Archive for the ‘Lure of the Moonflower’ Category


Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

For our third Pinkorama, Laura and Carrie present to us… Rossio Square: The Eagle Peeps Only Once, or, Love at First Peep.

It’s the final book of the Pink Carnation series, The Lure of the Moonflower. Or, to get us in scene, it’s Lisbon, 1807. The Portuguese royal family has fled to Brazil just moments before a French army, led by General Junot, trooped in to take over.

Here, in Rossio Square, the occupying French force is asserting its power over the local population.

Rossio Square

General Junot is basking in his victory, surrounded by assorted floozies. Note his distinctly snazzy uniform.

Rossio Square 2 General Junot and floozies

But, wait! That’s not a floozy. That’s our heroine, the Pink Carnation herself, cunningly disguised in a very exuberant hat and low peepoletage.

Rossio Square 3 Our Heroine

Our hero, however, does not know that… yet. He’s still waiting for someone to give him the code phrase: “The eagle peeps only once.”

Rossio Square 4 Our dashing hero

Don’t you love his Zorro-esque hat and cloak? This is a peep who knows how to blend with the crowd. Also who knows how to lean nonchalently against a pillar, which is a very good skill for both secret agents and romantic heroes.

Thank you, Carrie and Laura! I am just blown away by those peeptastic costumes. And who knew a Peep could have just that right look of world-weary disdain? (I’m talking about you, Jack Reid, aka the Peepflower.)

And now, just for context, here’s the text of the scene:

Lure of the Moonflower_deeper sky2The mood in the Rossio Square was nasty.

The agent known as the Moonflower blended into the crowd, just one anonymous man among many, just another sullen face beneath the brim of a hat pulled down low against the December rain. The crowd grumbled and shifted as the Portuguese royal standard made its slow descent from the pinnacle of Sao Jorge Castle, but the six thousand French soldiers massed in the square put an effective stop to louder expressions of discontent. In the windows of the tall houses that framed the square, the Moonflower could see curtains twitch, as hostile eyes looked down on the display put on by the conqueror.

The French claimed to come as liberators, but the liberated didn’t seem any too happy about it.

As the royal standard disappeared from view and the tricolore rose triumphant above the square, the Moonflower heard a woman sob, and a man mutter something rather uncomplimentary about his new French overlords.

The Moonflower might have stayed to listen—listening, after all, was his job—but he had another task today.

He was here to meet his new contact.

That was all he had been told. Proceed to Rossio Square and await further instructions. He would know his contact by the code phrase: “The eagle nests only once.”

Who in the hell came up with these lines?

Once, just once, he would appreciate a phrase that didn’t involve dogs barking at midnight or doves flying by day.

There was a cluster of French officers in the square, standing behind General Junot. They did go in for flashy uniforms, these imperial officers. Flashy uniforms and even flashier women. The richly dressed women hanging off the arms of the officers were earning dark stares from the members of the crowd, stares and mutterings.

Some were local girls, making up to the conqueror. Others were undoubtedly French imports, like the woman who stood to the far left of the huddled group, her dark hair a mass of bunched curls beneath the brim of a bonnet from which pale purple feathers molted with carefree abandon. Her clothes were all that was currently a la mode in Paris, her pelisse elaborately frogged, the fingers of her gloves crammed with rings.

A well-paid courtesan, at the top of her trade.

But there was something about her that caught Jack’s eye. It wasn’t the flashing rings. He’d seen far grander jewels in his time. No. It was the aura of stillness about her. She stood with an easy elegance of carriage at odds with all her frills and fripperies and it seemed that the nervous energy of the crowd eddied and ebbed around her without touching her in the slightest.

Her features had the classical elegance that was all the rage. High cheekbones. Porcelain pale skin, tinted delicately pink at the cheeks. Jack had been around enough to know that it wouldn’t take long for the ravages of her trade to begin to show. Those clear eyes would become shadowed; that pale skin be replaced with white lead and other cosmetics, in a desperate simulacrum of youth, a desperate attempt to catch and hold the affections of first one man and then another, until there was nothing left but the bottle—or the river.

Better, thought Jack grimly, to be a washerwoman or a fishwife, a tavern keeper or a maid. Those occupations might be hell on the hands, but the other was hell on the heart.

Not that it was any of his look-out.

The courtesan’s eyes met Jack’s across the crowd. Met and held. Ridiculous, of course. There was a square full of people between them, and he was just another rough rustic in a shapeless brown jacket.

But he could have sworn, for that moment, she was looking fully at him. Looking and sizing him up.

For what? He was hardly a likely protector for a French courtesan.

Go away, princess, Jack thought. There’s nothing here for you.

Or is there?

Congratulations, Pinkorama Winners!

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Because every Pinkorama this year was, without doubt, a winner, the dominant theme in the voting being, “But how? How can you make me choose?”

