I was almost embarrassed to tell people the title of this book (like my boss, who asked what I was reading.....um, yeah, wasn't about to actually tell him the title!) and until about five seconds ago, I didn't even realize what the title meant. Let's just say the "Crimson Rose" doesn't have anything to do with romance and that it has a lot more to do with the reasoning behind the Black Tulip's endeavours.
First of all, Crimson Rose is the fourth book in a series about the French Revolution and a band of spies--and yes, the flower theme dominates the book. You need to read them in order or else you will be hopelessly confused.
This one follows Mary Alsworthy and Lord Vaughn--significant characters in book three (and Vaughn was in book two). Mary agrees to be bait for the Black Tulip, one of France's nastiest (and deadliest) spies.
This book took a different flavor than the past ones. It wasn't as funny, because Mary and Vaughn aren't funny. Both are a bit bitter, cynical and perfect for each other. I wasn't so sure of the pairing when I read the cover copy, but Willig makes it work. Both are realistic and yet the ending is satisfying. ****Spoiler (highlight to read): Was it bad that I hoped Anne would die? Oh well, I did. And I was glad when she did die. I mean, the hero and heroine have to be able to get married, after all!
So I'm gushing a bit but Willig is such a great writer--she definitely has a strong, distinctive voice. I highly recommend her books! I'm probably going to re-read this one within the month.
And on a completely different note, she makes a reference to Cold Comfort Farm and Reuben and farm boys! I was thrilled...after all, I only read that book on Willig's suggestion.