Lauren Willig gave us a little surprise this year - not just one new Pink book but TWO. The Betrayal of the Blood Lily debuted last January, and The Orchid Affair will drop on January 20, 2011, but Lauren has provided The Mischief of the Mistletoe, a little Christmastime spy mystery featuring the seemingly brainless Turnip Fitzhugh and new heroine Arabella Dempsey (if you'd like a peek at a Selwick Christmas check out Lauren's website for Ivy and Intrigue: A Very Selwick Christmas). Arabella has recently arrived in Bath due to the rather hasty marriage of her middle-aged-plus (and rich) aunt/guardian to a much younger (and non-rich) man (who had apparently been courting Arabella, too). Arabella is determined to make her own way as a teacher at a ladies' seminary in Bath but fate, in the guise of Turnip and a Christmas pudding, have other plans.
Lauren's books are a breath of fresh air for me. Nice and fun. Happy endings. Just what I needed this December since I'm about to pull my hair out with this whole selling-my-house mess that's going on. Turnip Fitzhugh gets a chance to be the hero for once, instead of the fop, although he's still Turnip (and always will be), and Arabella makes a nice heroine in the Letty sense (Letty's my favorite Willig heroine). Several characters from other Pink books make cameos - Mischief is set starting between Seduction of the Crimson Rose and Temptation of the Night Jasmine and ends with the Twelfth Night festivities at Girdings from Night Jasmine - so we meet up with the Vaughns, Pinchingdales, various characters' little sisters, Hen, Charlotte, the Dowager Duchess of Dovedale, and that pack of aristocratic idiots from Night Jasmine and Blood Lily who all ought to be in jail.
Oh, and there's Jane Austen, too. Jane is Arabella's cousin (?, or maybe just dear friend) and she appears in all her sharp-witted glory. Jane appears to be collecting characters and stories...what could she be doing with them, I wonder?