The French eventually unmasked the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian, famed spies in the Napoleonic wars, but as Harvard graduate student Eloise Kelly discovers at the start of this breezy historical romance, the identity of the Pink Carnation remains a mystery. Working in London on her history dissertation, Eloise gets access to a trunk of papers and documents from the early 19th century. She dives into this treasure trove, and suddenly the reader is plunged into a novel within a novel, told from the viewpoint of Amy Balcourt. Amy, exiled to rural England with her mother, now wants to avenge, with the help of her cousin Jane, her father’s death at the hands of the French. She hopes to be in league with the Scarlet Pimpernel, who heroically tried to save her father. Willig, a Harvard graduate student herself, does a good job painting a picture of the tumultuous era. She also makes the sparks fly between Amy and the Purple Gentian, a dashing English nobleman in charge of Egyptian antiquities for Bonaparte. But when the Pink Carnation’s identity is finally revealed after many obvious clues, the reader wonders why it took Eloise so long to get it. More critically, Eloise’s appearances come to seem like awkward intrusions into Amy’s – and the Pink Carnation’s – more intriguing story.