The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig. That's what I'm reading. It's the sequel to The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. I know. The titles alone are thoroughly delightful. Even more so when you get into the story and discover that the author's tongue is firmly in her cheek. The second book is no disappointment on that count. Willig's style flows easily whether she's writing the present-day, first-person story of Eloise - the historian researching these floral mysteries - or the third-person, 1803 characters of London and Napoleonic France.
First off, this is a part of history I dig. Not quite as much as I dig the French Revolution itself, but close. It's a fascinating segment of history, IMO. Willig takes the story of The Scarlet Pimpernel and moves beyond it to his student-cum-replacement the Purple Gentian, and then later the Pink Carnation. Okay, enough of the premise. These are romantic historic adventures with a healthy dose of modernity. I nearly sqwaked like one when the 1803 heroine of Black Tulip barked out "Albatross!" Willig made it fit perfectly sensibly into the scene while leaving no question as to just who and what the author was referring to. Hilarious!
I do like this heroine, Lady Henrietta, rather more than I like the heroine, Amy de Balcourt, in the first one. Amy has her charms, but she's a bit of a twit, IMO. Hen, on the other hand, I can relate to. She's sensible and logical while still falling prey to her emotions. You know, like normal people do. At least, the normal people I tend to know. Amy's great on the page, but like Grace Adler, I would have to beat her with a stick if she were real. Hen and her hero, Miles, are normal people in extraordinary circumstances. I like that. I'm looking forward to reading The Deception of the Emerald Ring.
And through it all, Eloise, who is living her own first-person life while researching the Pink Carnation, et al. Again, my type of heroine. The woman's a dork, and I love her for it. Go, Eloise!