The Convent of Peepsino edged out slightly ahead (Miss Gwen preens and blows a speck of dust off the tip of her parasol), but it was such a close-run thing all around that I’m just declaring it a group win.

Take a bow, Kayse, Colleen, Candace, Cassandra, and Rachel!

For anyone who missed them and would like to admire sugary artistry in action you can find (in the order in which they were submitted:

The Convent of Peepsino by Kayse
Kayse 1

Amy and Richard’s Spy School Meets the Phantom Peep (plus video!) by Rachel

Rachel 3

Happily Peep After by Candace & Cassandra

C&C 6 couple 1

The Unpeepable Truth by Colleen

Colleen 1

by clicking on either the title or the picture.

So many thanks for these amazing productions! Kayse, Colleen, Candace, Cassandra, and Rachel, if you email me at and let me know whether you’d prefer The Forgotten Room or Fall of Poppies (or one of the other books), I’ll send your prize your way!

The winning judge is… Maria! (Of Comment #20.) Congrats, Maria! Email me and I’ll send your book your way.

And now a word about Pinkorama to come: although the Pink series has officially wrapped up (although there may be some offshoots), I would be thrilled to keep the annual Pinkorama the, well, the annual Pinkorama as long as you’re still willing to Pinkorama with me.

What do you think? Shall we make a date for Pinkorama 2017?

Pinkorama #3: Eloise & Colin, Happily Peep After…

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

It’s time for some Happily Peep After (Hapeeply Ever After?) in our third Pinkorama, by Candace and Cassandra!


If you haven’t read the later Pink books yet, stop here, or forever hold your Peeps. Or peace.

If you have read Pink XII, or don’t mind spoilers, or just like Peep dioramas, scroll on down!

Okay. We’re good now? Good. Let’s get going to the very last chapter of The Lure of the Moonflower and Eloise and Colin’s wedding at Selwick Hall, beautifully rendered in peep form by Candace and Cassandra.

Candace and Cassandra write:

It is Eloise and Colin’s wedding. The happy couple is surrounded by family and friends for the big day in Selwick Hall’s drawing room. Eloise has her floral bridemaids (Jillian, Serena, Pammy with cellphone, and Alex). Colin has his groomsmen in their grey morning coats. Then there is the groom’s family and the bride’s family.

The wedding party is gathered in the drawing room of Selwick Hall…. Check out that parquet floor and the portraits on the wall!

C&C 1 Overhead

Bridesmaids. I think Eloise was reasonably kind in picking their dresses, don’t you? Because this is an English wedding, there are, of course, snazzy hats. With flowers. (Also, is it just me or does Serena look a wee bit wobbly? I’d say she’s low on sugar, but she’s a Peep.)

C&C 2 Bridesmaids

Colin: supported by his groomsmen. (Figuratively.) Aren’t those flowers in their buttonholes adorable?

C&C 3 Groom Side

The family of the groom. Enough said.

C&C 4 Family of the Groom

The family of the bride, plus adorable flower girl. Mr. Kelly’s suit and tie look very Brooks Brothers– which is pretty impressive with candy.

C&C 5 Family of the Bride & Flowergirl

Last but not least… the bride and groom! Happy, happy, Eloise and Colin…. Just watch out for Pammy’s multiple cell phones.

C&C 6 couple 1

As always, Candace and Cassandra, I am in awe. I have no idea how you do what you do, other than that it’s high confectionary artistry. Thank you for making Eloise’s and Colin’s special day so sugary sweet!

Pinkorama #4 coming up tomorrow…. Or, possibly on Saturday, depending on author flakiness.

Reidiad Winners

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

The winners of the The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, and The Lure of the Moonflower are….

— Jennifer (of Comment #16).

— Steph (of Comment #34).

— Georgia (of Comment #48).

— Kathleen (of Comment #4).

Congrats, all! If you email me at, I’ll pop your Reids– I mean, books– in the mail to you.

More give aways coming up next Monday!

Monday Give Away: the Reidiad

Monday, October 12th, 2015

When I introduced Alex Reid, way back in Pink VI, The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, I initially had no idea that the Reid family would take over the Pink series.

Then Alex’s father popped up, around about Chapter Two of Blood Lily, and I knew, instantly, that there was the man for Miss Gwen.

And then, way at the end of the book, Jack Reid walked into the scene… and Jane’s future was sealed. (Although it was rather maddening not to be able to tell anyone, since Jane’s book was still many years in the future.)

So, for this Monday’s give away, I present the Reidiad, the three books in which the Reid family take over the stage: The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, and the final Pink book, The Lure of the Moonflower.

Blood Lily Paperback Plumeria Lure of the Moonflower_deeper sky2

Some day, perhaps, the Reidiad will stretch to five books, with one for Alex’s twin sister, Kat, and another for the irrepressible Lizzy. But, for now, it’s a collection of three.

