Crimson Rose Book Club: Mary or Letty?

Hi, all!

Welcome to our inaugural meeting of Crimson Rose Book Club. I’m going to loosely (and I mean very loosely) play moderator, but, for the most part, the floor is yours. Please, please feel free to take the discussion in whatever direction you want it to go.

To kick us off, here are two questions from the Readers Guide to Crimson Rose— I’m throwing them in together because they seemed to me to be interrelated.

Was it disorienting viewing the other characters, especially Letty, from Mary’s point of view?

With whom did you empathize more, Mary or Letty? Why?


  1. Camille la Flamme on January 6, 2009 at 1:16 am

    Yay first commenter! I think.

    So if I’m first pitch, I’d like to say that I emphasize with Mary. I personally tended to see, say, Letty, the way Mary does: fussy and a little TOO virtuous. And Geoffrey is, for all his amibility, a bit boring.


  2. Katelin on January 6, 2009 at 1:21 am

    I didn’t find it particularly disorienting viewing the characters from Mary’s perspective. I actually found it quite interesting and informative. It is one thing to hear about a character in a first person narrative or by those who like them; it is quite another however, to see them through the eyes of someone who sees them as their rival. Mary being on the outside looking in provided a clearer picture of what it might actually be like to meet Letty, Geoff, Henrietta, or Miles.
    However, I do admit to continuing to feel partial to Letty. This is slightly biased on my part. I have had a far more equal experience to Letty growing up than to Mary. I grew up as a little sister although I had an older brother rather than an older sister like Mary. And similarly I was also never the belle of the ball quite like Mary.
    Despite the differences of experience between Mary and myself I found her a surprisingly sympathetic character. I often found myself feeling quite badly for Mary she is really doing the best she knows how with the hand she’s been dealt. Seeing things from Mary’s perspective it is not so easy to dismiss and demonize her as it once was.

  3. Tina-Marie on January 6, 2009 at 1:42 am

    I think a reader’s reaction to Mary would depend on whether or not they had read the previous book. I read all four books in the series within about four weeks, so Letty and Geoffrey’s love story was still fresh in my mind when I read the Crimson Rose. In the previous book Mary was almost a villain. Well not quite, but she was certainly a cold, calculating drama queen, and not a very likable character. I wasn’t expecting her to be the heroine of the next story. So,yes, it was disorienting to read from her perspective. I also found the Crimson Rose a darker book than the previous three. The romantic couple is more flawed, more jaded. There is more of an awareness of evil within themselves. However, the book is written in such a way as to awaken the reader’s empathy for Mary and cultivate a little dislike for the homely, fussy Letty. And as always it turns out to be a very satisfying romantic adventure.

  4. Elissa on January 6, 2009 at 2:07 am

    I didn’t find it terribly disorienting to read from Mary’s perspective. I did find it rather hard to empathize with her character at first, though. I came in with some what of basis against Mary from the first three books and it lasted till probably halfway through Crimson Rose. That being said i found her one of the easier characters to understand. Her motives and ambitions are clear from the beginning, even if they do change throughout the book. What she does at the end of the book (to not give away the ending) seems completely in-character and fits with her rationalities. She goes from being a very flat character in the other books to being very dynamic and by the end even I was rooting for her.

    I still empathize more with Letty. Because even though i am the oldest child in my family, I am still fussy, overbearing, and act all virtuous. I’m simply more like Letty than i am Mary. But it is nice to see the other side of the story. Maybe my younger sister feels like Mary does, which would explain the consent eye-rolling i get from her.

  5. Alexandria on January 6, 2009 at 2:38 am

    I really like that you get to see the characters from an “outsider’s” perspective, Mary is not friends with Henrietta, Miles, Richard, and Amy. She doesn’t run in the same circle as them. However, I do kinda feel her opinion of the girls is a little off, because she feels like she is better than them. She can’t see their winning qualities. Maybe, she does, but her jealousy gets in the way. I like Mary to a certain extent, but sometimes I have a hard time liking her, she is def. not my fav. character in the series. I feel like she is an outsider just like Vaughn. Kind of a side character that just keeps popping up. I am glad crimson rose was written, because even though they are the on again off again villian they def. have a story and a past to be told. They are perfect for each other. I think they bring out the softer side in each other.

