Review: Ivy and Intrigue (A Very Selwick Christmas) by Lauren Willig

After finishing the latest installment of Lauren Willig’s flowery spy series (The Pink Carnation series), I couldn’t resist eking out a little more frivolous adventure by reading this short story/novella: Ivy and Intrigue (A Very Selwick Christmas).

Since this is more of a short story, my review will not be as lengthy. I found the novella available for free online through Willig’s website, however I found that reading 100 or so pages on my computer was not ideal so I splurged and spent $0.99 to get it on my iPad through Amazon :).

Amy Balcourt has just married the dashing, Lord Richard Selwick (AKA, the flowery spy better known as the Purple Gentian) and they are celebrating their first Christmas together at Selwick Hall with the entire Selwick family–including one very unwelcome house guest–Lord Richard’s first love Deidre.

While Amy despises Deidre on principal, she is surprised to find that Deidre is not all together as upsetting as her cousin Jane….Amy is feeling the growing pains of her marriage. While Jane is off playing caped crusader all over France, Amy is left in stuffy old Sussex with her new husband–not exactly the glamorous life that Amy imagined.

Richard is also feeling a shadow of regret, not because of Amy–but a life style lost. First Deidre shows up bringing up all the old ‘feelings’ that were once so important to him, then he suddenly realizes he has cut Amy’s dream of living in France short by unmasking himself as the Purple Gentian. That coupled with his recent retirement from spying….Richard finds himself suffering from post nuptial anxiety!

In an effort to help relieve the tension at home, Richard thinks giving Amy some ‘space’ to live the dreams she couldn’t before marrying him…..so Richard offers what amounts to a separate  living situation with Amy in France and Richard in England–if Amy wants it. Richard desperately hopes Amy will refuse because he can’t imagine a life without her in it….but loving her as he does, he also wants her to be happy.

In the mean time, Jane is still in hot pursuit of French operatives on the Continent and throughout England….and looking for new recruits. Jane realizes she needs help with her organization and asks Amy if she can recommend anyone in particular. With Richard’s offer of a ‘break’ still fresh in her mind, Amy considers taking Jane up on her offer to return to France and the world of international espionage….

What I liked about this novella was that it gave the readers a little hint of reality and insight into the marriage of Richard and Amy. In reality, there are times when you can’t help but be sad about the life that never was….dreams that you didn’t get to fulfill….missed opportunities etc. But at the same time, what are you getting in exchange when you marry your ‘soul mate’ like Amy and Richard did? You get a life shared….a new life, new opportunities, new dreams….together.

I liked that the short story addressed this issue with the readers and I also like how the stage is now set for another great full length book in the series. Though I am not a huge short story fan, this one was exciting and will tide me over until I get the next book in the series 🙂 .

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Ivy and Intrigue (A Very Selwick Christmas) by Lauren Willig

  • Kindle Edition
  • Published July 24th 2011 (first published December 24th 2008)
  • ASIN B005EH6MHO

This book counts toward: NA

Recommendation: 4 out of 5 (a larkish novella to tide you over until the next full book in the series!)

Genre: Historic fiction, Regency fiction, chick-lit, romance, short story, novella

Memorable lines/quotes: NA

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