Thursday, January 28, 2016

BLOG TOUR - Book Review: The Secrets of Lizzie Borden by Brandy Purdy

The Secrets of Lizzie Borden
by Brandy Purdy





Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Kensington Books
eBook & Print: 384 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction


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Blurb


In her enthralling, richly imagined new novel, Brandy Purdy, author of The Ripper’s Wife, creates a compelling portrait of the real, complex woman behind an unthinkable crime.

Lizzie Borden should be one of the most fortunate young women in Fall River, Massachusetts. Her wealthy father could easily afford to provide his daughters with fashionable clothes, travel, and a rich, cultured life. Instead, haunted by the ghost of childhood poverty, he forces Lizzie and her sister, Emma, to live frugally, denying them the simplest modern conveniences. Suitors and socializing are discouraged, as her father views all gentleman callers as fortune hunters.

Lonely and deeply unhappy, Lizzie stifles her frustration, dreaming of the freedom that will come with her eventual inheritance. But soon, even that chance of future independence seems about to be ripped away. And on a stifling August day in 1892, Lizzie’s long-simmering anger finally explodes…
Vividly written and thought-provoking, The Secrets of Lizzie Borden explores the fascinating events behind a crime that continues to grip the public imagination—a story of how thwarted desires and desperate rage could turn a dutiful daughter into a notorious killer.





My Review


Any time author Brandy Purdy has a new novel coming out, I jump at the chance to get a review copy prior to the release date of the book. I heard about her newest novel, “The Secrets of Lizzie Borden”, and was excited when asked to review it for my blog. Ms. Purdy is an excellent historical fiction author, and she has a natural talent when it comes to combining the facts gained from her meticulous research, and adding her own spin to the story. As a reader I never find myself bogged down with lists of facts or unnecessary descriptions, and I find it easy to become lost in her unique writing style, as well as her intriguing characters.

I knew very little about Lizzie Borden prior to reading this novel. I think I had watched a documentary about female murderers, and she was one of the women featured.  Lizzie Borden may have come from a wealthy family, but one thing that she had in common with many other murderers or serial killers was a deeply troubled childhood. She was forced to live her life almost as an outcast due to her father’s issues. She grew up different from other females her age, and was not allowed to socialize like a normal female. She spent her childhood and young adult years depressed and isolated, continuously looking towards what she hoped would be a bright future when she receives her inheritance. However, we all know that’s not how the story turned out, and it is interesting to see the author’s take on what really caused Lizzie Borden to commit such a heinous act. Although Lizzie is a murderer, I was still able to connect with her and to feel her isolation and sadness as I read this novel. The author shows that there was a lot more going on in Lizzie Borden’s story than what you see in the historical accounts of her crime.

“The Secrets of Lizzie Borden” was a little slow moving at first, and it did take me a couple of chapters to really get into the story. I would definitely recommend sticking it out if you feel like it is dragging at the start, because once you get into the meat of the story, you won’t be able to put it down! Overall, I enjoyed this novel, and I give it a FOUR out of FIVE stars.




About the Author


Brandy Purdy (Emily Purdy in the UK) is the author of the historical novels THE CONFESSION OF PIERS GAVESTON, THE BOLEYN WIFE (THE TUDOR WIFE), THE TUDOR THRONE (MARY & ELIZABETH), THE QUEEN’S PLEASURE (A COURT AFFAIR), THE QUEEN’S RIVALS (THE FALLEN QUEEN), THE BOLEYN BRIDE, and THE RIPPER’S WIFE. An ardent book lover since early childhood, she first became interested in history at the age of nine or ten years old when she read a book of ghost stories which contained a chapter about Anne Boleyn haunting the Tower of London. Visit her website at www.brandypurdy.com, you can also follow her on Facebook as Brandy Purdy aka Emily Purdy.



Blog Tour Schedule


Tuesday, January 26
Review at Julz Reads
Review at Unshelfish

Wednesday, January 27
Review at Time 2 Read
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Thursday, January 28
Friday, January 29
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Interview at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Monday, February 1
Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, February 2
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Wednesday, February 3
Review at Broken Teepee

Thursday, February 4
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Friday, February 5
Review at The True Book Addict

Monday, February 08
Review at Brooke Blogs

Tuesday, February 09
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Interview at Brooke Blogs

Wednesday, February 10
Review at A Literary Vacation
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at History From a Women’s Perspective

Thursday, February 11
Review A Book Geek

Friday, February 12
Blog Tour Wrap Up at Passages to the Past






Saturday, January 16, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - French Executioner Series: The French Executioner & The Curse of Anne Boleyn by C.C. Humphreys


Length: 400 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (October 7, 2014)




Blurb


The last thing Jean Rombaud expects upon being summoned to behead Anne Boleyn is to dedicate his life to her. But the ill-fated queen has a mysterious request for her executioner: that after taking her life he also take her infamous six-fingered hand and bury it at a sacred crossroads in France. His oath will set Jean on the most dangerous journey of his life.


