Pink IX: Ask the Author

Happy Friday!

Lauren is returning today, in her glory and benevolence, for another round of Ask the Author.  What questions do you have about Augustus and Emma?  What do you want to know about the lost treasure of Berar?  Have you always wondered how Lauren knew Miss Gwen would make an excellent pirate?  Now is your chance to get answers – leave your questions in the Comments section, and Lauren will stop by periodically to answer them.

The Pink Fairy has a gift for a commenter on today’s post – a Pink IX mug, designed by Miss Eliza!

pink ix

If you would like to see all the mugs designed for Pink for All Seasons, they can be viewed and purchased on Zazzle.

Happy questioning, and enjoy our last day celebrating Pink IX.  On Monday, we begin The Passion of the Purple Plumeria!

Pink IX Week 4 in Review

I can’t believe I’m typing this, but somehow it is time for the last recap of The Garden Intrigue.  Please join me in saying thanks to Holly and Amanda, our outstanding moderating duo for the month of May.  Thanks also to Sarah, who was a guest contributor this month.  Lauren will be visiting on Friday for another round of Ask the Author – be sure to stop by!  Over to Holly and Amanda…

garden malmaison

Here we are in the final chapters of the Garden Intrigue.  Will Mr. Fulton’s missing plans be noticed?  Will Emma and Augustus get a happy ever after?  Will the Lost Treasure of Barar be recovered at Selwick Hall?

When we left Augustus and Emma they were moving towards reconciliation in Augustus’ room- on his bed- where he had so cleverly hidden Mr. Fulton’s mysterious plans.  Our fair Emma, being a smart girl and quite familiar with the plans, tries to comprehend just how these papers moved from Napoleon’s greenhouse to the bed.  Augustus is forced to come clean, not just that he’s taken the papers but that he is an English spy.  Poor Emma is devastated to learn he’s been as false as his poetic license.  She realizes that he had used her in the beginning for an entree to Malmaison and that even the scene of their earlier fight was Augustus trying to be in the right place at the right time near Napoleon.  Emma calls him out for being even less honest than Marston.  Ouch.  Emma discloses that Marston is also after the plans for the submarine.  Augustus is shocked to learn Napoleon might soon have a way to move underwater against the English.  He recovers enough to try to plead his love to Emma just as she storms out of his room.

Now the time for the masque has come. Jane tells Augustus that Mr. Fulton is displeased by the French government and she is hopeful that with some encouragement he will remove himself, and his plans, to the English.  Fulton himself storms in before the masque can begin, complaining that his plans have been taken.  Thankfully Emma offers herself up as the keeper before Fulton can accuse the Emperor of thievery.  Augustus finds himself with a choice to make- does he approach Fulton before he loses his indignation with the French?  Or does he chase Emma to thank her for saving his mission and his life?

For better or for worse, Augustus choses his duty over his heart and goes after Fulton.  Emma is approached by a thankful and affectionate Marston who is sure that the promise of a future with him has spurred Emma into stealing the plans.  She learns Marston has his own grubby hands on papers stolen from Mr. Fulton and is on his way to sell them to the English.  She imagines quite a reception when Georges tries to sell the plans he describes- to the wave machine built for the masque!

Emma convinces Georges she’ll be pining for him until he can return for her.  Marston exits the scene for Emma to have her next audience with a thankful Augustus.  Augustus reveals that he’s turned Mr. Fulton and will be bringing him to England himself.  He begins a new campaign to bring Emma with him.  He plans to leave France in 3 days and asks Emma to consider a life in England.  They agree to talk after the masque.  Emma will join the Emperor and his family to watch their hard work being performed.  Augustus runs into junior spy Horace de Lilly who is ready to celebrate Augustus’ feat of the theft of the submarine plans.  Augustus sends de Lilly in search of a carriage to leave for the coast in 3 days.

Emma tries to watch the performance that she helped to write but is deep in thought about her feelings for Augustus and whether she loves him enough to leave her adopted homeland.  The relative peace of the performance is disturbed by someone trying to gain entrance to the Emperor.  When Emma hears “treason” and realizes the intruder is young Horace de Lilly she’s not immediately alerted for Augustus, but when she hears him refer to “the poet” she knows that she must act.

With the infamous wave machine for cover Emma moves to Augustus and alerts him to the double cross.  They have an hour for Augustus to find the inventor and for Emma to get his plans.  Emma makes a move on Marston, convincing him she needs just a few minutes for an affectionate farewell.  Augustus leaps at his chance to knock Georges out for the count! Emma declares herself ready to leave for England and they ride off into the sunset– wait no they don’t.  Their joyful embrace is ruined by Marston awakening from his blow to the head and realizing his coach is about to be stolen.  He raises the alarm and gives Augustus a second chance to knock him out.  Now Augustus and Emma can ride into the night – at top speed and with an Imperial guard chasing them.  Augustus nobly gives Emma a chance to turn back and accuse him of kidnapping, but she refuses.  Emma would rather face an unknown England with her love – as long as he’s done with the poetry.

