Skip to main content

Review of "The Lure of the Moonflower" by Lauren Willig

the lure of the moonflowerYes, this review is several months late.  Yes, I've now read this book twice.  Yes, it was worth it.  Very, very worth it.  The first time around, I started reading it the Friday after it was released (around 4 pm) and finished it 1 AM Sunday morning (so, really it was still Saturday).  This time, I was in the middle of binging Chuck on DVD, so it took a little longer (I started it Friday night and finished it this afternoon).  I did, however, read the majority of it yesterday and today (I finished season 2 of Chuck and decided to put off season 3 until I read a couple of books).

Moonflower is the last of the Pink Carnation novels (I think it is number 12 or 13, but I've lost count at this point), so of course it is Jane's book.  If you haven't read the other books in the series, now would be a good point to start on that.  I'll wait.

 

****
*****
******
*******
********
*********
**********

Are you done yet?

***********
************
*************
**************

How about now?

***************
****************
*****************
******************

Now?  Good.

In all seriousness, if you haven't read this series yet and don't want to be spoiled on key details STOP READINGFOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, STOP READING!!!

Where was I?  Oh, right.  The Lure of the Moonflower is Jane's story.  She is our main heroine throughout all of the books.  Each book had its own couple, starting with Amy and Richard, but Jane was in the background of all of them (except for the second to last book, which I did not like and do not ever plan on re-reading because really it is absolute, total filler).

this lines mostly filler

No, I have not gotten over my disappointment in that book.  Yes, I am aware it has been well over a year since it came out, but come on!  It had no spies and relied on the overused vampire trope, even though he wasn't a vampire.  Ugh.  I HATE that book.

Anyway.  The Moonflower.

I think everyone who read Plumeria, which should have been the 2nd to last book, dammit, at least suspected that Moonflower, aka Jack Reid, was going to be Jane's hero.  Who else?  It sure as hell wasn't going to be The Gardener.

The action in this book takes place two years after that of Plumeria and about a year after that book, so it is now 1807 and Jane is in Portugal, trying to restore Queen Maria to the throne, despite whatever psychological illness Queen Maria suffered from thanks to the seriously inbred royal family.  (I'm fairly certain that they were brought up in this podcast--if you are not listening to Nerds on History or Nerds on Film, you need to because these people are awesome!)  Unfortunately, Jane does not speak Portuguese and she does not know her way around Portugal.  That's where Jack comes into play.  Now, that he's switched sides (he was originally working for the French/The Gardener, but because of something the Gardener ordered him to do, he started working for the English and William Wickham) he's been assigned to keep an eye on things in Portugal since Napoleon really wanted his empire to stretch across all of Europe and they believed that he was after Queen Maria.  Neither Jack nor Jane were happy to be working together, although Jane had some understandable reasons for not wanting to work with him.

If you're familiar with the series, you're aware that other than Jane, there was one other character that was in the background of every single Carnation book--Eloise Kelly, the American historian searching for the identity of that flowery spy, while falling in love with the descendant of another flowery spy (the Purple Gentian--aka Lord Richard Selwick, hero of book 1, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation).  In this book, Eloise and Colin are embarking on their life together with the wedding to end all weddings, held at Selwick Hall.  Of course, they also have to deal with the kidnapping of Colin's aunt, Mrs. Selwick-Alderly.

Romancing the StonePut the two parts together and you get one weirdly endearing, updated version of Romancing the Stone, which I picked up on fairly quickly despite only seeing bits and pieces of the movie.  Hell, Jack was even the first name of the hero from the movie!  Willig has even mentioned in interviews that she pictured Jane sitting around a campfire with a guy in a hat.  I wonder if subconsciously this image was her inspiration for that scene (which wasn't in the book, btw).

What I liked about Moonflower is the same thing I like about all the other Carnation books (barring that book).  It is smart and funny.  She doesn't talk down to her readers; she assumes that they're all smart enough to understand what she's writing.  Willig's prose has a fluidity not seen in many other books and it was one of the first thinks I noticed about her books when I started reading them in 2011 (six years after the first book was released).  I love that she puts all these little pop culture references in them--in one book, she alluded to Culture Club's Karma Chameleon.

I also like the fact that we get an update on some of the other characters in the series, namely Richard and Amy (although Amy was not present in the book), Miles and Henrietta, Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid, and Lizzy Reid.  You have no idea how happy I was to see Miles and Henrietta--The Masque of the Black Tulip has been one of my favorite books since the first time I read it.  I love Miles.  He and Henrietta were perfect for each other.

The only thing that bothered me with this last book in the series is that if you read the extras, there are a lot of things that are left hanging.  For one, Willig explains that the Gardener ends up marrying one of the ancillary characters and I just can't wrap my head around that.  We know that he's not a good guy.  He's done a lot of awful things, including murdering someone a few chapters before the end of this book.  I don't see how he can be redeemed.  Ms. Willig has said that she wants to return to this world in the future because there are more shenanigans that could happen during the Napoleonic Wars as well as The War of 1812.  (I emailed her after I read Moonflower the first time, and she said that Jack and Jane would definitely have been involved in that war.  I love that she took the time to respond to me!  I'm fangirling here.)

