Review: The Temptation of the Night Jasmine (Pink Carnation #5) by Lauren Willig

The exotic scent of night blooming jasmine fills the pages of Lauren Willig’s latest Pink Carnation series installment, The Temptation of the Night Jasmine.

Robert, the entailed Duke of Dovedale, has  returned to England after being abroad in India for 12 years. Though it’s not his nostalgia that draws him home….it’s revenge.

There is one debutant that threatens to derail Robert’s revenge….his distant, twice removed ‘cousin’ Charlotte. Charlotte is the granddaughter of the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale–think Maggie Smith from Downton Abbey :).

The Duchess rules her family and relations with an iron fist–a duchess to the core. She is strong, ruthless, and stubborn to a fault….Charlotte on the other hand is innocent and bookish, a far cry from her ancestors. Her whole life has been spent in a fairy tale world. Her reality has been filled with tales of courtly love and romance found in her favorite novels.

Charlotte has carried a torch for Robert since childhood and when he returns…the trumpts blow and her knight and shining armor dismounts his white horse burlesquely to plan a kiss on the fair maiden’s hand as she tosses him her handkerchief…or so the scene goes in her mind LOL :).

In reality, Robert approaches Charlotte with trepidation. He remembers her as the girl who he use to go ‘unicorn’ hunting with as a child….now she’s all grown up but still totally devoted to him. Robert is acutely aware of his own flaws….being abroad has changed him. He feels like a rusty, tin knight instead of the chivalrous hero Charlotte sees.

Robert must remember his mission…to find the man responsible for killing his friend and mentor. He is doing a fine job (or so he thinks) executing the plan–he has infiltrated a secret society (The Hellfire Club) where his nemesis is a member–things are going as planned when Charlotte gets in the way in more ways than one–she loves Robert without question and she intends to have her knight, shiny armor or no.

Though Robert loves her and has always loved her–he feels trapped and scared. So what does a weary rusty knight do–he runs like hell!

He easily falls into her ‘traps’ and before he knows it–he is completely in love with her. But fearing his plans for revenge will put Charlotte in more danger, Robert pushes Charlotte away–hurting her beyond redemption.

But when someone kidnaps the King of England though…all bets are off. Charlotte and Robert must put aside the hurt feelings and bitterness and work together to catch the kidnappers and save the King.

This book had all the things that should have made it really unique and a satisfactory read….an exotic secret society, opium induces orgies, the glamorous mystique of India, kidnapped royalty, and the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale’s granddaughter as the heroine. However, this book didn’t read as well as the others in the series.

I didn’t feel that the beginning of the book meshed well with the ending. For a good chunk of the book, Charlotte was so young and innocent it was almost too much of a stretch for me to believe that she could undergo such a huge transformation.

When Charlotte finally embraced her inner ‘duchess ‘ she held nothing back! She was just as ruthless, unforgiving, and stubborn as the Duchess herself! I felt like she was almost a little too hard on Robert…it was believable and justifiable but it went on for much too long.

I also was a little tired of Robert too…out of all the other male heros in the series, I just couldn’t identify or relate to Robert at all. He has nothing to recommend himself, nothing to really make him memorable….he wasn’t dashing like Richard, or funny like Miles, not to the point like Geoffrey, or quirky like Turnip, and definitely not sexy like Vaughn….he was just….there.

Every Pink Carnation story is more or less the same but what keeps them all from being repetitive is their characters. Based on that I didn’t find the characters in this book as strong or memorable as the others. The book was still a charming read and it is an intricate installment to the overall series….but just not as engaging as the others.

I did like the exotic Indian flavor of this book though. In the late Regency era, India captured the minds and imaginations of the British and I have to say….I love the idea of a far away land full of mysterious creatures and culture. Needless to say, I am looking forward to the next book in the series since it is actually set in India!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig

  • Paperback, 464 pages
  • Published January 5th 2010 by NAL Trade (first published January 21st 2009)
  • ISBN 0451228987 (ISBN13: 9780451228987)

This book counts toward the: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

Recommendation: 3 out of 5 (ok but not as good as the first 4 in the series)

Genre: Historic fiction, Regency fiction, chick-lit, romance

Memorable lines/quotes:

I like books. They’re so much grander than real life (39)

Sometimes having an overactive imagination could be a distinct liability. The day dreams were lovely but it was always so disappointing when they turned out to have no relation to reality (105)

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