In The French Executioner, C.C. Humphreys once again brings the past to life in all its glory and peril. This thrilling novel captures the breathtaking story of how courage, love, and loyalty bound Anne Boleyn to the man who ended her life―and saved her legacy.



My Review of The French Executioner



I am a sucker for historical fiction novels about or involving Anne Boleyn. I have been intrigued and awed by her since I was 10 and came across one of the older novels about her and read it. I fell in love with her story right then, and have read every book I could find about her since then. The French Executioner is not exactly about Anne Boleyn, but it definitely does deal with her life. The premise of this novel is that when Anne was ordered to be executed by her husband, King Henry VIII, because of her supposed adultery with many men, including (supposedly) her brother (in reality the king just wanted to get rid of her so he could marry Jane Seymore). Anne's executioner, Jean Rombaud, was requested from France, where he was known for his ability to execute criminals cleanly and quickly with his sword.  As a last act of "kindness", Henry VIII allowed her to be executed by Jean, rather than by the regular executioner and his ax or being burned at the stake. Anne requests that her hand with six fingers (some historians say that she had six fingers, but I believe it was a smear campaign by those who hated her) be buried at a sacred crossroad in France. Jean pledges to Anne that he will follow through with her request, and after her execution he sets out on a journey to fulfill his promise. The journey is, of course, filled with danger, mystery, adventure, and intrigue. It started out a little slow for me, but once I got into it I definitely enjoyed it. I love historical fiction from the time period of King Henry VIII and his wives, so this novel fit right in with my preferred genre. The book is the first of a set of two, with the second novel called The Curse of Anne Boleyn. I have read both, and really liked both of them. Unfortunately, I read them out of order, and I would suggest reading this book prior to book 2. 

I would definitely recommend this novel to historical fiction fans. It's an interesting read, and the author is an excellent writer. The descriptions of scenery, people, and life during that time period take you right there with the characters. The characters are well-rounded, and likable, which is huge for me when it comes to enjoying a novel. 
I give this novel a FOUR out of FIVE stars.




Reviews for The French Executioner



"Humphreys has fashioned a rollicking good yarn that keeps the pages turning from start to finish."―Irish Examiner

"A wonderful saga of magic and heroism. If you can find a first impression, hoard it and wait till it rises in value like a first edition of Lord of the Rings. This is as good."―Crime Time, UK

"A brilliant, brutal, and absorbing historical thriller on the real-life figure of Jean Rombaud, the man who beheaded Anne Boleyn."―Northern Echo

"Set against the backdrop of the Protestant Reformation, his superbloody Princess Bride-like adventure is, at its heart, a tale of redemption, well earned and hard-won." --Library Journal

"Humphreys (Jack Absolute) breathes life into 16th century Europe with this fascinating tale of adventure and mystery...Humphreys's characters are well drawn and deeply empathetic, and Rombaud's mission remains entertaining throughout. " --Publishers Weekly





Sequel to The French Executioner



Length: 416 Pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (May 5, 2015)



Blurb


From the masterful C.C. Humphreys comes the captivating sequel to The French Executioner

Nearly twenty years have passed since Anne Boleyn died at the hands of her slayer and savior, Jean Rombaud. All he wants is to forget his sword-wielding days and live happily with his family. Yet her distinctive six-fingered hand, stolen at her death—and all the dark power it represents—still compels evil men to seek it out.

When Jean's son, Gianni, joins the Inquisition in Rome and betrays all his father worked for, Jean discovers that time alone cannot take him—or his son—far from his past. But he never expected his whole family, especially his beloved daughter Anne, to become caught up once more in the tragic queen's terrible legacy.

From the savagery of way in Italy to the streets of London and Paris and the wilds of North America,The Curse of Anne Boleyn sweeps readers into a thrilling story that puts love, loyalty, and family to the ultimate test.




