A Fine Art Cover for Pink XI

This post was written by Dara.

We have talked about covers several times before during our read along, and I am a sucker for a good book cover. I was heartbroken when the publishers switched from the fine art covers on the original books to the headless dresses, as I refer to them, that grace the covers now.  The use of fine art paintings for a cover was what drew me to pick up the original Pink in the book store because they were so completely unique from other book covers (especially other romance covers, which you can usually spot at a good 50 yards away from the heaving bosoms). So, when we came to Sally’s book, I decided I would just make my own fine art cover.

Of course, Sally has very specific requirements.  She must have blonde hair; she must have that certain je ne sais…errr…, as Turnip calls it, that sets her apart as not another simpering female of the ton. And, of course, she must have a stoat.  Once I had that sorted out, I headed to the Google machine.  (What would we do without Google?)

When you Google painting of a lady with a stoat, what comes back is Da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine. And while the stoat is there, that is clearly the wrong era for Sally.


But, apparently, they did not make many portraits of blonde young ladies during the Regency era.  And the ones that were made were decidedly not Sally.   After searching many, many pages of search results, I had a few options.

There was this one:

sally2(Penning a Letter by George Goodwin Kilburne)

Or this one:

sally3(Young Woman Drawing by Marie-Danise Villers)

Or this one of Lady Emma Hamilton, who, incidentally, appeared as Mary on the cover of Crimson Rose:

sally4(Emma Hart, later Lady Hamilton, as “Absence” by George Romney)

But none of them seemed quite right.  Finally, I stumbled across Sally by accident when I was looking for something else entirely.  But there she was, staring at me from the computer screen, my perfect Sally Fitzhugh.

sally5(La Coquette by Vittorio Reggianini . You can read more about the painting here).

With a little help from Photoshop to give Sally her stoat, we have a fine art book cover for Sally.


While I was searching for a portrait to use for Sally, I stumbled across this little gem.  For your daily giggles, I give you Sally and Turnip as little children:

sally7(Bowden Children by John Hoppner)

What do y’all think? Which covers do you like better? How does a book cover influence your feelings or decisions about a book?

I can’t wait to discuss our suspense packed first week of reading with you on Friday!  See you then.

In Which We Get to Know Dara

This post was written by Dara.

manzanillaHappy Friday everyone!

I have loved getting to know all of you through this read-along and I am so sad that it is nearly over.  Maybe we can do a non-Pink read along of the stand-alone novels.  (A girl can hope, right?) I don’t know how I will follow all of the terrific moderators we have had so far, but I will try.

A bit about myself- I was a journalism and English major in undergrad and am now working and going to grad school for my Master’s in communication, so I totally know how Eloise feels in her hours and hours in the library looking for source material, and I particularly identify with her teaching partner in this book.  I have been a fan of Lauren (and the Pinks) since I stumbled upon The Secret History of the Pink Carnation in the book store, stayed up all night reading it and immediately went and ordered Black Tulip and Emerald Ring on Amazon.  I have been painfully waiting for each installment ever since.

I’m going to show my English major here, but one of the things I love most about Lauren’s writing, Pink and non-Pink, is the layers of wit that she so carefully crafts. I have found so many new, wonderful little nuggets on these re-reads (and this is by no means the first time I have re-read most of the books). Lauren makes the most brilliant references to literature, historical figures and modern culture, and she weaves them into her prose so well that sometimes I don’t even notice them among all the other tongue and cheek humor in her writing. Some of my favorite bits of humor are the modern, anachronistic references in the historical sections, like somewhere in Black Tulip (I think), Miles says “No one can get linen as fresh as Downey” (referring to his valet of course) and in one of the books there is a reference to Dooney and Burke. It is amazing to me that she can maintain this kind of humor while writing in two very different voices/tones: her modern, “Eloise” narrative voice and the historical voice. Both are totally appropriate for the time period, and totally different sounding, but they have the same wonderful level of wit and detail.

What is your favorite thing about Lauren’s writing and the world she has built for the Pink books?

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla

Today is July 1, which means it’s time to start The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, or Pink XI in shorthand.  I’m going to hand this post over immediately to Dara, who will be moderating this month.  Today she’s sharing some fun facts and the reading schedule – on Friday, she’ll introduce herself more thoroughly.  Welcome, Dara!


