New York-born Emma Morris Delagardie is a thorn in Augustus's side. An old school friend of Napoleon's stepdaughter, she came to France with her uncle, the American envoy; eloped with a Frenchman; and has been rattling around the salons of Paris ever since. Widowed for four years, she entertains herself by drinking too much champagne, holding a weekly salon, and loudly critiquing Augustus's poetry.
As Napoleon pursues his plans for the invasion of England, Whittlesby hears of a top-secret device to be demonstrated at a house party at Malmaison. The catch? The only way in is with Emma, who has been asked to write a masque for the weekend's entertainment.
Emma is at a crossroads: Should she return to the States or remain in France? She'll do anything to postpone the decision-even if it means teaming up with that silly poet Whittlesby to write a masque for Bonaparte's house party. But each soon learns that surface appearances are misleading. In this complicated masque within a masque, nothing goes quite as scripted- especially Augustus's feelings for Emma. ( synopsis from Amazon.com)
Dutton, Hardcover, 400 pages
Emma Delagardie is an American living in France during the Napoleonic era. She is a longtime friend of the emperor’s stepdaughter, Hortense and has entrée to the court. Augustus Whittlesby is an excruciatingly bad poet who is also an agent in the Pink Carnation’s network. He and the Pink Carnation have a mission to discover what the newest plot of Napoleon’s is to attack Britain. It apparently involves some sort of new mechanical weaponry and it is essential that they find out. Whittlesby must ingratiate himself into Emma’s circle so he can have access to the right people. Emma is not happy about having to work with Augustus when she becomes responsible for a masque to celebrate Napoleon’s rumored ascension from First Consul to Emperor. Gradually the two discover that they have more than the masque in common and feelings change. There is added stress to the relationship from Emma’s American relatives trying to pressure her to come back home and a French rogue who is pressuring her to marry him. Augustus has his work cut out for him both in the spy game and in his budding romance.
One of the interesting plot devices that Ms. Willig uses in this series is the going back and forth from the time of the Pink Carnation to modern day England. By having American researcher Eloise Kelly doing research on the fabled Pink Carnation and having access to the historical papers of the Selwick family, you get to see another perspective on the main couple of the story. I enjoy the story between Eloise and Colin Selwick which has worked its way through all nine books. While the main story has a resolution, the relationship between Eloise and Colin remains in flux.
I enjoyed the introduction of some American history in this book with Fulton’s steam engine making an appearance. Emma and Augustus have a view of the turmoil that was going on during this particular time in French history and as always Ms. Willig weaves accurate historical facts into a wonderful romance with a hint of mystery. When I finish each book in the series I can’t wait for the next one to come out!