This post was written by Paige.
What kind of person travels with a trunk full of billiard balls? That was certainly Colonel Reid’s question during these chapters. The answer, of course, is The Pink Carnation and The Purple Plumeria. But Colonel Reid only knows them as Miss Jane Wooliston and her chaperone, Miss Gwendolyn Meadows. As far as he knows, the three of them are on their way to Selwick Hall in Sussex to reunite with his daughter and her friend. Can you imagine his confusion when their carriage is chased and shot at by men on horseback? And the two women shoot back?
This was the section of the book that solidified my love for Colonel Reid. He is nobody’s fool. He realizes that something is peculiar before the actual attack. After all, he did serve in the cavalry for 30 years and is a Colonel, so he has a finely-honed sense of observation. He processes quickly and reacts well to a situation he was not anticipating. His instincts and training serve him well, and he ends up kicking out the back window of the carriage and joining the defensive attack. Can you imagine what must have been going through his mind as he held Miss Gwen’s legs while she leaned out the window of the moving carriage and shot at their pursuers?
The lovely thing about Colonel Reid is that he doesn’t dwell on the why of the circumstances. As has been his pattern throughout the book so far, he assesses and follows his instincts. He also shows the depth of his his battle skills. So far, we have seen him being kind, fair, and decent. We have seen his love for his children and his affection for Miss Gwen. Granted, there was the skirmish he and Miss Gwen had with the brigands that injured him earlier in the book. But this is where we get a real sense of his military leadership. This is where we see Colonel Reid being a cavalry officer of the East India Company’s army. These are the chapters where he is described as having a piratical grin. This is where we get to see his swash and buckle, and I am all for swash and buckle.
What makes his swash and buckle so swoon-worthy for me is that Colonel Reid is not doing it for show. He is truly fighting for what he believes in. He doesn’t know exactly what the trouble is that Miss Gwen has gotten herself into, but he likes her as a person and is going to help her. Then, there is the scene in the Hellfire Club when his instinct is to rescue the girl in their ritual, even though she turns out not to be his daughter or even someone he knows because, as he says, “It’s someone’s daughter.” Colonel Reid has honor. His big fight with Miss Gwen occurs when she accuses him of not keeping watch over his own children. In reality, he sent his two daughters off to England for their protection. He also did everything in his power to ensure his sons all had decent positions and job prospects. He loves all of his children, whether they are considered legitimate or not.
Then, of course, he sees Miss Gwen as Gwendolyn. He sees her for what she is underneath all of her protective layers, and he accepts her, layers and all. As a matter of fact, he likes her and tells her that he likes her. He challenges her self-perceptions at times, but he never asks her to change. He likes that she has to have the last word and he likes that she keeps him in line. He goes so far as to recognize that her lips were not meant to be stern. He sees her close enough to notice her lips. He is the real deal. How did you feel about Colonel Reid this week? I particularly enjoyed how Lauren gives us enough of the spice of their physical relationship while keeping the “bedroom door” closed. What are your feelings?
The other major thing that caught my attention this week was the conflict and confrontation between Miss Gwen and Jane. Despite the foreshadowing earlier in the book, I was not prepared for the intense pain that would result or the huge dissonance there is between Miss Gwen’s perception of the league and mission and what Jane’s actual plans and operations are. It hurt me to see the breach in their partnership and it was like a slap in my face right along with Miss Gwen’s as she begins to realize that Jane is probably correct: Miss Gwen probably doesn’t always act with the most prudence. The swinging through curtains and leaping off balconies is adventuresome, but there is reference to times when there has been some jeopardy to the league as a result of some of Miss Gwen’s antics.
As Miss Gwen learns that what she assumes to have been a partnership is really not the case, and that Jane has not disclosed all to her, my heart was heavy. I had such empathy for Miss Gwen, yet I also felt some of the weight that Jane has on her shoulders. Miss Gwen loves Jane, and I think that Jane also cares for Miss Gwen. What were you thinking? Did you find yourself sympathizing more with either Gwen or Jane?
Other developments this week include the revelation that Colonel Reid’s son, Jack, is the Moonflower, a French spy who has recently defected and taken the jewels of Berar. Things are going to be getting even more interesting, which I could hardly have believed possible. In modern day, Colin and Eloise are still searching with Jeremy for the jewels of Berar and things are tense between Colin and Jeremy. Our cliffhanger there this week is that they came home to find the front door open and the front hall appearing to be vandalized.
Once again, there was so much that happened this week! What did you think about the visit to the theatre? Was there anything else that particularly caught your attention this week? There is so much that we can discuss! Have a lovely Friday and an enjoyable weekend!