Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
Source: Personal Collection
Alice Verney is a young woman intent on achieving her dreams. Having left Restoration England in the midst of a messy scandal, she has been living in Louis XIV’s Baroque, mannered France for two years. Now she is returning home to England and anxious to re-establish herself quickly. First, she will regain her former position as a maid of honor to Charles II’s queen. Then she will marry the most celebrated duke of the Restoration, putting herself in a position to attain power she’s only dreamed of. As a duchess, Alice will be able to make or break her friends and enemies at will.
But all is not as it seems in the rowdy, merry court of Charles II. Since the Restoration, old political alliances have frayed, and there are whispers that the king is moving to divorce his barren queen, who some wouldn’t mind seeing dead. But Alice, loyal only to a select few, is devoted to the queen, and so sets out to discover who might be making sinister plans, and if her own father is one of them. When a member of the royal family dies unexpectedly, and poison is suspected, the stakes are raised. Alice steps up her efforts to find out who is and isn’t true to the queen, learns of shocking betrayals throughout court, and meets a man that she may be falling in love with—and who will spoil all of her plans. With the suspected arrival of a known poison-maker, the atmosphere in the court electrifies, and suddenly the safety of the king himself seems uncertain. Secret plots are at play, and war is on the horizon—but will it be with the Dutch or the French? And has King Charles himself betrayed his country for greed?
Koen creates an amazing world and cast of characters who inhabit this world. She easily mixes real historical characters (Charles II, Queen Catherine, Duke of Balmoral etc) with characters of her imagination (Alice, Richard, etc) and even mixes a little of the real with imagination (Renee). I absolutely loved the character of Alice and she kept the story moving with many twists and turns – you are never really sure what she will do next!
I read this book quite a while ago – it was one of my early historical fiction reads. I must confess – I didn’t realize that the king in this book was Charles II while I was reading it. I am pretty sure I didn’t even know about Charles at that point – I think I would have enjoyed it even more had I read it recently (after reading The Merry Monarch’s Wife by Jean Plaidy).
Koen creates a vivid world and great characters that you can care about. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the antics of the court of Charles II or enjoys a great historical romance. I now have acquired her sequel (written before Dark Angels) Through a Glass Darkly and its sequel, Now Face to Face and am very excited to read both of them.
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