The Passion of the Purple Plumeria by Lauren Willig

15768463I usually grab the next Pink Carnation book as soon as it comes out, but since I knew this one was about Miss Gwen, I wasn’t as enthused. So far, Miss Gwen has been a snarly, sharp-tongued old lady who likes to hit people with her parasol while making sure that The Pink Carnation does what she needs to do. Watching her fall in love with whatever old man Ms. Willig would dream up just didn’t sound like a good time. But I saw that Katia has enjoyed it and I figured I’d try it out.

Turns out Miss Gwen is only an old lady by Napoleonic terms being all of 45. She has a tragic back story that makes clear why she acts the way she does and most of the surliness is just a part she plays while with Jane and the youngsters. It was nice to see that Gwen doesn’t give up her chirpiness with Colonel Reid and they have a nice repartee, reminiscent of those 40s and 50s screen couples. And because of their advanced ages, we actually get some bedroom scenes in the way that we don’t usually because it’s 1804. Much more satisfying than longing glances and fleeting touches on the arm.

There was some development in the Pink Carnation organization as well, and it really set the stage for the next book, which I’m now eagerly awaiting. It was nice to see some of the couples from the previous books coming together at the end of this one, though I do still have a hard time keeping everyone straight.

The modern-day plot with Colin and Eloise was charming, though I could have done without it as well. They used to be my favorite thing about these books, but their relationship moves so slowly that it’s hard to go back to 2004 every time. They took a nice step forward here, but with Eloise heading back to the States in the next book (likely), I’m curious how that relationship will shake out.