Back at Selwick Hall, Eloise is ruminating on the fate of our Emma and Augustus.  Did the past American find happiness with her love in England?  She and Colin are avoiding the topic of her return to Harvard in favor of discussing the lost treasure of Barar.  Though Colin invites Eloise to stay, she realizes she has to go back to Cambridge.  She can’t turn down the job offer or walk away from her life in America.  She and Colin are both forced to admit that they’re enjoying each other but it’s too soon to force their relationship to a stage that they’re not ready for.  Eloise agrees to stay for the summer and Colin suggests a visit to Cambridge.  But they have the summer still – which is plenty of time for their own treasure hunt to throw to spite Jeremy and find the treasure!

Will they find it? Did you get enough of Miss. Gwen as a pirate?  What did you think about Emma and Augustus?

Pink IX: Dream Casting

Please forgive the lateness of this post today!  I had some unexpected internet access issues today, but I hope we can just call this fashionably late.  Miss Eliza is returning for another round of dream casting – away we go!


While I usually begin these little posts with who I cast first, which is usually the fair heroines, I thought perhaps it’s time I should break that habit.  After all, Augustus Whittlesby has been waiting a long time. Not only has he been around since the first book in this series, but he was easily the hardest casting I have ever been faced with. I know, I’m probably jinxing myself for the final book and Jack Reid, but there was just no one who would fit. Unlike Jaouen who was a complete mystery to me, there were a lot of options I tested and they all failed, until inspiration finally struck. My friend Marie and I often talk about Lauren’s books and lately we have of course been discussing the re-read and the dream casting. So, both of us love and adore Tom Mison from Sleepy Hollow fame. I sadly gave up on the show but Marie still soldiers on. One day the topic of dream casting and our love of Tom Mison collided. Marie asked me; “Well who will Tom Mison play?” Without even a second of doubt I said Augustus Whittlesby. I actually shocked myself because I didn’t realize that I had the answer for Augustus all along! Tom is a brilliant actor, but most importantly of all, he can pull off long hair and flowing shirts. Tom could easily be lining up behind Shelley, Byron, and Coleridge, in the Blackadder episode “Ink and Incapability” which is my basis for all Regency poets. Forevermore to me Tom is Augustus and yes, he can so pull of those shirts, but more importantly, those pants!


As for Emma Delagardie, she clicked into place as soon as I started reading The Garden Intrigue. It is weird how sometimes it’s so easy and other times it’s a struggle to make these connections of the abilities of an actor or actress and the role I see them playing. I felt bad for my fair heroine the first time I read the book because in one scene I was trying out Dan Stevens with her, in another, for some reason to do with the floppy hair, it was Matt Smith. I could almost hear her frustration. Couldn’t I just get her man? Well, now she has her man, and as for her, she’s Kristen Bell. Kristen Bell, besides being a petite blonde American with very straight hair, has the acting chops needed to match wits and also enjoy insulting Augustus for fun at his poetry readings. If anything was learned from my repeat viewings of Veronica Mars it is that Bell has an amazing range, but she also has in innate sense of humor that is rarely seen in actors. She could totally grasp the humor of the theatrical production her and Augustus are writing. Plus, seriously, she’s just awesome.


Though there is another man who reappears in The Garden Intrigue whom needs to be addressed. I am talking about Georges Marston. There is no way to like this creepy letch. But that doesn’t mean we can ignore him. After all, Emma and him did have a dalliance, no matter how ill advised. We can also not forget that Amy mistakenly thought he was the Purple Gentian prior to discovering the truth way back in The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. So, despite his nastiness, there has to be something appealing physically about George that let one lady take him to bed and let the other daydream about his foiling the French. So he might be a fine physical specimen, with luxurious mutton chops, but still a nasty piece of work. Therefore my casting might be a little radical, because it’s an actor I really like, I mean really really like, but he was able to show in Atonement that he can be a Class A creeper. I am, of course, talking about the one and only Benedict Cumberbatch. Plus he’s such a gifted actor it would probably be fun for him to play the ass.

Emma Delagardie played by Kristen Bell
Augustus Whittlesby played by Tim Mison

Pink IX Week 3 in Review

Happy Friday to one and all!  Before we dive into this week’s Pink chapters, I have a winner to announce.  Congratulations to Judy Westmoreland, winner of an e-copy of Tracy’s Grant’s latest book, The Mayfair Affair.  Judy, please email me at to claim your book. Thanks again to Tracy for answering all my questions and providing the prize!

And now, over to Amanda and Holly for our regularly scheduled Friday Pink goodness.

rose garden

If you’re reading along with us, we’ll cover Chapters 21-28 this week, and finish up the book next Friday.

We last left off in the middle of tension both at Malmaison and Selwick Hall.