My Review of The Curse of Anne Boleyn



Give me a novel about Anne Boleyn, and I am a happy reader! This might sounds like an exaggeration, but I have been reading novels about Anne Boleyn's life, every book I can find, for well over 10 years. "The Curse of Anne Boleyn" by C.C. Humphreys is another great novel that is related to Anne Boleyn’s fascinating story. I like how the author wrote a book that is not really about Anne, but more so about the legacy she left, and how her life, and her death in this novel, affected those who had any connection with her. This novel is the story that follows C.C. Humphrey's first novel, The French Executioner. It is a continuation of Jean Rombaud's story, as he attempts to follow through with a promise he made to Anne Boleyn prior to executing her at the King's order. The author takes the reader on a fast paced journey through many parts of the world. The amount of research that had to have gone into this novel is astounding, however the reader is never bogged down with lists of facts. There is intrigue, adventure, and several twists that will surprise the reader. It is definitely a book that I recommend reading if historical fiction, especially during the time period of the Tudors in England, is a genre you enjoy. Several others have suggested reading the first novel, The French Executioner, before this novel. I would have to agree, because there are details that might be lost to the reader if they have not read the first book. It is possible to read this as a stand-alone, but I think the reader will enjoy it more if they read both novels.

I give this novel a FIVE out of FIVE stars, and I definitely recommend reading The Curse of Anne Boleyn, as well as The French Executioner by C.C. Humphreys.





Reviews for The Curse of Anne Boleyn



"Humphreys is a master of the sweeping epic, merging the battles of an Errol Flynn movie with all the intrigues of the Borgias. Fans of good old-fashioned adventures will adore this ambitious novel." - RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

"C.C. Humphreys stays true to his adventurous style and flair and treats his audience to another great read in his latest book: The Curse of Anne Boleyn... What a treat to read yet another engaging adventure penned by the likes of Mr. Humphreys" - Feathered Quill Book Reviews

"Great for readers who are looking for an action story with a little bit of mystery included." - A Bookish Affair
"Humphrey's attention to historical detail, his deftly crafted characters, combined with a storyline replete with unexpected twists and turns, makes for an engaging and thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end. " - Midwest Book Review


Friday, January 15, 2016

GUEST POST: Michael Murphy, Author of The Yankee Club and All That Glitters

One of the most common questions I receive about my writing is how did I come to write a historical mystery series set in the 1930’s. People have heard about the Depression, the Dust Bowls, soup kitchens and breadlines and are surprised I would attempt to write a witty, sophisticated mystery series.

The thirties were tough times. Lives, careers and hopes were shattered by The Great Depression as unemployment soared to twenty-five percent of the workforce.

Prohibition had proven to be a noble but failed experiment leading to the rise of organized crime. Gangsters such as Al Capone, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow achieved wealth and notoriety. 

The Great Depression caused an immense void between those with wealth and those who struggled to find food, shelter and employment. Those with money battled to keep their wealth and power. The void led people respond to extreme politicians who promised to right the world’s wrong; Nazis and Communists in Europe and America.

The public longed for heroes and found them in Cole Porter, Amelia Earhart, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, boxers James Braddock and Joe Louis, movie stars like William Powell, Jean Harlow, Clark Gable and Shirley Temple.

In Hollywood, the thirties are now referred to as Hollywood’s Golden Age, the rise of talking
pictures and the pre-code era that produced so many naughty and bawdy movies. The golden age of mysteries included this decade with writers such as Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie produced some of their classic novels during these years

I believe readers of historical fiction enjoy their fictional heroes interacting with historical figures. The thirties presented a perfect opportunity to take readers along on a journey into these fascinating times and interesting people; the bright lights and dark alleys of New York and the glamour and glitz of Tinsel town.

In my Jake and Laura mystery series, readers will get to know Jake Donovan, a former detective turned mystery writer and Laura Wilson a Broadway actress with dreams of Hollywood. And they’ll journey back to New York City in The Yankee Club, the Golden Age of Hollywood in All That Glitters, and meet Amelia Earhart in the upcoming Jake and Laura mystery, Wings in the Dark.

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Michael Murphy is a full time writer and part time urban chicken rancher in Arizona. He and his wife of over forty years recently adopted five children.

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Saturday, January 2, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - The King's Sisters by Sarah Kennedy



Series: The Cross and the Crown (book 3)
Pages: 320
Publisher: Knox Robinson Publishing




Blurb



It is now 1542 and another queen, Catherine Howard, has been beheaded for adultery.  Although young Prince Edward is thriving, and the line of Tudor succession seems secure, the king falls into a deep melancholy and questions the faith and loyalty of those around him. Catherine has found herself in a unique position as a married former nun.  Now she is a wealthy widow.  She has two children, a boy who has successfully joined the young prince’s household and a daughter who lives with her at Richmond Palace, home to Henry’s cast-off fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, now designated “The King’s Beloved Sister.”  Catherine also enjoys the attentions of widower Benjamin Davies, and in the festive court atmosphere, she has furtively indulged her passion for him.  But England has changed again. Anne of Cleves hopes for reinstatement as queen―until questions arise about the finances of the houses she keeps.  Catherine, as one of the king’s “reformed sisters,” is singled out, just as she realizes that she is carrying a third child. The King’s Sisters explores the Tudor court under an aging Henry VIII.  He now has a son and heir, but his two daughters remain players in the political intrigues. The Cross and the Crown series follows the very private Catherine as she is thrust into the scheming.  She is skilled enough to serve a former queen . . . but this may be the very quality that endangers her future.