  6. Cait on January 6, 2009 at 4:39 am

    It was a little weird to see what Mary thought of all the other characters, especially because to a certain extent the first three heroines are rather similar. Mary is the only one not forced into a relationship (that’s not quite the right wording, but hopefully you know what I mean). I’m not really a fan of Mary persay, simply because I am more like Letty myself, but she was much more likeable when you could read her own thought process.

    I suppose I empathize more with Letty, it seems that she had a harder going of it. Mary lost a potential husband sure, but she wasn’t over the moon about him to begin with – I got the feeling that if it had been any one other than Letty discovered with Geoff it wouldn’t have matter quite so much. Letty was pushed into this marriage to a man who at first despised her. And before that I think she was much like Charlotte, in the sense that she was often overshadowed – though that’s a pretty terrible comparison.

  7. Suzanne on January 6, 2009 at 8:33 am

    I read this book before I read Deception of the Emerald ring. I have a certain fondness for Lord Vaughn and Mary. She makes a lot of mistakes and is selfish, leaving Letty struggling to keep their home in one piece which I don’t like, but I do like her wit and determination.

  8. Courtney on January 6, 2009 at 10:10 am

    I found it helpful to look at the cast of characters through Mary’s eyes–Jane in particular. We’ve been told how unobtrusive she is, but the casual way Mary kept dismissing her from her thoughts really cemented that portrayal for me. Especially when you consider that Mary is shrewd enough to be a match for Vaughn. That Jane could manage not to provoke even a hint of notice in such a person is a testament to her ability to blend in.

    Still, I’m not nearly as fond of Mary as I am of Letty. I’m sympathetic to the way she must have felt after being jilted, and I was glad that she and Vaughn proved to be so well suited, but Mary is far too self-centered to be entirely likeable. Letty, on the other hand, is always thinking of others. It may be a little smothering to some, but it’s always done with the best of intentions.

  9. Lauren on January 6, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    What do you think would have happened if Mary had wound up marrying Geoff as planned?

  10. Ariana on January 6, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Well if Mary would’ve married Geof, I bet she would feel a bit lonely. Geoff is a very noble person, clears the path for others, like he did a bit with Richard. Clearly Mary would feel alone in a marriage with him, as she thinks she has to make things happen for herself instead of waiting to see if they do.
    I believe that she would end up some terrible old matchmaker lady, criticizing everyone. At first she would be all very proud of the marriage and rubbing it in Letty’s face, I think that eventually Geoff would realize he chose the wrong sister, Letty would make him see that, with her kindness.

  11. Jessica on January 6, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    I felt sorry for Letty when Geoff ran off on their wedding night. I think they were a perfect match for one another and in the end Mary found her “Prince Charmng” in Lord Vaughn. I too was surprised that Mary was the next heroine and that I actually ended up liking her. I always liked Vaughn and I think knowing a character more intimately-their insecurities, etc. involves the reader more with every book and I think it helps those of us who read the books in order anyway to see the various points of view. That’s why I like series. The characters live a more full life that way. I still like the first three heroines much better than Mary did. I shudder to think what would have happened if it had been Letty in that carriage instead of Mary. Mary would’ve eaten dull Geoff alive, so to speak. And poor Letty would’ve continued to be her parents’ drudge, pining away for Geoff who would’ve been miserable. Or… perhaps Letty and Lord Vaughn would’ve gotten together …

  12. Lauren on January 6, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Jessica, the prospect of Letty and Lord Vaughn made me laugh out loud over my computer screen! Can you just imagine? All his double edged quips would have been entirely blunted against her matter of fact approach to life. He would have been driven to distraction!

  13. Jessica S on January 6, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    I thought it was interesting to see these characters we know so well through Mary’s eyes. Especially the opening chapters at Sibley Court, when we see conversations misunderstood by Mary (between Amy and Henrietta and Letty).

    I still sympathize more with Letty because I often feel like she does: too frizzy, too plump, too not-right. I have never been perfect like Mary…although I don’t have a perfect older sister, which is nice.

    And if Mary had married Geoff as planned, they would have both been miserable.