At Malmaison

Augustus is stalking around the house, leaving Emma with the guests inside. He’s had quite a day – from Jane’s delicate rejection, to Emma’s warm embrace, and he’s desperately trying to get a grip. He runs into none other than Miss Gwen – and her parasol – who reminds him of exactly what he’s supposed to be doing – spying. She reveals that Mr. Fulton has arrived with a second crate, in addition to the wave machine for the masque. Mr. Fulton has been working closely with Emma’s cousin Robert Livingston, and Miss Gwen indicates that Augustus should be using Emma to get to the truth. Of course, though that is exactly what he meant to do a month ago, the idea of “using” Emma now leaves him indignant. He doesn’t have time to argue though, when he learns that Marston is inside, exactly where he left Emma.

Marston leads Emma outside, and asks her to get a hold of Mr. Fulton’s plans for him. He’s been cut out of a deal with Fulton and Livingston, and Emma is his way in – until Augustus interrupts their conversation. After Marston makes his exit, Emma reveals to Augustus what everyone already knows – that Mr. Fulton is demonstrating his steamship on the river tomorrow for the Emperor.

The demonstration goes well, but for the part where the model ship sinks at the hands (or rocks) of Caroline Murat’s son (Caroline being Napoleon’s sister, who is full of scorn for Hortense and her mother, and, by association, Emma). Augustus can’t figure out why the accumulated force of France’s admiralty is present for the demonstration though.

Augustus is distracted by the sight of Emma conversing with her cousin Kort. What he doesn’t know is that Kort offers her a marriage proposal – one of comfort and kindness, but lacking romantic love on both sides – and Emma turns him down for the hope of something more. At the same time, he warns her against staying in Paris, where her safety is based on her relationship with Josephine and Hortense Bonaparte, as there are rumors of the Emperor looking for a new wife to make Empress.

Augustus, trying to juggle both his job and his heart, invites Emma to converse with him in the rose garden, where he hopes to mend their friendship and eavesdrop on the Emperor both. Neither task goes exactly as planned – Augustus chastises Emma for running away,

“You won’t marry your cousin and you won’t join the court. You won’t go back to America, but you won’t settle at Carmagnac. You didn’t even want to write the masque until someone cornered you into it…no risk, no reward…You play with people and ideas, but you drop them before they get too serious, in the nicest possible way, of course”

Emma responds in kind,

“You can’t even commit to an outer garment, much less anything else, and you talk to me about running away…You live in rented lodgings. You have no friends that I’ve seen. And what about family? No wife, no children, no parents, no siblings…That’s what normal, grown-up people do, Augustus. They don’t go around posturing from salon to salon, spouting ridiculous bits of verse. They get married. They grow up.”

As Augustus manages to royally mess up with Emma, as luck would have it, he does find himself alone in the Emperor’s summerhouse, staring at Fulton’s indecipherable plans – which he steals and places under his coverlet in his room. At the same time, Emma learns from Fulton himself what the plans are for: a submarine.

Emma is equally cut up about the row, and she finds herself defending Augustus to Jane and Miss Gwen, who suddenly are coming across as mean-girls about the poet. Jane warns that Whittlesby isn’t exactly as he seems (as she knows), but Emma trusts that she knows him best. She realizes that she’s happy with Augustus, and willing to take a gamble. She heads off to apologize, just as he’s stepping out the door to do the same.

Insert apologizes – and desire – and suddenly Augustus is leading Emma over to his bed, exactly where he had just placed his stolen submarine plans.

At Selwick Hall

Eloise drops the bomb on poor grumpy Colin that he must face down Nigel Dempster in his own home, as well as his jerk of a cousin/step-father.  Thankfully they realize that Dempster has weaseled his way into the scene with an invitation from Eloise’s self-appointed competition, Joan Plowden-Plugge, and not by messing with Serena again.  We meet the Micah Stone who is in charge of the movie and get to see Jeremy falling all over himself to suck-up.  Then Jeremy reveals himself! He congratulates Eloise on her new teaching position at Harvard- the position she hasn’t accepted or told Colin about yet making it clear that he’s been reading her email.  Jeremy thinks Colin isn’t interested in Eloise for anything but her researching abilities.  It turns out there are rumors that the Lost Treasure of Berar might be at Selwick Hall!

What? Last I recall from The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, the treasure didn’t exist! Or it was in India?   Do you think Eloise will stumble upon it?  Will Augustus hide the plans before Emma can catch him?

The Mayfair Affair: An Interview and Giveaway with Tracy Grant

Mayfair*Photo credit:

I first picked up one of Tracy Grant’s books at the Charlottesville “Festival of the Book” three years ago.  I was so excited to hear Lauren Willig and Deanna Raybourn speak that I got to the book store slightly (an hour and a half) early.  I passed the time by browsing for books, and I happened across a copy of Tracy’s Vienna Waltz.  I recognized Tracy’s name for the “If You Like” posts on Lauren’s website, and I read the first two chapters while I waited for Lauren’s event to begin.  I was hooked.

Tracy was kind enough to participate in an interview on my blog in September of last year, and I am so glad she is back today!  Her newest book, The Mayfair Affair, is now available in the wild, and so we’re going to chat a bit about it, her series, and writing in general.

The Mayfair Affair is your fifth book about Suzanne and Malcolm Rannoch. Do you have a master plan for the series, or are you following your ideas wherever they take you?

