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Barbara Kingsolver
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Warren Ellis, Paul Duffield
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The Secret History of the Pink Carnation - Lauren Willig This is a very high 3 stars, but I can't quite justify giving it 4 stars.

The Pros
The espionage provided a light fun adventure. I liked that it struck a balance between a hardcore thriller espionage and fluffy romance that made it enjoyable to read without being unbelievable. The side characters were varied and added a fun dynamic to the story.

The Meh
Secret History is a story within a story. The frame story is that of Eloise, a Harvard grad student writing her dissertation on spies in the Napoleonic era. Long story short she finds a chest of old documents that lead her to uncover the secrets of the Pink Carnation through the diaries of Amy Balcourt and Lord Richard Selwick. Amy and Richard are 90% of the story.

I am interested in where Eloise's story goes and I understand that Eloise's story continues through the series with each book focuses on a different relationship in the historic espionage rings as she uncovers their stories and forms her own relationships so I think her story will become more exciting. For this book, however, she didn't really add anything for me - I could have done without her.

The Cons
Richard was 27, went abroad to Egypt with Napoleon at 22, and generally seems to have his shit together. But when it comes to Amy he's a complete idiot, not to mention he whines at his mother like a 10-year old. I felt like I was constantly rolling my eyes at him.

Amy was, I believe, in her younger 20s. She was exceptionally naive, she's so bent on joining the League of the Purple Gentian that she doesn't think about being cautious or ensuring she has the right information before acting. She irritated me.

The romance in this book is definitely geared towards adult readers, but the attitude of the main characters reminded me of angst-ridden teen romances.

I think I've made the book sound worse than it is (though now you'll know why I'm struggling to give it that extra star). It wasn't at all bad. I enjoyed the story and I'm definitely reading further in this series, but I'm hoping the characters get a little more... mature.