The Elusive Pimpernel is either the third or the fourth book in the series (I did some research, and I’ve gotten both answers). Citizen Chauvelin is back, and boy is he pissed. His star has fallen because of the Pimpernel, and he will have his revenge. He travels to England, supposedly as an ambassador, but mostly to trick Sir Percy to go to France, so that the Pimpernel can be captured and killed.
Chauvelin brings a young French actress with him, and uses her to draw in Marguerite Blakeney; Marguerite sympathizes with her fellow actress, and invites her to the Blakeney home at Richmond to entertain the Prince of Wales. Juliette de Marny, from I Will Repay, is staying with the Blakeneys, as Chauvelin well knows. He gives the actress a necklace that used to belong to Juliette’s mother, to provoke a confrontation. He succeeds, and Sir Percy agrees to a duel – which means they have to go to France, because dueling is illegal in England.
In the first book Marguerite Blakeney is described as intelligent, but she seems to keep getting herself into scrapes. For instance – Marguerite is so worried about Percy going to France, that she follows him on a forged passport. That she got from the French actress. Yeah, that’ll work out fine. So of course she gets arrested, and confined in Bolougne. Chauvelin has a brilliant plan – he wants the Pimpernel to humiliate himself and lose his honor to save his wife’s life. If he helps her escape, then the breadwinner of every house in Bolougne will be killed. Like that’s going to stop our Pimpernel. Chauvelin is outwitted once again, and the Pimpernel eludes him. Oh, he also saves some nice innocent people too.
The story once again follows the Pimpernelian formula, so it’s a good idea not to read them all in a row. But, it’s a nice light read, especially when the news out there in the world is often not so happy.