I don’t have a master plan but there are certain plot points I know I want to hit. For instance I knew for a long time I’d do a book about Laura Dudley being accused of murder, I knew Laura was hiding things, I knew certain plot developments that occur in The Mayfair Affair. But I’m constantly surprised, in a good way, by how the characters and series evolve, so I keep it flexible. I’m having fun now delving into the next book, which goes in some directions I had in mind and some new ones.

One thing that I really enjoy about your books is the way that you shift perspective. Is there a character whose point of view is easier for you to write than the others?

Both Suzanne’s and Malcolm’s POVs come pretty easily to me and now I know them so well that starting a new books is like sitting down with old friends (though they can still surprise me, which is cool). Laura Dudley was fairly easy for me to write in this book as well. I started out mostly writing Raoul O’Roarke from other characters’ POVs, but I get into his head quite a bit in The Mayfair Affair, and I enjoyed writing from his perspective.

What kind of historical details do you most enjoy researching and writing about? Is it the clothes, the food, the social structure? Something else entirely?

I do enjoy the clothes! I love fashion, both historical and contemporary :-). I also love setting details – sights, sounds, smells, tastes. I love it when I can find a few details that bring a setting to life, like the tang of extinguished candles, the scratchy soot in the London air, the smell of the oranges being sold in the Covent Garden Theatre lobby. I also love writing about the political and diplomatic intrigue.

I play this game when I watch musicals (only that genre, weirdly enough) where I cast myself as one of the minor characters. For example, if I were in Rent, I’d be Mark’s mom. If you could cast yourself as one of the ensemble characters in your series, who would you be and why?

Before The Mayfair Affair I’d have said Laura Dudley, but in Mayfair she becomes a central character. Maybe Juliette Dubretton – she’s juggling being a writer and a mother like me, and she’s definitely one the ensemble characters I enjoy writing.

One of the great things about reading historical fiction is watching the way that authors write interactions between their original characters and historical figures. Your books are full of wonderful moments like this. Has there ever been a historical figure you were excited or nervous about including in a novel?

It’s always both exciting and nerve-wracking to try to put words in a real historical figure’s mouth I was particularly nervous and excited about Talleyrand, who plays a major role in Vienna Waltz and The Paris Affair, because he’s such a towering figure. But I actually found it quite easy to write his dialogue and even the moments I did from his POV. It’s always a bit of dilemma to involve real historical figures in fictional events. I try to only have real historical figures do things they might conceivably have done (for instance I wouldn’t involve someone known to be a faithful spouse in a fictional adulterous love affair). Talleyrand was a master schemer, and I debated how far I could have him go in my fictional schemes. I think I hit on a balance that was true to the complex man he is.

Your series has expanded to include three novellas now. Are there aspects of writing these shorter stories that you find particularly appealing?

I think in terms of complex plots and lots of characters so writing in a shorter form can be challenging for me. But I love writing novellas as part of a larger series. They are a great way to dramatize moments from the characters’ pasts, like Malcolm and Suzanne’s wedding in His Spanish Bride or Suzanne’s first visit to London in the recent London Interlude or to depict important developments that take place between books, like the birth of their daughter Jessica in The Paris Plot

I know that lots of readers like to imagine the perfect Hollywood cast as they read through a book. Do you think about who you would like to see on the big screen as Suzanne or Malcolm?

When I first started writing the series they were a young David Duchovny (early X-Files) and Elizabeth Hurley (as she was in one of the Sharpe episodes). When I saw Casino Royale, I thought Daniel Craig and Eva Green would work well. If the books were filmed now (well, I can dream :-), you’d need somewhat younger actors. Maybe Emily Blunt and Benedict Cumberbatch? I love hearing readers’ casting suggestions – it’s a way of seeing my characters through someone else’s eyes.

Do you ever get a wild urge to write something from a complete different genre, like a fantasy novel or a modern thriller? If you do, what genre do you think you’d try?

Not really. I love writing mysteries with a strong historical background and romantic elements, and I love my characters and the writing in the world I’ve created for them.

Do you have a favorite “comfort book”?

Venetia by Georgette Heyer, Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers, and The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King.

What is your favorite aspect of life as an author?

Making up stories and sharing them with readers. Sometimes playing dolls with my daughter I think “this is still what I get to do, only I write the stories down instead of acting them out with dolls.” How cool a job is that?

A very cool job for sure, Tracy! Thank you so much for spending the time with us today and answering all my questions. For more information on Tracy, The Mayfair Affair, and all of Tracy’s great work, you can visit her website at

And now, dear readers, Tracy has a gift for you. She has agreed to give away an e-copy of her new release The Mayfair Affair to a commenter on today’s blog. If you are the lucky winner, you can let us know what e-book platform you prefer.

You can enter up to three times for this giveaway, and the contest will be open until midnight EST on May 21. Here’s how you can enter:

  1. Leave a comment below.
  2. Follow the blog! If you are already a follower, just mention that in your comment. There are links in the top right corner of this page to become a follower.
  3. Post a link to this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter. Again, you can just let me know in your comment that you’ve done this. I trust you.

