Carnation has been doing what she does so well, behind-the-scenes investigating. She’s checked out Rathbone and, in the process, absolutely ruined one of his experiments. Unintentional or not it was quite rude of her, really. This section is also where we learn that the source of Jane and Vaughn’s alliance is none other than Anne, herself. Vaughn couldn’t stay in France to investigate Anne’s “resurrection,” and the letters being used to blackmail him, so Jane does it for him. Which brings us to…
Anne: The return of the prodigal Lady Vaughn. Did anyone see that coming? After faking her own death while running off with her music master she’s tired of trying to make it on her own and wants to return to her life and her husband. He, of course, doesn’t want her back but that doesn’t matter to her. She wants to come back as Countess and that’s that in her mind.
We’ve also had St. George continuing to pop up here and there, I love that he tries to “out-Alpha” Vaughn at the musicale; that did not turn out as he expected. I’m delighted that we’ve seen a little more of some characters from other books, both minor and major. Mme. Fiorila makes a brief reappearance, much to Vaughn’s relief. Richard and Miles seem to be heading towards reconciliation and the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale is wreaking havoc as always. Nothing else from Colin and Eloise, they’re still ensconced in their cozy booth at the Greek restaurant with a carafe of red wine, life is good!
Question to ponder: Anyone else have a complication or revelation that I neglected to mention in these chapters? Be wary of spoilers from further ahead; only things that have happened in the book up to chapter 23, please!