  14. Tricia on January 6, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    I can not even begin to explain the face I made at the thought of Lord Vaughn and Letty…married! That would be quite the comedy:) On the other hand though I could still she Mary and Geoff getting married though, don’t get me wrong I love that Letty snagged herself a good man, but couldn’t you just see Geoff as the doting little husband. Almost jack russell terrier-ish jumping up and down and running around Mary’s feet? Hanging on her every word with Mary just rolling her eyes in annoyance…Letty is sort of the hero in a sense, saving Geoff from that life and giving him the love and devotion he deserves from his wife. Just a thought:)

  15. AmyMc on January 6, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    I didn’t find it disorienting to read from Mary’s perspective, but it was very different.

    Mary’s way of thinking is very foreign to the way I try to live my life, and I don’t normally spend time with people who are so self-centered, so it was interesting to experience “life” as someone who IS motivated in that way. There is a brutal honesty about her because she doesn’t try to delude herself as to the reason for her actions(much.) I don’t find her an intrinsically likable character, like Letty, but she’s a compelling one. Still, I am more inclined to be sympathetic to (and thus read the story for) Vaughn, more-so than Mary. Maybe because he “softens” more as a character, where she is less repentant, for lack of a better word. Does anyone else find this to be the case?

  16. Lauren on January 6, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Tricia, I wonder how long it would have taken him to get disillusioned or to pick up on the fact that something wasn’t quite right? Being Geoff, I could see him finding ways to blame himself. I wonder how long he would have been content just to worship for worship’s sake without expecting much back in return? It’s an interesting exercise in counterfactual narrative– the what *could* have happened rather than what did.

  17. Lauren on January 6, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Amy Mc, I have to admit, as I was writing it, I was more interested in Vaughn as a character than in Mary (hmm, should I be admitting that?), perhaps partially because he had time to grow on me– like mold– through the two previous books and so I was fascinated by what made him tick the way he did.

    *But that raises a really interesting broader question– when you read, do you generally read the story for the hero, or for the heroine? Or does it depend on the individual character?*

    I ask, because I’ve seen articles in the past making broad claims in both directions, some arguing that women read for the hero, putting themselves in place of the heroine; others asserting that it’s the other way around, that we read more for the heroine’s journey, rather than out of fascination with the hero. I have my quibbles with the arguments in both directions, but I’m curious to hear what you think.

  18. Jess G. on January 6, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    I think that I read books like this for a mixture of the two. I read more for the reaction each has to the other. I love the heroine wondering what the heroes intentions and feelings are. And the hero musing over how wonderful the heroine is, only to have to hit himself over the head to refocus on whatever he’s supposed to be doing.

    Meanwhile, I think that if Geoff and Mary had been married, they would have eventually become one of those couples that has very little to do with each other. They would have had nothing to talk about, and eventually the physically aspects of their relationship would have worn away.

    I don’t find it disorienting to see characters from the other characters’ point of views. I actually quite like it. It makes me giggle.
    If I were in a position such as Mary, I’m sure I would have been more on her side. The only value given to her is for her appearance and she’s not generally viewed as the marrying type.
    However, I’m much more in Letty’s shoes. Throughout most of Emerald Ring, she frets about Geoff hating her, has pretty low self esteem, considers herself second rate to her beauty of a sister, and assuming other people’s feelings without having proof.
    I’m definitely much more like that.

  19. Haley on January 6, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    I loved reading from the two perspectives. What family dynamic isn’t more than it seems on the surface? After Mary’s rather unflattering portrayal it was interesting to see the tables turned. As I first started into Crimson Rose I was firmly on “Team Letty”. As the book progressed I quickly felt compassion for Mary. She was publicly humiliated, broke, and without any viable options to support herself. The best she could hope for was a good marriage. Mary was between a rock and a hard place. Her methods didn’t win friends but she only a few years in which to make the best marriage match possible.

  20. Elissa on January 6, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    First off, I can’t imagine Letty with Vaughn. That would be a match made in Hades for both of them.

    I think it depends on the characters. With your books i read for the heroine but not Amy or Letty. I read for Eloise. I relate to her as a fellow historian and as some going through the trials and tribulations of having to do research and write papers. Although i still tend to read for the heroine when it comes to Amy, Henrietta and Letty.

    But with Crimson Rose, I read for Vaughn. Although, I think I read for Miles for probably half of Black Tulip. With other book series it entirely depends on the characters. I totally read for Harry Potter in that series.

