The historical section of The Orchid Affair was great. The modern section seemed mostly to serve to influence the pace of the book as a whole– I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t very substantial.
Summary via Lauren Willig’s website:
Laura Grey, a veteran governess, joins the Selwick Spy School expecting to find elaborate disguises and thrilling exploits in service to the spy known as the Pink Carnation. She hardly expects her first assignment to be serving as governess for the children of Andre Jaouen, right-hand man to Bonaparte’s minister of police. Jaouen and his arch rival, Gaston Delaroche, are investigating a suspected Royalist plot to unseat Bonaparte, and Laura’s mission is to report any suspicious findings. At first the job is as lively as Latin textbooks and knitting, but Laura begins to notice strange behavior from Jaouen—secret meetings and odd comings and goings. As Laura edges closer to her employer, she makes a shocking discovery and is surprised to learn that she has far more in common with Jaouen than she originally thought.
Of course, I’m always a sucker for characters named Laura, but I really liked this one. I particularly appreciated how she was introduced showing the formal, reserved governess facade she shows the world, and how the layers were peeled away as I grew to know her better.
Then again, who wouldn’t love a 30+ year old governess freshly out of spy school?
I thought the author had just the right touch with Laura’s two young charges– they had personalities appropriate to their ages, and enough spark to make them interesting without being so precocious as to cause eye-rolling on my part.
And the love interest! I loved this young father trying to figure out what was right and wrong in his society, trying to protect his young children from the fallout of his political involvement. The relationship developed with a nice balance of conflict, common interests, and attraction.
I liked the French setting, as a counterpoint to the previous novels. It seems such a confusing time for the citizens of France. Pretty much all I know about this era of history is from fiction, too much of that being romance novels where I don’t trust the accuracy. For better or worse, I do trust Lauren Willig to have her facts about the time period correct.
And then there was the contemporary portion of the book.
The first chapter– the recap of what has happened in the series to this point– was fantastic. It had me laughing while refreshing my memory of all the things my sieve of a mind had forgotten. It’d allow anyone to jump into the series at this book if they wanted, filling in the earlier books at their convenience.
After that? I enjoyed Eloise, Colin, and Colin’s convoluted family party. I was highly indignant at the turn of events presented there. Eloise had me giggling on a regular basis. Even with all that, I still felt this story is being relegated to a more minor role in each book. That’s OK with me. I loved The Mischief of the Mistletoe, which had no contemporary pieces.
As always, I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!
This book was sent to me by Kate from The Parchment Girl. She received it from the publisher.