Hello Pink fanatics!  I am so excited to be here with you for the LAST of our Pink for All Seasons installments in which we join the inimitable Miss Sally Fitzhugh for the Little Season in London, complete with poisonous plants and rumors of vampires.

First, the poisonous plant — I did a little research on the Manzanilla. Manchineel is the technical name of the plant; it is a poisonous plant native to Florida, the Bahamas, the Caribean, Central and South America that will cause serious bodily damage and death if you encounter it in any form. The name manchineel is sometimes seen written “mancinella,” and comes from the present-day Spanish name “manzanilla de la muerte,” meaning little apple of death. The word manzanilla alone, however, refers to chamomile, which has flowers that closely resemble daisies. So, if you ask for manzanilla tea, make sure you are getting real chamomile tea, not mancinella tea of death!

Second, and much more exciting, the vampires – You would think that by the time we got to this book I would have learned to trust Lauren, but when she announced that this would be a vampire book, I had visions of Twilight, teenage girls screaming and other horrors. Much similar, I imagine, to how Miss Gwen must have felt after the publishing of The Convent of Orsino.  Luckily for all of us, Miss Gwen (and Lauren) would never allow such shenanigans in any book she is involved in and Sally is no screaming fan girl.   So, with no further ado, let’s get started.

Here is the reading schedule for the month:

Week 1: Prologue and Chapters 1-7

Week 2: Chapters 8-14

Week 3: Chapters 15-21

Week 4: Chapters 22-28 and the extra goodies in the back.

Happy Reading!

Giveaways Galore

Hi everyone – I’m just popping in quickly to say that you should check out Lauren’s website today to see her latest announcements. She’s currently running two giveaways – one for a copy of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla and one for a Pink Carnation mug. Both contests have different rules and closing dates, so head over there and get the details.

Erin will be back tomorrow to discuss Pink II. I won’t say too much, but there will be cookies involved. On Thursday, we’ll have our last Pink II recap, and then Lauren has graciously agreed to return on Friday for Ask the Author Part II! Start thinking about any questions you may have for Lauren about Hen, Miles, and all things Masque of the Black Tulip.

Have a wonderful day!

Happy Release Day, Lauren Willig!


Today’s book birthday is (joy of joys!) The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla by Lauren Willig. This is the eleventh book in Lauren’s Pink Carnation series, and I could not be more excited for it. Lauren is one of those authors that I trust to tell me a good story regardless of the subject, but I have to admit, I raised a skeptical eyebrow when I saw that this book would involve vampires. I am so WEARY of vampires. I am tired of the books and the tv shows, and I am still astounded that the “Teen Paranormal Romance” section in Barnes & Noble is a thing. Whether they are sparkly or covered in blood and mud, I have had my fill of vampires for the time being. So my first thought when I saw the blurb for this book was, truthfully, something along the lines of “Oh dear.”

BUT. But. As I said before, I trust Lauren. Her heroine in this book is the younger sister of one of my favorite Pink characters of all time, which guarantees a few fun cameo appearances. Miss Eliza of Strange and Random Happenstance has already read this book (the lucky dog) and promises that Lauren is still bringing her A game. According to her review, Lauren isn’t so much writing a vampire novel as she is lovingly skewering vampire fiction, its authors, and its fan base.

Here is what New American Library has to say about Pink XI:

In the latest Pink Carnation novel from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig, rumors spreading among the ton turn deadly as a young couple unites to solve a mystery….
In October of 1806, the Little Season is in full swing, and Sally Fitzhugh has had enough of the endless parties and balls. With a rampant vampire craze sparked by the novel The Convent of Orsino, it seems no one can speak of anything else. But when Sally hears a rumor that the reclusive Duke of Belliston is an actual vampire, she cannot resist the challenge of proving such nonsense false. At a ball in Belliston Square, she ventures across the gardens and encounters the mysterious Duke.
Lucien, Duke of Belliston, is well versed in the trouble gossip can bring. He’s returned home to dispel the rumors of scandal surrounding his parents’ deaths, which hint at everything from treason to dark sorcery. While he searches for the truth, he welcomes his fearsome reputation—until a woman is found dead in Richmond. Her blood drained from her throat.
Lucien and Sally join forces to stop the so-called vampire from killing again. Someone managed to get away with killing the last Duke of Belliston. But they won’t kill this duke—not if Sally has anything to say about it.

I know where I’m headed after work today!