  21. AmyMc on January 6, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    That’s an interesting question, Lauren. I don’t really read romance novels all that much – you are the only author whose works I own in their entirety, and I’ll keep buying as long as you keep writing, so please don’t stop – and I read yours because of the wit and intelligence with which you write. (Not meant to be shameless sucking-up, but a statement of fact, but if it earns me brownie points… 0;D ) In regard to your books, I read Pinks I, II, and III for the heroines, and Pink VI for the hero, so it definitely depends on the individual character for me. Oh, and I LOVE Eloise in all of them. Can’t wait for more framework story in Pink V! (Colin’s cute too, though.)

  22. Alexandria on January 6, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    I def. think that if Mary and Geoff had of gotten together they would have both been miserable. Poor Geoff, I cringe to think what would have became of him. I think out of the two he would have suffered the most, dont get me wrong Mary would have eventually got bored with him and his doting, and poetry. He would eventually realize that Mary is not Aphrodite reincarnated, but a mere mortal like the rest of us. 🙂 I think that the only reason in Crimson Rose that he does not discover the real Mary Alsworthy is because, of his guilt about the whole I ditched you for your sister thing. He feels that she was sincere about their relationship, (instead of seeing he meant nothing but a title to her). I feel like the only reason Mary really cared that Geoff did not marry her is because, her pride was hurt. Mary would not be happy with anyone except Vaughn. He understands her perfectly, and accepts her. They are two sides of the same coin. Even if she had of married a prince, she would not be satisfied in the long run.

  23. Tricia on January 6, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    I would hope that Geoff wouldn’t let his misery go on for too long, but sadly I think that he is too kind hearted and hard on himself.

    Perhaps Mary would take pitty on Geoff after some time and try to put forth some wifely effort…Or…I could see Mary in more of a selfpreservation mode, retreating to one of the other homes that Geoff’s family owned.

  24. Julie on January 6, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Wow, Letty and Vaughn. Vaughn would have never allowed that to happen, he would have wormed his way out of that situation. I admit that i was more interested in what Vaughn was going to do next then Mary. I was also extremely excited to find out what happened with Eloise and Colin. Eloise is always my favorite. It was really good they worked out some of their problems. I am crossing my fingers that nothing bad happens with them.

    I read more for the characters that interest me the most, but i usually end up loving them all anyways. Its really interesting to view the other characters through Mary’s eyes. She puts such an edge to the personalities.

    I think i empathize more with Mary. Letty is great and everything but Mary is more often a victim, not that she needs anyones help or anything. Mary is constantly being judged, was publicly humiliated, her mother makes her feel like crap, she has to see Letty and Geoff all lovey-dovey all the time, and she can’t do anything to help herself except get married. No one except Vaughn even takes the time to get to know her any better, and he was kind of forced against his will to do that. I think Mary has a lot more potential and is not as vile as people thinks she is.

  25. Kristen on January 6, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Personally, I loved Mary. I have more a “smart mouth” and I love to get the last word in, so I really did emphasize with her more than I did with Letty.

    I agree with what Lauren said about Geoff wanting something back from Mary for all the worship that he gave her. He would have been happy for a time but one day he would have woken up and wondered how his life had ended up as it had.

    As for how I read a book, like Elissa said, it depends on the book. Though I do have to admit that sometimes I read the book for the villain (ie- I read Emerald Ring more for Vaughn than for Geoff or Letty, but I read Crimson Rose for both Vaughn and Mary- I loved their conversations.)

  26. AmyMc on January 6, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    I can understand why Vaughn would be fascinated with Letty, though, because she is so different from Anne. I think it would be more of a character study for him, though. Letty would never understand the darkness in him the way Mary does. And Letty is much too earnest. As Kristen and others have pointed out, Mary’s intelligence is overshadowed by her beauty, but even the feisty Hen was unable to keep up with all the double and triple-entendres in which Vaughn spoke. Only Mary has been his match that way.

  27. Jilli on January 6, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    I actually disliked Mary more when I read her assessment of Letty, Hen, Amy, and Jane. She spoke as a mean popular girl. Yes, she might have been jealous, but Letty spent her childhood growing up faster than she had to simply because Mary would rather indulge her beauty. Even if she was making the best of the hand she was dealt, she was selfish and rude. Letty’s the one who looked after Mary and made sure that she had what she needed in life without bankrupting the family. Yes, Letty accidentally ran off with Geoff, but that’s no reason to look down on her and her friends simply because they’re friendly and caring.