On Friday, I will use the Random Number Generator to pick a winner. Good luck!

Pink IX Week 2 in Review

This post was written by Sarah, a guest moderator for the day!  Make her welcome, y’all, and happy Friday.


Who to keep tabs on: (most of these are from last week, but just in case you need a refresher)

Eloise and Colin – our favorite modern day framing device

Cate the Clipboard Girl – an intern on the movie production crew that Eloise befriends

Serena – Colin’s sister of figuratively great heart and little spine

Jane Wooliston – aka the Pink Carnation, but let’s keep that fact from. . .

Nigel Dempster – (modern day curator of the Vaughn Collection), please

Emma Morris Delagardie – our American heroine, sarcastically named “the Grand Inquisitor for Poetical Excellence, Greater Paris Branch,” by:

Augustus Whittlesby – English spy masquerading as a terrible French poet for years upon years

Kortright Livingston – Emma’s cousin, who come to Paris expecting to bring Emma home, at her mother’s bidding

Georges Marston – a returning bad dude from Pink I – and Emma’s ex-lover from shortly after she was widowed

Napoleon Bonaparte – the Consul of France

Hortense Bonaparte – Step-daughter of Napoleon Bonaparte and good friends with Emma Delagardie

What’s going on:

Augustus is disappointed to discover that his “mysterious paper” that Emma has passed to Hortense is nothing more than a recipe for cough syrup, but remains amazed at Jane’s nearly omniscient knowledge of everyone’s goings ons. She also shoots down his notions that Emma has the plans for THE device – whatever it is that Napoleon Bonaparte is going to debut at his party in Malmaison.

Meanwhile, Emma has convinced her cousin, Kort, to take his turn on the boards, acting the part of Americanus in her masque. The New World cousins then meet up with Augustus and Jane. Jane acts as diversion and delver of details with Kort while giving Emma the chance for a tête-à-tête with the poet of dubious rhyming couplets and divine breeches. Oblivious to Emma’s tendre, Augustus was taken aback by the addition of Jane as the princess in the play. While they debated the amount and type of love a poet may feel for their muse, news comes that the French Senate had voted to make Napoleon emperor of the French. Emma was completely taken by surprise and quite shocked. She shared her astonishment and nostalgia for bygone simpler days with the Bonaparte family.

Then Emma blindsides Augustus. She remarks that Augustus has ceased speaking in rhyme and abused adverbs quite some time past in the conversation. This tears through his foppish poet persona with a small whispered observation. Instead of adding to the lies, he admits that he plays the part that others expect for a person of his profession and they agree to open honesty when speaking with each other. (With the silent and unshared stipulation on each side that their secrets stay safe.) What follows this illuminating conversation is several amusing and endearing notes between the two as their script and friendship unfolds and develops.

The scene then moves to Malmaison. Rehearsals are going well, despite Miss Gwen’s piratical perfectionism. Augustus awes the cast with his acting prowess, but refuses to affront his muses by becoming a thespian. Mr Fulton’s wave machine arrives at the last minute crated tightly and nailed shut. Augustus leaves the theater in a huff in search of a crowbar to release the mechanical device from it’s packaged prison after Emma attempts to warn him that while Jane is a lovely person, she is not interested in romance or being romantical. As lady luck would have it, he come across Jane in the gardens while looking for the tools.

Augustus tries to bare his love-filled soul to Jane, but she diverts and circumnavigates the conversation so he can never quite declare himself. She does it so well that the poet cannot help but know that it is deliberate. Jane simply isn’t interested and wants to keep him from embarrassing himself. He is heartbroken, but can no longer hide behind his rose colored glasses. He grabs the sought-after crowbar and returns reluctantly to the theater and Emma.

Awaiting the inevitable “I told you so,” he tells Emma of his heart-shattering discussion in the garden. Instead of gloating, she does her best to offer sympathy and comfort. At first he rebuffs her attempts, but her silver lining sensibility shines through and eventually he allows her to give him a shoulder to lean on – literally. To both of their surprise, he then tenders her a kiss — or two. At first Emma is elated, but then decides that he is merely using her as a warm body to ease his broken heart. She tries to leave the situation gracefully, but a befuddled Augustus won’t let things lie. Not wanting to lose his friendship, but internally seething at his obtuseness, she decides to avoid picking a fight by heading into the mansion, and right into Madame Bonaparte’s early arrived court.

The wife of the soon-to-be emperor offers Emma a permanent place in her court as a lady-in-waiting, but Emma turns it down demurely. She allows the lady to presume it is because she will be leaving France soon for America as Kort’s wife. She engages in a verbal fencing match with a pernicious lady and is shocked when Marsden makes an unwanted appearance.

In modern times. . .

Cate the Clipboard girl reveals how unpopular Dempster is with the crew. The scuttlebutt on set is he only got the job of consultant because of his girlfriend’s connections. Eloise suspects Dempster of going through her notes, computer files, and the Selwick family library looking for the Pink Carnation’s identity. Needless to say, Colin is less than thrilled that his sister’s ex (or is it not-so-ex) is now prowling his personal domain.

