Madame Emma Delagardie has become a poetry heckler. Augustus Whittlesby thought that he had created the perfect cover when he started using ridiculously effusive poetry to send coded messages back to England from Napoleonic France, until he began experiencing heckling in the form of Emma. He’s tired of outrageous clothes and being thought of as an idiot.
Emma, an American emigre, lost her husband four years earlier and has done her best to earn the label of “merry widow.” But her parties, paste jewels, and ever-flowing champagne are her attempt to cover the grief for a husband that she only came to appreciate when it was too late.
Fate forces Whittlesby to deal with the biggest annoyance in his life when he needs to find a way to get an invitation to Napoleon’s house party and Emma’s commission to write a masque for the occasion is the only possibility. Spending hours together, writing and laughing, makes both of them wonder if appearances aren’t always what they seem. Augustus has a difficult time focusing on the mission and begins to question if it is worth the sacrifices he’s made for the good of his country.
The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig is another outstanding installment in The Pink Carnation Series, but works on its own just as well. Rollicking dialogue, humorous espionage, and a delightful romance make for a great read.