    As someone who A) has to suffer from a ‘cute’ sister (though younger than I) and B) had to put up with taking care of said sister thereby growing up a bit quicker, I definitely see Letty’s side of the issue. For the nice sister to find a man who sees her outer beauty because her inner beauty shines through is much happier than a jealous pretty girl being happy in the end.

  28. Morgan on January 6, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    I didn’t find it disorienting, I just had to know starting out that Mary’s feelings towards all the characters that have been the heroes/heroines so far would be negative. I myself empathized with Letty more from what I knew about her from Emerald Ring, and saw Mary’s comments about her in Crimson Rose as typical Mary – self-centered and put-upon. So it didn’t effect how I felt about Letty. With that being said, although I didn’t agree with Mary’s thoughts on the other characters, I did like her character and the pairing with Vaughn, and seeing how she softened during the story.

  29. Diane on January 7, 2009 at 12:09 am

    I have to agree that these questions are very good and very thought-provoking.

    I spent all of Pink III thinking that Letty was doing what she had to because the oldest child (Mary) was too self-absorbed to think of the family as a whole. Letty was the one who took care of everyone and, ultimately, made the sacrifice of a “loveless” marriage. She was responsible and steadfast… everything Mary was not.

    In Pink IV, I found out why Mary was the way she is… it’s just her nature. She was catered to as a child because of her beauty; she was being groomed to marry well so she could take care of the family. Mary was the object of jealousy from so many of her “friends” that she found it impossible to trust anyone, hence her cynical thoughts on marriage. She was going to marry Geoffrey knowing that she didn’t love him and probably never would. It took Vaughn and his cynical, jaded feelings on women in general to give her the challenge needed to bring her interest and desires to the forefront.

    In Pink III, I empathized with Letty because, even though she didn’t intend to trap Geoffrey, she wanted to try to have a good marriage because he was someone she could admire and, possibly, come to love over time.

    In Pink IV, I empathized with Mary because, even though she was bitter and resentful in the beginning, she started becoming more cognizant of other people’s feelings, which then brought her closer to being human rather than the marriage robot she seemed from way back in Pink II. It took love to develop Mary into the mature woman who could love a man of Lord Vaughn’s calibre.

  30. Elizabeth on January 7, 2009 at 12:14 am

    I completely agree with Jilli. While reading Emerald Ring, I skipped over Geoff’s inner dialog about Mary because everything he said and praised was about her looks. Coming from a girl who isn’t technically beautiful, very much so like Letty, I didn’t want to read about how a guy was in love with another beautiful girl.

    Of course, I think I’m slightly biased. I read Emerald Ring and just had my heart strings pulled at because out of all the women in this series, I connected to Letty the most. To hear Geoff say that he loved all Letty’s imperfections, it made me very happy and it’s something girls like me don’t hear every day.

    Mary loved Geoff for his title and her and Geoff weren’t perfect for one another. Mary and Vaugh however? They are *very* perfect for one another.
    So I’m *totally* team Letty 🙂

  31. Diane on January 7, 2009 at 12:30 am

    I couldn’t see Geoff and Mary together, even when he was writing poems to her and trying to make it rhyme. Geoff was too “behind the scenes” and Mary definitely needed someone who was as “in your face” as she was. Lord Vaughn was the best possible choice.

    I didn’t like Lord Vaughn up until Pink IV because I still wasn’t sure he wasn’t involved with the Black Tulip. If, in fact, he wasn’t the Black Tulip. Then, he did grow on me because we were allowed to know his background and what made him the way he was.

    Lauren, I love all of your books. I have all of them in hardback and I am planning on picking up the newest one as close to January 22 as possible. I can’t wait to read more about Eloise and Colin, which is the icing on the cake in my estimation. I love this time period and that is why I picked up the first book. But your writing and all of the characters is what had me buying Pinks II, III, and IV. Please keep writing. I can’t wait to see what character you deem worthy of Jane. But that would be the end, so, I guess that can wait awhile. 🙂

  32. Courtney P. on January 7, 2009 at 1:24 am

    Well first of all, I empathize with Mary a lot in pinkVI. Letty unintentionally ruined her, made her a laughing stock by running off with Geoff. I can only imagine the pain of seeing your younger sister and a man you loved so happy. I am happy though Mary didn’t marry Geoff, I think her and Vaughn balance each other….and make me laugh!