What is it exactly that Marsden wants from Emma? What is “the device” that Napoleon plans to unveil? Is there any possible way to make Colin’s day any worse? Should Eloise take the TF job back in the U.S.A.?

All this and more in the next exciting installment of The Garden Intrigue!

In Which We Are Talking about Bonapartes

This post is by Amanda, the other half of the sisters posting at Gun in Act One.  The Garden Intrigue, more than any of the Pink books thus far, gives us a look at Napoleon as a man with a family.  Yes- his family members are clearly political currency for him, but that doesn’t seem to always have been the case.  It seems to me that Napoleon and Josephine are depicted as an epic love story – but it’s one that I don’t know much about.  Who was Hortense?  Pauline?  Caroline?  All these women around this little man are making me curious so I did a bit of digging and this is what I’ve learned so far.

Emma reminisces on the pre-Imperial days about a time when Josephine was taking lovers and still being courted by Napoleon.  Who was this woman that was so admired?  On my TBR for a while has been Josephine: Desire, Ambition, Napoleon.  How did Josephine survive the Terror?  Did she want to be Empress?  Who was Hortense’s father?  How did Josephine marry her only daughter off as a political tool?  Hortense was beautiful!  Can’t you just see her as a young lady gossiping with Emma and Jane?


Lauren’s bibliography suggests Daughter to Napoleon by Constance Wright as well as Hortense’s own published memoirs.  I didn’t know our Hortense went on to become Queen of Holland and I’m now fascinated!  Wright’s book includes portions of Hortense’s memoirs as well so I think I will add it to my lengthy TBR.

Napoleon’s sisters sound no where near as pleasant as Josephine and her daughter.  Were they really so catty and nasty I wonder?  Or is this a great plot device by our Lauren?  The Garden Intrigue bibliography includes Napoleon: His Wives and Women which sounds like it fits what I’m looking for.  Perhaps the Bonaparte sisters were simply as ambitious and determined as their brother, but as so often happens in history their attempts to take what power they could have them disparaged in memory.  It would be interesting to see how they’re remembered by contemporaries like Hortense in her own words.

Are there any great books that I’m missing?  Perhaps more historical fiction featuring Napoleon and his women?  Which of the real people mentioned in the Pink series would you like to read more about?

The Mayfair Affair


Those of you who have been following the blog for a while know that I am fiercely devoted to a handful of authors that I found through Lauren’s website and her “If You Like” posts. One of my absolute favorites is Tracy Grant, author of a historical mystery series set in Napoleonic France featuring the husband-and-wife spy team Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch. The first book Tracy published with Kensington for this series, Vienna Waltz, is fabulous. If you haven’t tried it, add it to your reading list! I promise you won’t regret it.

Today, Tracy is a guest on Lauren’s website with an “If You Like” post of her own. We just finished talking about governess books, thanks to our re-read of The Orchid Affair. Tracy’s latest novel in her series, The Mayfair Affair, has a governess at the heart of the action – Laura Dudley, caretaker of Malcolm and Suzanne’s children, who is found standing over the body of the murdered Duke of Trenchard. In her post on Lauren’s site today, Tracy talks a bit about her newest release and then recommends a few governess books that she enjoys. Head over to Lauren’s site and take a look! And if you follow Deanna Raybourn’s blog, be on the lookout for a post from Tracy there as well. That post will be live tomorrow.

I’m also very pleased to say that Tracy will be paying another visit to the Bubble Bath Reader next week – on May 18th, she will be stopping by to answer a few questions and to give away a copy of The Mayfair Affair to a lucky reader. Make sure you check in for a chance to win!

Pink IX Week 1 in Review

Happy Friday!  I will kick things off today by announcing the winner of the signed copy of The Garden Intrigue.  Congratulations to Emma (username pittsemma)!  Emma, if you will send me a message at with your mailing address, I will get your prize on the way to you ASAP.

And now, over to Holly and Amanda, our moderators for Pink IX!

gardenHolly and Amanda here to talk about Chapters 1-9 of The Garden Intrigue – there is a lot going on in both nineteenth century Paris and modern day England, so let’s jump right into the action!

Who you need to remember:

Eloise and Colin – our favorite modern day framing device

Jane Wooliston – aka the Pink Carnation, but let’s keep that fact from Nigel Dempster (modern day curator of the Vaughn Collection), please

Emma Morris Delagardie – our American heroine, sarcastically named “the Grand Inquisitor for Poetical Excellence, Greater Paris Branch,” by:

Augustus Whittlesby – English spy masquerading as a terrible French poet for years upon years

Kortright Livingston – Emma’s cousin, who come to Paris expecting to bring Emma home, at her mother’s bidding

Georges Marston – a returning bad dude from Pink I – and Emma’s ex-lover from shortly after she was widowed

What’s going on:

We begin a familiar location, the Hotel de Balcourt, site of many great scenes back in Pink I. Here, Augustus Whittlesby is found giving his typical bad poetry reading. He is interrupted by Madame (widowed) Emma Delagardie, who questions his artistic choices. As he’s trying to gather his composure, he’s distracted by the unexpected appearance of junior agent Horace de Lilly.

