The last time we saw Jane Wooliston, aka The Pink Carnation, was in Pink X, aka The Passion of the Plumeria, as she declared her intention to go deep undercover– alone.
That was back in the spring of 1805. Pink XII, aka The Lure of the Moonflower, opens in December of 1807. That’s a pretty big gap.
Where oh where has the Pink Carnation been all this time? And why can’t Eloise find any trace of those two years in the archives?
All we know is that Miss Gwen, as of autumn 1806, is receiving letters from Jane from an undisclosed location. (That information having been redacted at the request of the Pink Carnation.)
As many of you know, originally, the plan was for there to be a novella out right before The Lure of the Moonflower, called “The Pink Carnation in Love”. (The novella was to be set in Venice, so the title was a nod to Casanova.)
But I got a bit behind deadline. And a bit more behind deadline. And that novella didn’t quite happen. By which I mean, it didn’t happen at all.
What can I tell you? Jane has traveled under many aliases and had many adventures since we saw her last– and it hasn’t always been easy. She’s missed Miss Gwen and her family more than she ever imagined she would, and no matter how many times she tells herself that the cause is noble and her reasons good, there have been times when those rationales have proved cold comfort.
But the biggest challenge by far? Having to join forces with the Gardener in Venice in the summer of 1807 to track down a killer indiscriminately targeting both English and French agents. As a sworn enemy, Nicolas de la Tour d’Argent is somewhat problematic. He refuses to act like an enemy. Instead he prefers to flirt. As an enemy, he’s problematic. As an ally? He’s incredibly dangerous.
I have a confession to make. This story? Goes much farther back than the plans for the Novella That Wasn’t. I’ve been wanting to write a Jane and the Gardener story since The Temptation of the Night Jasmine.
Originally, the plan was for it to be an entire book. Among my notes recently, I found this snippet, labeled “for Book VIII”:
“What a Jeanne d’Arc you would make.”
“Mad and martyred? No, thank you all the same.”
“Never swear by absolutes, my Jeanne. They have a way of betraying one.”
“Only if you betray them first. I have few virtues, but constancy is one of them.”
“Constancy… or cowardice?”
She didn’t like that. He saw her spine stiffen.
Given where I found it, I’m guessing that this fragment is circa 2008, and my vague plan was to have Jane and the Gardener’s book follow The Mischief of the Mistletoe. Jane and the Gardener were going to have to join forces to thwart a serial killer targeting agents from both countries.
As you can tell, that didn’t happen.
Instead, Pink VIII was my governess book, The Orchid Affair, and my Jane and the Gardener story got shelved for a later date. Some of that material was filtered into The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, the book in which Jane meets the Gardener for the first time, although we see their interactions there only through Miss Gwen’s viewpoint.
(And this lost chapter, in Jane’s viewpoint.)
Long story short? Jane and the Gardener do have their adventure in Venice, and it has a powerful impact on Jane. While I wish I could have shared it with you as a novella, you will still hear about that time in Venice– but through Jane’s recollections, in The Lure of the Moonflower.
Only one week more to go!