    However, like Diane I did empathize with Letty more in the pink III Letty was the one who seemed compared herself in many ways to Mary before she got married. This made me feel sorry for her. But they seemed to be a better fit as a couple.

    Who I read for depends on the character; each character has their own trials, fears and dreams. If I can relate even a little bit too any char. it interests me more. For example I can put myself in some of these women’s shoes from Amy to Eloise. It makes them seem so life like, which gets me more drawn into the story

  33. Kristen on January 7, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Wow, Jilli, I can tell you have strong feelings on this. But I don’t see Mary as a mean popular girl. For one, she does not have any friends that she can be snippy with about others. In fact, Letty is more popular than Mary is, I mean she does actually have friends. Those ladies may act kind towards Mary, but Lauren’s left us with no doubt that they don’t really care for her. Mary may be admired more by men, but in a society with restricted contact between men and women, she would have found herself alone a pretty fair amount of the time. That gave her plenty of time to plot and plan.

    I will give you that she is not the warm hearted individual that Letty is, but she is not as terrible as you have her painted to be. In Mary’s mind, she didn’t need Letty to set things up for her; she could do that for herself. She didn’t see Letty’s actions as being selfless. She saw them as being interfering.

    Perhaps it’s because I am the prettier of my sister and me (I don’t mean to sound conceited, but it’s just something we both acknowledge and ignore), and the fact that my sister really does believe that she was put on this earth to be my second mother that I really appreciate Mary more than Letty. To me she is more complicated and thus more interesting. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like Letty, I do. I just have this love for characters who aren’t 100% good or evil. For me personally, Letty is just too good.

  34. Mara on January 7, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I like Mary, and liked that, as someone else commented, the story was a little darker and the hero and heroine a little more jaded. I know that with historical fiction, we hope that the “history” part is realistic and more-or-less accurate, and the “romance” part–not so much. But, truth is, most of us come into relationships with a few scars and a little bit of baggage, and the fact that the story reflected that made it all the more compelling for me.

  35. Alyson on January 7, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    When I started Pink IV, I was more towards Letty, but I could understand Mary’s views. I did end up liking her, just not as much as the others. But I did enjoy reading her snide comments about everyone else. I only read her book when I got it but continue to reread the other books because I can relate to the heriones so much more. I enjoyed Vaughn more than Mary because he wasn’t as petty and jealous as her. Mary and Geoff’s marriage definitely would not have worked. She would have thought him to be a fool and Geoff would have saw her to be the real person she was. I think he would have then seen that Letty really was his match and fell in love with his sister-in-law. Vaughn is the only man that could handle Mary. I was just happy when they finally admitted to loving each other, and despite me not lking Mary as much as the others, I wanted them to have their happy ending as well.

  36. Diana on January 7, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    A day late, but I hope that doesn’t matter. I find that I read the stories not for the individual, but for the interactions between the hero and heroine. I find the misunderstandings between the two and the way they overanalyze the situations to be both maddening and humorous. Also, I liked reading the Crimson Rose although I must admit I was quite skeptical at first. Seeing the others from a different perspective made them deeper in one sense. And who knew that Mary and Vaughn could become likeable characters?

  37. Diane on January 8, 2009 at 7:48 am

    I have to say that, regarding Mary and Vaughn, even though Vaughn was attracted to Mary first because of how she looked – or who she looked like – he fell in love with her for her quickness in her wit, making life with her certainly not dull. I love that about this couple. He had certainly seen and had more beautiful women in his life, but it was her personality that won him in the end.

