Colonel William Reid has just arrived in England from India to discover that his daughter, one of Agnes's classmates, is also missing. One of William's sons has been involved in the opium trade, and unbeknownst to him has also been spying for the French. Which girl was the target? When Miss Gwen and Col. Reid go out to find the girls, she discovers that a man who appears to be a born rogue may be just what she needs.
I love the banter between Miss Gwen and Col. Reid in this book. It ranks with The Seduction of the Crimson Rose for the best banter in the series. It's also always impressive how Lauren Willig can show new sides of characters that we already know when they get a book from their point of view. The books up to now have only shown Miss Gwen as the younger generation understand her; getting inside her own head and also seeing her as a man roughly her own age (or a bit older) does gives us the chance to see her through fresh eyes while still remaining true to the character that we love.
I didn't enjoy the modern bits quite as much in this one. I'm not somebody who routinely dislikes them, but there's a find-the-treasure plot struck me as slightly ridiculous. Furthermore, it didn't seem to me that anything actually developed in Eloise and Colin's relationship this time around. By the end of the previous book, it was established that they'd be going long distance while Eloise returned to America to teach. In this book, Eloise angsted a lot about the fact that she was going to be returning to America to teach and they had a conversation near the end about the fact that they'd just have to go long distance for a while. Also apparently Eloise is willing to give up her own flat and move in with Colin, which is itself an indication of seriousness because it means she's wiling to count enough on their not breaking up to risk being out of a place to live if they do, yet still insists that she isn't sure how serious their relationship really is. The framing device doesn't offend me in itself but Eloise just bothered me in this book.
The bulk of the book is irresistible although weakened by the modern plot.
Overall Grade: B