by Jen Geigle Johnson
The roads in and out of Paris are heavily guarded, but the dead have easy passage out of the city. A ragged old woman transports the coffins of the most recent victims of the guillotine and is waved on unimpeded. Later, the same crone watches five French aristocrats step out of their coffins unscathed. Not beheaded but spirited away to safety by that most elusive of spies: the Pimpernel. Or, as she’s known in polite society, Lady Scarlet Cavendish.
When not assuming her secret identity as a hero of the French Revolution, Scarlet presents herself as a fashionable, featherbrained young widow flitting about London. In truth, this façade is merely a diversion designed to conceal her clandestine work in France. Among members of the doomed French aristocracy, the Pimpernel is renowned for her bravery and cunning. But when tasked with rescuing handsome Comte Matteo Durand, she faces an unprecedented challenge: she is falling in love with the man. If ever there were a time to keep her head, it is now— because in a world brimming with intrigue, she is not the only one harboring secrets. And if Scarlet doesn’t take care, Madame la Guillotine may finally catch up with the Pimpernel.
“Jen handled her adaptation beautifully, she makes the history of this tumultuous era come alive. Those familiar with The fictional world of The Pimpernel will appreciate her salute to the original and lovers of history will applaud how she makes the French Revolution personal, and intimate.
“She has a beautiful grasp on our innate desire for freedom and infuses that into her story. The plot is heart rending and suspenseful. The romance is toe tingling and the characters are so realistic, for the first time in my life, I felt emotionally connected to Marie Antoinette. With a strong female character you can root for this is one of my new favorite Pimpernel adaptations.”
“I think you look handsome.”
“Well, that is something, but coming from a woman in your current attire, I hesitate to lay much weight to your approval.” His eyebrow quirked as his gaze searched her from toe to headdress. A chuckle escaped. “What can you mean by dressing us in such a manner?”
His incredulity gave her pause to question. She had pushed the ridiculous to its upper limits, hoping their decoy would further dispel any possible suspicion of her involvement in serious rescue attempts from France. And by involving Matteo, perhaps convince a few suspicious minds of his new allegiance to wealth, pleasure, and fashion. “I have a reputation to uphold, my dear.”
“Am I to now share in your love of fashion extremes?” He gestured to the embroidery on his sleeves.
“For France, darling. If we appear thus, we set ourselves as the supreme leaders in fashion. And besides the prince himself, everyone will turn to us.” All true, naturally, but an equally important great disguise and sleight of hand were at play as well.
“And you feel that men of substance, men I would care to influence, will have any respect for me at all? I am wearing purple breeches. Could I not simply wear my usual tan or black?”
Author Jen Geigle Johnson
Jen Geigle Johnson once greeted an ancient turtle under the water by grabbing her fin. Other vital things to know: the sound a water-ski makes on glassy water and how to fall down steep moguls with grace. No mountain is too steep for her to climb, yet. During a study break date in college, she sat on top of a jeep’s roll bars up in the mountains and fell in love. She discovered her passion for England while kayaking on the Thames near London as a young teenager.
Now an award-winning author and mother of six, she loves to share bits of history that might otherwise be forgotten. Whether in Regency England, the French Revolution, or Colonial America, her romance novels are much like life is supposed to be: full of adventure. She is a member of the RWA, the SCBWI, and LDStorymakers. She is also the chair of the Lonestar.Ink writing conference.
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