historical4 star

The Lure of the Moonflower

Pink Carnation, Book #12

By Lauren Willig


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Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele


Portugal, December 1807. Jack Reid, the British agent known as the Moonflower (formerly the French agent known as the Moonflower), has been stationed in Portugal and is awaiting his new contact. He does not expect to be paired with a woman—especially not the legendary Pink Carnation.

All of Portugal believes that the royal family departed for Brazil just before the French troops marched into Lisbon. Only the English government knows that mad seventy-three-year-old Queen Maria was spirited away by a group of loyalists determined to rally a resistance. But as the French garrison scours the countryside, it’s only a matter of time before she’s found and taken.

It’s up to Jane to find her first and ensure her safety. But she has no knowledge of Portugal or the language. Though she is loath to admit it, she needs the Moonflower. Operating alone has taught her to respect her own limitations. But she knows better than to show weakness around the Moonflower—an agent with a reputation for brilliance, a tendency toward insubordination, and a history of going rogue.


Fans of the Pink Carnation series will not be disappointed in this final installment of the long running series. The Pink Carnation Jane’s story brings everything to a satisfying conclusion in true Lauren Willig style.

In the early nineteenth century, Napoleon’s quest to conquer all is progressing when French troops take control of Lisbon, Portugal. The royal family has fled the city for safety in Brazil, all except the mad matriarch Queen Mary who is believed to have been taken North by those planning a resistance. The Pink Carnation is expedited to Portugal to recover the queen but, not knowing Portuguese or the land, reluctantly admits that she needs the assistance of fellow British spy Jack Reid, otherwise known as the Moonflower. Things are off to a rough start as the pair butt heads and have different opinions as how to proceed. They follow the leads to find the matriarch before she can be whisked off by competing parties. There are, of course, some setbacks, including near discovery by The Guardian, rough weather and terrain, and bad intel. Jane hides that she knows Jack’s family even though they have implored her to ask him to come home. As their romantic tension builds, so does the danger.

In modern England, Eloise, a (former) doctoral student who discovered the Pink Carnation’s true identity during her research, is finally seeing her plans to marry Colin come to fruition. All of the estate is abuzz with last minute wedding preparations, when Colin’s aunt is kidnapped, and the pair must make an exchange to ensure her safe return. Unfortunately, Eloise and Colin do not know what the “box” is that the kidnapper wants. The reference to Scooby Doo during the confrontation scene with the kidnapper had me laughing out loud. I was worried for a few pages that the wedding would not happen after all.

The Lure of the Moonflower was an engaging read. Jane finally gets her turn at true love, and even though she is strong without a love interest, I believe that Jack is indeed a worthy match. They each carry their own hurts and baggage of life, and I can completely understand their initial resistance to trust each other. Jane is a woman after all and Jack does have a tendency to change sides when it suits him. Their back and forth banter provided pages of entertainment, and their building attraction was palpable. I love that the donkey was their “chaperone”. There were plenty of tense and dangerous moments, complete with disguises, to keep me on the edge of my seat until the end. Most all of the characters that have been part of the previous books make appearances here, though some are only mentioned in passing, and I thought this added to the familial sense of finality for the story. The Guardian’s appearance added a layer of intrigue, and I am pleased that he got what was coming to him.

As always, the mingling of the past and present is seamless, and they are well tied together. All of the modern respective family members make their appearances, too, and I am so glad to see Eloise and Colin get their happy ending. I could see a spin-off series happening…wishful thinking on my part, perhaps?

The Lure of the Moonflower is a gratifying finale to this wonderful series, and I will miss the characters. At least there is always the option to reread the books. I recommend this to fans of the Pink Carnation series and those who enjoy Regency espionage and romance.