Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine: A Novel by Lauren Willig

In The Temptation of the Night Jasmine: A Novel, Robert, The Duke of Dovedale, returns to England after being in India for a number of years. He soon becomes reacquainted with his distant cousin, Charlotte. It seems that there's an immediate attraction, but Robert has returned to avenge the murder of his mentor and doesn't need any distractions. Meanwhile, Charlotte stumbles upon a plan to being harm to the King and embarks on a little spying adventure of her own. The two run into each other a number of times and seem destined to be together if only these other endeavours would get out of their way.

I absolutely loved this book. This story of historical fiction transports the reader back in time with words and customs of the times. In addition to being filled with intrigue and tidbits about espionage, it's also funny, touching, romantic and charming. I can't vouch for its historical authenticity, but I can say it's a beautifully written story with lively characters. While there is some romance in the story, it's not gushy or bodice-ripping.

This book is the fifth in the Pink Carnation series, but it's definitely a standalone book. I haven't read any of the others and would not have known it was part of a series had I not been told.

The story jumps between 1800s and present day, with the majority of the story taking place in the past. To be honest, there was a couple of times where I was so wrapped up in the historical story that I completely forgot about the present day one. It felt a bit jolting to return. The present day story was just ok. I found it a little hard to believe that Eloise couldn't ask Colin about his occupation.

I loved all of the characters, especially Robert, Charlotte and Henrietta. The men in the Hellfire Club (the men's club that Robert had to infiltrate) and their actions were a bit much at times, but they were interesting to read about.

My favourite quote comes from Robert:
There is far more dust and dung than there are knights in shining armor left in the world.

New Word Alert: The book contained lots of words that I didn't know. I'm guessing quite a few of them are words from the period. Here's a sampling:
abnegation (page 207) - to give up or renounce something
alacrity (page 30) - promptness
ducal (page 36) - belonging to or relating to, or like a duke or dukedom
duenna (page 97) - woman guardian
embrasures (page 312) - tapered opening
mummers (page 50) - actor
oubliette (page 132) - dungeon with a trapdoor at the top as its only egress
pelisse (page 340) - military garment or woman's coat trimmed with fur
peregrinations (page 355) - journey or voyage
priapic (page 163) - relating to or showing a preoccupation with mail sexual activity

The Reader's Guide at the back of this edition offers the reader some insight into the book, the series and the history behind the story. It's well worth the read.

Highly recommended. I'd definitely read another book by this author. She's now one of my favourite authors. I hope to track some of the earlier books in the series.

If you liked this book, you will probably also enjoy The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson (my review.)

For more information about this book, please visit the Penguin website.

For more information about the author, her other books and other cool stuff, please visit Lauren Willig's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Penguin Canada for this review copy.

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine: A Novel by Lauren Willig, New American Library (Penguin), ©2009. ISBN 9780451228987(Trade Paperback), 468p.

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