5 Stars

Comments

  1. […] 3. The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig: I was so sad to see this series end, especially considering how much could still be done with it.  One of the things I like about Willig’s books is how she uses pop culture in them.  This was very much a retelling of Romancing the Stone and it totally fit in with the world Willig created.  Jack and Jane were two sides of the same awesome coin and I love that Jane didn’t have to give up herself for him.  All of the other books in the series, no matter how good they were, all ended with the hero and heroine giving up the spy stuff and living a normal life.  Even Amy and Richard, who opened the spy school stopped actually spying once they were married–not that Richard could continue with his cover blown. […]

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Fifteen Years Later: Review of "His Sinful Touch" by Candace Camp

Title: His Sinful Touch
Author: Candace Camp
ISBN: 0373789963
Publisher: HQN
Series: Mad Morelands #5
Price: $5.98 (Paperback) $5.99 (e-book) $19.96(Audible)
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2


Most readers remember their first, the first book of their particular genre that they read, whether they enjoyed the book or not.  I have two firsts--the first romance I ever read was a Harlequin Intrigue written by Amanda Stevens.  If you've read my blog before you probably already know this.  The first historical romance I read was Mesmerized by Candace Camp, which was also the first book in her Mad Morelands series.  

I was a senior in high school when this series began and I remember seeing the paperback version of Mesmerized on the shelf at the Target on Queens Blvd (yes, I spent a lot of time on Queens Blvd as a teenager), and was pulled in by the gorgeous cover.  Apparently, that book has had several covers over the last 15 years, but this is the one I remember:


Isn't it pretty?  Of course from the cover I…

Happy Bookaversary! A Review of "Edge of Darkness" by Karen Rose

Title: Edge of Darkness
Author: Karen Rose
ISBN: 9780399583087
Publisher: Berkeley
Series: Cincinnati Series
Price: $5.98 (Paperback) $7.99 (e-book) $28.28(Audible)
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


It seems like I've been reading Karen Rose novels my entire life.  I remember the day I came across Count to Ten in the Duane Reade on Queens Blvd.  I'd finished the paperback I brought with me to school that day while sitting in the Dining Hall eating lunch and needed something for the long bus ride home.  I almost didn't buy it because it was $9.99 and I hadn't gotten my financial aid money yet, but the cover copy called to me.  Not even the 500+ page count could scare me away.

I recently learned that Edge of Darkness is Ms. Rose's 20th book and in a strange way, I feel like a proud mama watching her child cross the stage to get their diploma.  I'm just a big ball of happy nostalgia, thinking back to all of the other books I've read by her and hopeful about the ones to come, so befor…

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year--Christmas in September

The day after Labor Day I woke up to an email from my contacts at St. Martin’s Press, inviting me to review six of their upcoming Christmas books, all of which have release dates in early October. For most people, this would probably be a problem — who wants to think about Christmas before Halloween — but for me, I’ve always had a soft spot for the man in the red suit. Even after I stopped believing in the Christ-Myth, I still loved that one holiday. To me, Christmas represents everything that Thanksgiving is supposed to be, but with better music and no obligatory turkey. Some of my favorite books have a Christmas theme and so I jumped at the chance to review those six books (well, five of them because the sixth has to do with cowboys and if there is one sub-genre I just cannot do is cowboys). I read the first two, With This Christmas Ring by Manda Collins and Deck the Halls by Donna Alward, fairly quickly, especially since they’re both novellas. Both are being released in a little o…

Review of "New York, Actually" by Sarah Morgan

Title: New York, Actually
Author: Sarah Morgan
ISBN: 0373804105
Publisher: HQN Books
Series: From Manhattan with Love #4
Price: $5.98 (Paperback) $5.99 (e-book) $19.96 (Audible)
Rating: 🐶🐶🐶🐶1/2


If you follow me on social media, you'll have seen my posts about this book over the last week.  For the most part, they weren't very positive -- until about 20% into the book, I hated the hero.  If I could have set him on fire, I probably would have.  It was only Ms. Morgan's prose and the fact that I had been looking forward to this book for 6 months that kept me reading.  For once, I am glad I was so wrong about a character.

From the PublisherOne man. One woman. Two dogs.  Meet Molly—New York's most famous advice columnist, she considers herself an expert at relationships…as long as they're other people's. Still bruised from her last breakup, Molly is in no rush to find happily-ever-after—the only love of her life is her dalmatian, Valentine.  Meet Daniel—A cynical divorce …

The Internet of Things: Review of "Hacking IT" by Kimberly Dean

Title: Hacking IT
Author: Kimberly Dean
ISBN: 9781386835561
Publisher: Self-published
Series: Hackers #1
Price: $3.99 (e-book) $9.99 (paperback)
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2


Have you ever seen the description of a book and known immediately that it was going to be awesome and upon reading it were faced with the possibility that it might actually be better than you originally thought?  For me, that book was Hacking IT by Kimberly Dean.  A female white hat hacker using her skills to uncover a black hat hacker, who has stepped away from his computer and entered the real world?  Um, yes, please.

From the Publisher:
Independent software developer Kylie Grant is on top of her game in the world of IT. She has loyal clients, a good reputation, and a prestigious membership in technology giant Afire Industries’ small business accelerator. Things are going well until she stumbles across an innocuous issue with the lighting in the building where she rents space. When she digs into the problem, she discovers some…