this is the second book of the trilogy, the first book is "the pink carnation". you'll enjoy and understand this second book if you read the first book. the third book is entitled "the deception of the emerald ring" which i look forward to reading. lauren willig has given her main character eloise, a modern graduate student a great sense of humor,human feelings and romance with another main character. the story is fun to read,the settings flip between victorian england with mystery and modern day england. you'll enjoy reading all the books.
The Black Tulip picks up immediatly where The History of the Pink Carnation leaves off. Eloise (in trying to gather research for her dissertation) has just discovered the true identity of the Pink Carnation. It's what's she's been looking for, but there's a catch. The keeper of the archives that she's searching through when she discovered the indentity belongs to Colin Selwick (descendent character from the 1st book).
He invites (relunctantly) Eloise to his home to finish her research. At the end of Carnation, Eloise discovers who the Pink Carnation is, but also finds out about the Black Tulip, a deadly instrument of the French. So, Eloise delves into her research at Colin's home, this time following the story of Richard's (from Carnation) sister Henrietta and his best friend (and wannabe spy) Miles.
Henrietta wants to by a spy and Miles is sent on a mission. The two do not realize that they are after the samething. Throughout the story sparks fly between the pair as they try to solve the mystery of the identity of the Black Tulip. This also coincides with Eloise's own life and her growing attraction to Colin.
It's a great read, even better than Carnation. If you are looking at starting with this book...don't. Read The Secret History of the Pink Carnation first. It sets up this book and if you read this book first, it takes the fun out of finding who the Pink Carnation is in the 1st. If possible, I would have the 3rd book ready (The Deception of the Emerald Ring) because this book is another 'to be continued...' like the Carnation.
I enjoyed the book for the historical fiction aspect of it. She could drop the "chic lit" stuff, and concentrate on the rest for a better read, IMO.
The Masque of the Black Tulip brings us once again into the modern day life of Eloise the grad student and Colin the Selwick descendent. And of course the past lives of Richard, Jane, Miles, Amy and Henrietta. Slipping into the pages of this book was like putting on a comfortable pair of shoes. You knew where you were, picking up precisely where you left off. But oh the places you will go.
We see more flirtations between Eloise and Colin, as you might in any good chic lit. But it remains mostly light, sarcastic and fun. They have a witty commentary all the while Eloise is flipping through Colins family papers. And oh what we learn in those family papers this time.
Miles is tired of being the side kick, its not that he doesnt love his fried Richard (The Purple Gentian), he does of course. But now that Richard has been unmasked Miles would like to find his own way to help the kingdom. The problem for Miles is he happens to be very big, very broad, and very blonde. He doesnt move with the same graceful ease as a general spy, rather he looms. And once in a place is somewhat like a bull in a china shop. But never mind he has charm! I positively love Miles; he is witty, charming and just hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud (and getting some looks) on more pages than I can count.
Miles is eventually given the job by the War Office of finding the Black Tulip, a very dangerous French spy. You really will enjoy following Miles and Henrietta as they see about catching the Black Tulip. Because Henrietta doesnt see why Richard should have all the fun. Why should her brother be the only spy in the family? Along the way somehow the pair (separately) realisethey are in love. But the key iswill they tell one another? If you enjoy history, and a bit of fun you will love the Mask of the Black Tulip. This is one you cant miss
This was a great follow-up to the Pink Carnation! I love the romance, sense of history and mystery. Lauren Willig is one of my new favorite authors.