The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig (2005)
American grad student Eloise Kelly travels to England to conduct research for her dissertation (and to get over a cheating boyfriend). She’s fascinated by the spies (with flowery aliases) who saved England during the Napoleonic era and is trying to solve one of history’s greatest mysteries: the identity of the Pink Carnation.
Most of the story takes place in the early 1800s. Amy Balcourt travels to France to join the League of the Purple Gentian. She wants to avenge her parents’ deaths and dreams up schemes to defeat Napoleon. Lord Richard Selwick – aka the Purple Gentian – isn’t quite prepared for Amy (nor does he reveal his secret identity). Several English citizens work to stop Napoleon’s nefarious plot to invade England – the Pink Carnation among them – but you’ll have to read the book to discover the spy’s identity! The author’s debut, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, is the first in a series.
I think Meg Cabot describes it best: “This genre-bending read—a dash of chick-lit with a historical twist—has it all: romance, mystery, and adventure.”