Whittlesby, ostensibly seeking consultation with the muses, arranges a quick conversation with de Lilly, where he gets word that the First Consul is readying the fleet and preparing to invade England.

In turn, Whittlesby arranges a tete-a-tete with Jane. They walk and sit in the garden, where all the world sees a lovelorn poet reciting verse to his muse. In actuality, Whittlesby tells Jane of the news from his contact, adding the further detail that his sources report that the French are working on a mysterious device, which they are planning on testing a month from now, on the grounds of Malmaison, during a party to honor the American envoy to France. Whittlesby needs to secure an invitation to the party, and Jane tells him that his best bet is the young woman who was heckling him during his reading.

Emma – the American in Paris – has American familial connections in high places, as well as strong relationships in France. She has been best friends with Hortense de Beauharnais since they were teenagers – right about the time that Hortense’s mother married an army general named Bonaparte. She’s related to the American envoy who Napoleon wants on his side. All of this means that Emma is very much involved in the upcoming party at Malmaison – so involved that she has been asked to write a performance for the evening. Jane suggests that Whittlesby offer his artistic services to Emma for this task.

It seems we have the makings for a love triangle happening: Emma pokes fun at Whittlesby as a means of harmless flirtation. She notices that Whittlesby looks so very nice in his pantaloons, and her attraction does not escape the notice of her friend, Jane Wooliston. At the same time, our Whittlesby is, in fact, a lovelorn poet, pining for Jane. Just listen to how he describes her (in prose, not in his poetic persona):

She made it seem so easy, as effortless and inevitable as the endless washing of waves against the beach. He had to remind himself, sometimes, that she was nearly a decade his junior. She had arrived in France fresh from the seclusion of the English countryside, with no training other than that which she had devised for herself. As far as Augustus could tell, she hadn’t put a foot wrong since…It wasn’t her professionalism that caught him, or her beauty. It was the humor with which she entered into his ridiculous charades, the glint in her eyes as she received his more alarming effusions. Competent, beautiful, and clever. What man wouldn’t succumb?

Whittlesby takes up Jane’s suggestion and walks over to offer his help to Emma – just as she is trapped by the overbearing Marston, who is either looking for a good time or for a foolish woman with money to spare. Poor Emma is also trying to navigate the arrival of her cousin Kortright in Paris – her cousin turned childhood crush, though it seems those feelings have passed. Emma summarily dismisses Marston, or at least tries to. Whittlesby finds himself also turned down, as Emma reports she has no intention of writing the masque for the event. Undeterred, he shows up the next day at Emma’s “morning” salon, which appears to be wrapping up around 2 p.m. – with perfect timing, because Emma spots him just as she’s stuck in an awkward conversation, learning that her family expects her to return home to America. Struck by inspiration, she announces she simply cannot leave Paris because she and Whittlesby are writing a masque for First Consul’s next party.

Once that’s been established, the writing begins, but not before Whittlesby has a brief chance to snoop through Emma’s desk. He is not sure whether she has anything to do with relaying information between the Americans and the French, but he’s not taking any chances, especially after he saw her cousin Kortright with a mysterious diagram the previous evening.

The two have their first real interaction as they begin writing, deciding on a masque in three parts, involving an American hero bringing a fleet with the bounty of the New World as a pledge to win the heroine’s hand – with the part of the heroine written for Hortense. There will also be pirates involved.

The first writing session comes to a close when Emma announces she has an appointment, grabs something off her desk, and rushes off to meet Hortense. Her best friend, trapped in a loveless marriage with a Bonaparte, announces she is pregnant, which means Jane will have to stand in as the heroine in the masque. Hortense also tells Emma and Jane: “my stepfather has an important announcement to make…Maman has a surprise for you, too, but she wants to tell you herself.”

What a whirlwind of activity and suspicion! What was the diagram that Kortright had, and what did Emma bring over to Hortense? What is the deal with poor Hortense? And, will Marston prove to be truly a villain, or is he merely an annoyance?

In modern times…

Eloise and Colin are at Colin’s home at Selwick Hall, dealing with the barbaric American film crew from DreamStone. If you recall, Colin’s jerk of a step-father/cousin, Jeremy, has allowed for the filming of a Regency dress version of Much Ado About Nothing. Jeremy is absolutely in this for the money, but making Colin angry and powerless is a nice side benefit.

Eloise receives an email from home offering a two sections and the position of head teaching fellow for Modern Europe course. “Two sections and the head TF post meant my rent would be paid.” Ignoring that for the moment, Eloise sets herself up to work in the library while Colin works on his alleged spy novel. She is irritated to find that her notes have been disturbed – the film people are not taking seriously the instructions to leave the family living space alone!

