Pink Carnation Recap: MISTLETOE

It’s time for the RITA-winning, root vegetable-starring, Christmas pudding-centric Mischief of the Mistletoe!

Who: Arabella Dempsey and Turnip Fitzhugh
Where: England
When: Christmas, 1803
What: When a mysterious Christmas pudding with a message shows up at an all girls’ school in Bath, neither Arabella nor Turnip have any idea that it will lead them on the path to adventure—and romance.
Historical Cameos: Jane Austen

Honestly, I’m never sure where to place this book. In my files, it’s the only Pink book to be listed without a number. It’s simply Pink Christmas.

In terms of publication, this should be Pink VII, since it came out in between The Betrayal of the Blood Lily (Pink VI) and The Orchid Affair (Pink VIII).

On the other hand, chronologically, Mistletoe fits in between The Seduction of the Crimson Rose and The Temptation of the Night Jasmine, so, for those who are reading the series from scratch, I generally recommend reading this between Crimson Rose and Night Jasmine.

It’s also the only Pink book that doesn’t include the modern Colin and Eloise frame story, which means that, for anyone wanting to read one of the Pinks as a one off, this one works better than any of the others as a stand alone.

In other words, rather like Turnip, The Mischief of the Mistletoe fits in everywhere and nowhere.

Fun facts about The Mischief of the Mistletoe:

— Like Crimson Rose, this was an accidental book. In the spring of 2009, I’d started writing The Orchid Affair— but I was feeling emotionally burned out after Blood Lily, which had been much darker than the earlier books. Orchid Affair was also shaping up to be a darker book. I needed something light and fun as a sort of sorbet between the two more intense installments. It was while I was giving a talk to a writers’ group in New York, talking about crafting a series arc, that it hit me: I needed to write Turnip’s book before I could move on to Orchid Affair.

— Turnip’s book was always going to be set in Bath, but when I first stumbled home from that writers’ group and started scribbling plot ideas, the original plan was to set it in June, around a smuggling ring based out of a tailor shop. But there was just something about Turnip and Christmas that went together like holly and ivy….

— The ending of The Mischief of the Mistletoe and the beginning of The Temptation of the Night Jasmine overlap. It’s the same house party seen from different viewpoints. So, if you read Night Jasmine and were wondering why Turnip was trying to chop down a tree with the wrong side of an ax… now you know.

— There are no love scenes in Mistletoe (making it acceptably PG for those who don’t approve of that sort of thing), but there’s an extra bonus add on chapter, Away in a Manger: A Very Turnip Wedding Night. For this, you have to thank Sarah of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. At RWA’s annual conference, when Mischief of the Mistletoe won the RITA for Best Regency, she made a bet with me: if her readers could come up with a suitable illustration, I had to write Turnip’s wedding night. You can find the result of both over on the Diversions page….

My favorite scene? The failed Christmas pageant at Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary. I had far too much fun writing that scene.

What’s your favorite scene from The Mischief of the Mistletoe?


  1. Jennifer on July 24, 2013 at 8:54 am

    I really liked the nighttime adventure in the Parlor with the girls “helping”. And the romantic meeting in Arabella’s room.

  2. Meredith A on July 24, 2013 at 9:40 am

    I ADORE this book and have read it so many times I’ve lost count. The Christmas pageant scene, the clandestine meeting in Arabella’s room…oh who am I kidding, EVERY scene is my favourite. And then there is Jane Austen making a guest appearance; could the book possibly get any better? Turnip: my hero. *Sigh!*

  3. Céline on July 24, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    I think my favorite is…. the whole book. I fell in love with Turnip when he caught Arabella at the firt meeting. I fell in love again when he spent the night in the garden looking after her… and during the secret meeting in Arabella’s room. And when he tried to ask for her hand in marriage only to be interrupted all the time…
    And then, there is Jane Austen… 🙂
    So, in conclusion, I’m in love with the whole book!

  4. Paige on July 24, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    This was the book that introduced me to the series. I was walking through the bookstore and saw this on a table…the beautiful cover caught my eye. When I read the jacket, being me, I needed to go grab the first book. I quickly realized that I had stumbled upon a treasure of a series.

    I have a difficult time with picking favorite scenes from the books, but I really enjoyed how the tree chopping/house party was shown from Turnip’s perspective.

  5. Yvette R on July 25, 2013 at 1:34 am

    This is my favorite Pink book! My favorite scene is the Christmas Pagent (the angel of the Lord’s halo becomes a discus!). But I have a fondness for the way Miss Climpson explains that people are not for sitting on! I don’t see how she has been able to keep her school’s reputation clean if she is so unworried by the music master sneaking into the building in the middle of the night.

  6. jeffrey on July 25, 2013 at 5:20 am

    This was the one that got it all started for me!

    My favorite scene was Turnip climbing the vines and sneaking into Arabella’s room. The physical closeness of our hero and heroine and your vivid description of those moments was just dripping with latent eroticism and desire.

    All the rewards and recognition were so well deserved. Everything about the book right down to the beauty of the cover was BRILLIANT.

  7. Betty S. on July 25, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Wonderful book from the beautiful cover to the Jane Austen cameo to the intrigue. I really loved the scene with Turnip and Arabella in Arabella’s room. I also liked the inclusion of so many characters from other books – like to see what they’re up to, especially Pinchingdale!

  8. Dara on July 29, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    I have two favorite parts. First, the house party from Turnip and Arabella’s perspective is just amazing and much more diverting than Charlotte’s romantic woes.

    But, I think my real favorite part is learning that Turnip is not just sartorially tragic while accidentally bumbling into important moments, but a lovely, unflappable soul who is using his unique talents to “do his bit for the cause”. I love that his role in the action of previous books was a deliberate request of Geoff.

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