Eloise Kelly is searching for the identity of a spy, the Pink Carnation. She is a graduate student at Harvard writing her dissertation on the three spies of the early 1800s trying to thwart Napoleon. There is quite a bit of information on the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian, including their identities but no one seems to know who the Pink Carnation was. Eloise is giving a grant to go to London and find out. While in London, Eloise is fortunate enough to be giving access to letters and diaries passed down from the Purple Gentian. Much to the disdain of Colin Selwick, keeper of the archives and descendant of the Purple Gentian, his aunt takes a liking to Eloise. While reading the letters and diaries, Eloise finds out who the Pink Carnation is.
Amy Balcourt was born in France but at a young age moved to England with her mother. Her father and brother stayed behind, and her father was hanged. Amy vowed when she was old enough she would return to France and join the league of the Scarlet Pimpernel and avenge her father. But before she could, the Scarlet Pimpernel was unmasked and had to retire. This brought the Purple Gentian into action and Amy decided to join him. Eventually, Amy was sent for by her brother to return to France. Along with her cousin Jane and chaperone Miss Gwen, they made their way back to France. On the way, they had to share a boat with Lord Richard Selwick aka the Purple Gentian. No one knew that Richard was the spy, but Amy was drawn to him even though she believes him to be a traitor. What happens next is a great adventure, romance and mistaken identities.
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation starts in the present and then goes to the past. It switches back and forth throughout. I enjoyed this book tremendously. I have been recommending it like crazy since I finished reading it. It is also the first book of a series. Eloise is back along with the spies! The next books are The Masque of the Black Tulip, The Deception of the Emerald Ring, and the newest one The Seduction of the Crimson Rose.