Colin and Eloise are bracing themselves for the large dinner party Jeremy has set up with the DreamStone team. Eloise makes friends with Cate, a DreamStone intern, and sees the seating chart for the big dinner, where Eloise is (inconveniently) seated far from Colin. She also finds out the historical consultant on the piece is Nigel Dempster, curator of the Vaughn Collection (and Serena’s ex-boyfriend) – cue the villain music!

What’s going on with Eloise’s notes? And, what is our heroine to do about the teaching offer? Accept and know when she has to leave England and Colin? Or try to stay on in London with financial uncertainty?

Let’s talk PhDs!

This post is written by Holly, half of the sister duo posting for The Garden Intrigue this month.


As I mentioned in our first post, this Pink for All Seasons readathon has been my first read of all of the Pink books, with the exception of #1, which I had picked up years ago on my sister’s recommendation (which is where at least half of my reading list comes from). I am loving the series for many reasons: the differences between each relationship, the combination of humor and history, and the reappearance of characters we’ve met before. There’s another aspect I love just as well: Eloise, and her realistic adventures of being a graduate student.

Having done a stint as a full-time social science PhD student, I feel a bit of a connection with Eloise, and with Lauren Willig herself. After all, Lauren’s biography states: After graduating from Yale University, she embarked on a PhD in English History at Harvard before leaving academia to acquire a JD at Harvard Law while authoring her “Pink Carnation” series of Napoleonic-set novels.

In addition to the details she provides about English spies, Lauren peppers Eloise’s chapters with some of the ins-and-outs of life on the PhD track. Like these:

In October, I had been just another bedraggled American grad student in London, desperately combing the archives for the materials I needed to turn my dissertation from a vague outline into a heartbreaking work of staggering scholarship. We had been told to go forth and find a gap in historiography, and that’s just what I had done, smugly certain that I would put together pieces no one else had been able to connect, patting myself on the back for my cleverness in picking as my field of study a country in which the language was my own…

It didn’t occur to me until later that there might be a slight problem. Historians are dependent on documentary evidence for the reconstruction of the past. When the people involved routinely burn the documents in question, there isn’t a lot left to go on.

I did not study history, and I did not study at Harvard, but I did find some of the same challenges in academia. I embarked on my graduate school career, after a few years of nonprofit work, full of great memories from college courses. Grad school was going to be enlightening, and inspiring, and I would go on to be just like my undergrad professors that had challenged me to approach the world from different angles. Like Eloise, I was ready to find a dissertation topic that would thrill me down to the polish on my toenails.

On the first day of grad school, the fifteen incoming students in my program heard two things: the completion rate is 50%, and the average time to finish in the department is six to seven years. Of course, we all looked around the room, thinking ‘not me! Maybe that guy over there.” I had visions, like Eloise, of research in exotic locations, enrapt students, and bringing down that seven year average.

Eloise, too, knows the very real fear of never leaving, as she tells Colin “I probably should get back to work if I don’t want to be one of those five-thousand-year grad students.”

I really feel for Eloise here in the opening scenes of The Garden Intrigue. She is clearly passionate about her research, and she’s finding amazing stories thanks to her exclusive access to Selwick Hall. I am not sure about Lauren’s career in the Harvard English History program (someone remind me to ask for the next Ask the Author!), but Eloise is certainly more dedicated to her research than I was.

And then she gets an offer she may not be able to refuse – a teaching fellowship for the next academic year. For the most part, students in PhD programs do not pay tuition. They put together teaching or research positions, or scholarships, which cover tuition and fees and provide a living stipend. Positions are roughly based on a forty-hour work week, which means a 50% position (often three sections of teaching) requires approximately 20 hours of work a week, and should provide enough of a stipend to live on. Some schools do a better job of coordinating these options for students than others, and it can actually get harder to compile something the longer you stay in a program, as first dibs go to new students. Eloise knows that this is a pretty great gig she’s being offered, as opposed to “piecing together teaching jobs in different courses, a section here, a section there, which meant triple the effort learning the material and keeping up with the coursework.”

Until this book, I haven’t given too much thought to the future for Colin and Eloise. They were so hot and cold for the first few books that I guess I was expecting more back and forth and drama. It seems that things are getting pretty serious now though – and I’m finally starting to wonder: is Eloise going to head back to Harvard to finish her degree?

I have to say, I won’t be disappointed if she doesn’t. And, I say that as a dyed-in-the-wool feminist who works for an organization devoted to girl leadership. I just don’t think Eloise needs a PhD to be happy and successful (that’s with or without a significant other, mind you). I’m so used to her traipsing around London that I’m not sure I picture her as an academic, teaching survey courses on European history. And Lauren Willig must have decided she didn’t need a PhD to be happy and successful, so I’m wondering if she’ll help Eloise with that decision too.

As for me, I also decided after 2 years that I didn’t need a PhD to be happy and successful. My closest friend decided the same after 3, and a former roommate left after 4 when she had trouble piecing together those teaching sections. Another good friend of ours stayed in for 8 years before he quit in the home stretch. Turns out those day one facts were spot on.

So, let’s discuss. What do you think?