  38. Jessica on January 8, 2009 at 9:32 am

    I don’t know if we can truly understand the desperation Mary must have felt to get married. As women of today, we have so many more options than marriage to have the neccessities we need. I think of Mary kind of like I think of Scarlett O’Hara. She is beautiful and spoiled, and really has no friends, but she is resourceful and she does what she has to do to survive, even if that means doing something that is not PC or socially correct

  39. Liz on January 8, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I feel that a lot of the responses about Mary and Geoff don’t take into account Mary’s true personality. I agree that Geoff would have been miserable in such a marriage, but before she met Vaughn Mary would have settled for anyone, which she admits herself. I can’t say that the Pinchingdale jewels wouldn’t have kept her content until the end of her days. I think you see enough of her in Crimson Rose to see that should would have married for the money and the title. She’s stubborn and she knows what she wants, look at how she clings to Vaughn when he’s hurt even without the prospect of marriage. There is a lot to be said for tenacity. As for Vaughn and Letty, I can’t help but feel that Anne Standish, shrewd though she was was a worse wife then Letty could ahve been. She might not have the quick comebacks or the looks but she is steadfast and honest, much more than can be said for the first Lady Vaughn. In the end the difference between Letty and Mary is the difference between all people, not to say that they are strictly archetypes but you inevitably love the good guy or the bad guy, even if there is a lot of gray area like there is with both of them. Mary is not totally bad nor is Letty always perfect. In the end the appeal of Mary and Vaughn is overwehlming for me, what can I say some of us are just bad to the bone.

  40. Kati on January 8, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    I read Crimson Rose simply because it was a logical continuation of the series for me. I’d been looking forward to it for a while; I have to admit, I always thought Mary got the short end of the stick from Letty and Geoff. So naturally I was thrilled when she got to tell her story. I identify very much with Mary’s cynical attitude and outright applaud her sarcasm at times, especially in her dialogue with Vaughn. Their dialogue is tit-for-tat snark, and I love every second of it. “Watching” Mary and Vaughn interact is rather reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, only someone (that’s you, Ms. Willig) threw in deadly French operatives. The fact that they can be totally honest with each other about their motives and goals is very refreshing after the espionage and double dealing between heroes and heroines in all three of the previous books.

  41. Desiree on January 8, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    I read Mary’s story first (gift) and I was very sympathetic for her. Then I read all of them in order and my opinion changed fast. In the books Mary is not a very nice person partly because she chooses to be that way. She makes little comments that come across as rude, belittling and self centered. Letty is way to virtuous but at the same she was given many responsibilities that she should not have had to had. She spent her time taking care of the little money and employees they had while Mary tried to make herself prettier or available to the available titled men of the Ton.

  42. Catherine on January 9, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    I did not find it at all disorienting viewing other characters through Mary’s point of view. Quite the contrary. I agree with the previous comments that it helps flesh out the characters, seeing them from all angles and through different eyes. Kind of like looking at a gem under a light, you turn it every which way to fully appreciate each facet. It only adds to your appreciation and full comprehension.

    The character of Mary, to me, seemed to mature and evolve through the progress of the story of Crimson Rose. For example, her feelings of appreciation for Letty when she returns from Vaughn’s house and Letty restrains herself from lecturing her. This prompts a spontaneous rush of (albeit unspoken) feeling from Mary shows her growth along these lines. It’s seems all too understandable that Mary’s age & lack of life experience early on lead her view life in a very two dimensional manner – as if she could sum everyone up and put them neatly into categories. But experience is a great teacher as Mary learns throughout her story. Just beautiful character development – I adored this book.

    As which sister I felt more empathy for, that’s a tough one. I enjoyed both of these characters. But it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges. It’s a testament to the level of skill Ms. Willig has as a writer that enables us to empathize with two such completely different characters!

    One of my favorite qualities about Letty is her earnestness, which is incredibly endearing. And one of the things I loved about Mary is her ability of recognizing her…not sure what the right word for this is, but for lack of a better I’ll go with “darker” side. It’s brutal honesty and total realness was brilliant! And yet, she has enough redeeming qualities that she’s not cast as evil or completely remorseless. Just very, very human and the perfect soul mate to the jaded and complex Vaughn.

    Kudos to Ms. Willig for another brilliant novel!

  43. Anne K on January 11, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Mary’s story in Pink IV is the first in which the heroine is not entirely in Jane’s confidence and in Jane’s camp. This makes Mary, while not as palatable to our expectation of a vitruous heroine, more interesting because she’s not committed to “the cause” the way the other girls are. She’s in the shadows for both her indifference to other people’s happiness and the espionage aspect of the stories. I’m hoping that she’ll show up, even just a little, in Pink V; she’d be such a great foil to dreaming, tenderhearted Charlotte.

    FYI, from what we know so far of Charlotte, I associate myself with her archetype, rather than Letty of Mary.

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