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Friday, September 18, 2009

Book Review: Dark Angels by Karleen Koen

Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
Book 1 in Tamworth Saga series
Paperback, 544 pages
May 29, 2007
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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?

Dark Angels is a prequel to Through a Glass Darkly, and accordingly I read this first (but that was an accident. At the time I didn’t know there were other books by her). Set in the court of the licentious Charles II an amazing romance springs forth (what could be a better place to set a historical romance?). Alice Verney is the female protagonist – and an amazing heroine as well! She is a courtier to Queen Catherine of Braganza and plays the role of courtier well – sneaky, smart, well-connected. Her greatest goal in life is to marry the Duke of Balmoral – a very old man – she’s in it for the title and money of course. Yet somehow her attentions are turned by Richard Saylor, who is after Renee (Louise de Keroualle). Who will she choose and how will her ambitions play out?

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.
If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book or view the book trailer?

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:


Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia
Also by Karleen Koen:
through a glass darkly
Through a Glass Darkly (Book 2)
now face to face
Now Face to Face (Book 3)
before versailles
Before Versailles (Book 4)

Find Karleen Koen: Website | Facebook | Twitter


Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Heather, I'm so glad you loved this one. I've also read Through a Glass Darkly but am now going to go and read the prequel.

    Thanks for a fantastic review!

  2. I really enjoyed this one too. I still need to read the other two books but Dark Angels was quite enjoyable

  3. Anything to do with Charles, Courts...I'm there! Great review..I'll be looking for this one. Thanks:)


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