Summary from GoodReads:
Arabella Dempsey’s dear friend Jane Austen warned her against teaching. But Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies seems the perfect place for Arabella to claim her independence while keeping an eye on her younger sisters nearby. Just before Christmas, she accepts a position at the quiet girls’ school in Bath, expecting to face nothing more exciting than conducting the annual Christmas recital. She hardly imagines coming face to face with French aristocrats and international spies…
Reginald “Turnip” Fitzhugh—often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation—has blundered into danger before. But when he blunders into Miss Arabella Dempsey, it never occurs to him that she might be trouble. When Turnip and Arabella stumble upon a beautifully wrapped Christmas pudding with a cryptic message written in French, “Meet me at Farley Castle”, the unlikely vehicle for intrigue launches the pair on a Yuletide adventure that ranges from the Austens’ modest drawing room to the awe-inspiring estate of the Dukes of Dovedale, where the Dowager Duchess is hosting the most anticipated event of the year: an elaborate 12-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? And is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella and Turnip’s hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding?
I picked this book up when I saw a review for it on another blog (Bunbury in the Stacks). The main reason I picked it up was because JANE AUSTEN is a character! Of course, she isn’t a main character, but I couldn’t pass this up. I can’t say this is a favorite book of mine, but it was a cute, holiday book and I am glad I read it.
This book is part of the Pink Carnation series, and although I hadn’t read any of the series, I wasn’t confused starting with book seven. I think they are more companion novels. Anyway, I get the feeling that Turnip is a character that is in the other Pink Carnation books, and that fans of this series were begging for his story. I really liked Turnip, however, I am not sure I found him as charming as I was supposed to. But that might be because I haven’t read any other books with Turnip in them. I think the best way to describe Turnip is bumbling. He knows he is good looking (he isn’t being a jerk about it) and thinks that since he was blessed with good looks he is okay with not being the brightest apple in the barrel. It’s cute, the way he says it. Well, he doesn’t actually speak it out loud, but he thinks it. It’s pretty adorable the way Turnip thinks.
I also liked Arabella. She is determined not to be a burden on her family. She finds employment teaching at a girls school. after her aunt (Arabella was her companion) marries. Her friend, JANE AUSTEN!, isn’t so sure this is the best decision, but Jane supports Arabella. At this school, Arabella meets Turnip. They quite literally bump into each other. During their meeting they discover a message in a Christmas pudding, and start their own investigation. There’s some espionage going on. And guess what, the Scarlet Pimpernel is mentioned! I love the Scarlet Pimpernel. It isn’t at all important to the story, but it definitely put a smile on my face!
Arabella and Turnip develop feelings for each other, but of course, things don’t run smooth. Although I could see how Arabella (practical and intelligent) and Turnip (bumbling, but nice) would make a decent couple, I can’t 100% say I believed them as a couple. I hope that makes sense. I liked them together, and I wanted them to be together. But you know when you read a book and you just KNOW that these two characters belong together? I didn’t get that feeling here. I still really liked the romance, though.
The secondary characters are well developed. I really liked Turnip’s younger sister, Sally. She is quite a character, and I really got a kick out of her antics. The scenes with Sally were some of my favorites.
Anyway, I really liked this book. It isn’t an all-time favorite, but it is a lot of fun. I have already read the first book in the Pink Carnation series, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. Expect a review soon 🙂 If you are looking for something light, with romance, a bit of a mystery and well-developed characters, don’t miss out on this one.