The three Reids are very different sorts of heroes. Alex is hardworking and serious; Colonel Reid is a charming, carefree rogue (at least on the surface); and Jack is a cynical soldier of fortune. For a chance to win, here’s your question:

— Which of the three sounds most like your cup of tea?

I’ll be giving away four sets of the Reidiad this week. The winners will be announced on Thursday!

RT Book Reviews’ Seal of Excellence for MOONFLOWER

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

While I was off-line last week, this happened!


The Lure of the Moonflower won RT Book Reviews’ Seal of Excellence!

As they put it over there: “Each month the RT editors select one book that is not only compelling, but pushes the boundaries of genre fiction. This book stands out from all the others reviewed that month, in the magazine issue and on the website. August 2015’s RT Seal of Excellence — the editors’ pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Lauren Willig’s historical romance, The Lure of the Moonflower.”

In the midst of all the mess and muddle of moving, that absolutely made my week. The runners-up included two of my favorite authors, Lisa Kleypas and Jen Lancaster. It’s such an honor to be in their company. (And a little surreal.)

It’s been a wrench ending the Pink series– but if it’s ending, at least it’s ending with a bang! Thank you, RT Book Reviews!

Pink on NPR!

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

So many thanks to the folks at NPR (but especially reviewer extraordinaire, Bobbi Dumas) for this lovely farewell to the Pink Carnation series.

LW20 (4)

If you had told me, ten years ago, that the Pink books would be getting this kind of send-off on National Public Radio, I would have snorted coffee up my nose. Of course, if you’d told me then that there would be twelve Pink books, I would have snorted coffee, so, there you go….

Thank you!!


Monday, August 17th, 2015

So many apologies! What with one thing and another, I completely forgot to announce the Colin & Eloise Wedding Week contest winners this weekend.

First off, thank you to everyone for the wonderful gifts for Colin and Eloise! They are currently munching on the contents of their picnic hamper, tucked in among those woolly blankets, reading to start work at their new, matching desks.

The winners of the copies of The Lure of the Moonflower are…

— Ana F. of Comment #22

— Calli Fox of Comment #4

Congrats, Ana and Calli! Just email me at and let me know if you’d rather have a print copy or audio CDs.

Happy reading!

Colin & Eloise Wedding Week: the Honeymoon

Friday, August 14th, 2015

Now that we’ve made it through the Colin & Eloise wedding extravaganza, it’s time for… the honeymoon!

Where should our intrepid pair go?

Options included:

— Wales, for castles:


(Please ignore the author in the photo!)

— Scotland, for more castles– and sheep:


(Those are quite definitely sheep– and not the author.)

But those were both too close to home now that Eloise is on that side of the Pond.

Moving to sunnier climes, they could go to Greece:

DSC00135 DSC00231

They could explore old castles in Oman:

DSC00006 DSC00039 DSC00046

Or visit the races and see all the construction in Dubai:


They could go back to Eloise’s side of the world and look at Pre-Columbian ruins in Mexico:

Mexico 004 Mexico 011

Of course, there are always islands, like Mustique:


Or Grand Cayman:

Grand Cayman 046

Where do you think Colin and Eloise should go on their honeymoon? And will more drama overtake them wherever they go?

Psssst…. If you want to know where they do go, the answer is in The Lure of the Moonflower.

Colin & Eloise Wedding Week: the Bouquet

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

It seems strange to admit this after twelve books about flower-themed spies, but… I know very little about flowers.

So when it came time to design a bouquet for Eloise, I sought expert help from Clara Bauer of Clara’s Flowers. (Have I mentioned recently how endlessly impressed I am by all the talent within the Pink community?)

Clara very generously sent an entire garden of bouquets for Eloise, along with descriptions. Eloise, of course, is in an agony of indecision. Here are the options:

1. “A simple classic mix of cream Vendela roses, with mini callas, white cymbidium orchids, white ranunculus and some touches of peonies with their buds…”

Clara bouquet 1

2. “Lily of the valley, white peonies, cream roses and white freesia. The touches of green are the lily of the valley leaves, fresh from Selwick garden!”

Clara bouquet 2

3. “This one is all orchids. Notice in the background that the maids’ bouquets were lilies…stargazers.”
(Eloise’s sister Jillian heard “bridesmaids’ bouquets” and “stargazers” and started making pointing motions at this one.)

Clara bouquet 3

4. “One of my favorites with white tulips, freesia, cream roses, white peonies, ranunculus, hydrangea and white lilacs. Fragrant, fluffy and so bridal!”

Clara bouquet 4

5. “Gardenias and open garden roses (David Austen from England) with touches of bling.”
(At the word “bling”, Pammy’s ears just perked up.)

Clara bouquet 5

6. Last but not least, this lovely pink and cream bouquet:

Clara bouquet 6

Which would you choose for Eloise?

(If you need context, this is her dress. Her bridesmaids are in lime green chiffon.)