My Review


The Kings Sisters by Sarah Kennedy is an extremely well written, as well as interesting work of historical fiction, however it was a little slow starting for me. After I had gotten a chapter or two into the novel, it began to pick up for me. The slow start could be due to the fact that it is book three in The Cross & the Crown Series, so I had to figure a few things out, as I have not yet read books one and two. However, I don't feel that it is necessary to read the first two books in order to follow along with what is going on in the novel. The main character, Catherine, belongs to Anne of Cleves household in Tudor England. King Henry VIII is still King of England, and has just recently beheaded his queen, Catherine Howard. The atmosphere is that of intrigue and conspiracy, and the main character finds herself embroiled in one intrigue, and must use her wits to stay out of the grasp of Martin David Martins, who is after more and more money and power.

Ms. Kennedy does an excellent job at staying true to Tudor history with her novel. I really like that she obviously has done a lot of research, and there are no areas in the novel where I had to really suspend my disbelief. The author also is able to take the facts, and turn it into a tale that reads nothing like a history book, but like a fascinating story that takes the reader right into the midst of Tudor England.
I will definitely be looking into books one and two of The Cross & the Crown Series. The only reason I am giving this novel a four, rather than five stars, is the fact that it took a little bit to get into the story. I like to be pulled into a story within the first couple pages, but it took a couple chapters for me to be able to get into this novel.




Praise for The Cross and the Crown Series

“A true page-turner.”—Historical Novels Review

“It is not necessary to read the first novel in the series to enjoy this book, but those finding this their first introduction to Catherine will surely search out the first novel to spend more time with this feisty woman in her richly detailed world.”—Foreword Reviews

“….In City of Ladies Kennedy takes her place with Daphne du Maurier, Anya Seton, Rosemary Sutcliff, and Hilary Mantel as writer of superb historical fiction.”—Suzanne Keen, author of Empathy and the Novel




About the Author


Sarah Kennedy holds a Ph.D. in Renaissance Literature from Purdue University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College. The author of seven books of poems as well as The Altarpiece and City of Ladies, books one and two in The Cross and the Crown series, she has received individual artist grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts, as well as an award for scholarship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She teaches at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia. Her website is http://sarahkennedybooks.com/.




Want to start reading The Cross and the Crown Series? Click below to purchase book 1 in the series, The Altarpiece.



Sunday, December 27, 2015

BOOK REVIEW - The King's Sister by Anne O'Brien


Pages: 560
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Date: November 2014




Book Blurb


One betrayal is all it takes to change history

1382. Daughter of John of Gaunt, sister to the future King Henry IV, Elizabeth of Lancaster has learned the shrewd tricks of the court from England’s most powerful men.

In a time of political turmoil, allegiance to family is everything. A Plantagenet princess should never defy her father’s wishes. Yet headstrong Elizabeth refuses to bow to the fate of a strategic marriage. Rejecting her duty, Elizabeth weds the charming and ruthlessly ambitious Sir John Holland: Duke of Exeter, half-brother to King Richard II and the one man she has always wanted.
But defiance can come at a price.

1399. Elizabeth’s brother Henry has seized the throne. Her husband, confidant to the usurped Richard, masterminds a secret plot against the new King. Trapped in a dangerous web, Elizabeth must make a choice.

Defy the King and betray her family. Or condemn her husband and send him to his death.

Sister. Wife. Traitor.

She holds the fate of England in her hands.



My Review 


Anne O’Brien is by far one of my favorite historical fiction authors, and I am reminded of why this is after reading “The King’s Sister”. I can honestly say that I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster while reading this novel. I laughed, cried, felt angry, shocked, and sad as I completely lost myself in this book due to Anne O’Brien’s superb writing skills. Prior to reading “The King’s Sister” I knew very little about Elizabeth of Lancaster. She has always been a minor character who I “met” in passing as I read novels about King Henry IV or her famous father the Duke of Lancaster. However, after reading this book, I honestly felt as though I knew her. Ms. O’Brien really has a way of bringing her characters to life for readers. I’ve read several of her novels, and I’ve loved every one. The way that the author describes the everyday lives of her characters makes them seem so real. Obviously Elizabeth of Lancaster truly was a real person hundreds of years ago, but there was very little that was known about her. As with many important women from history, their importance was overshadowed by whatever the men at that time were doing. However, the way that the author portrays Elizabeth of Lancaster feels right, and it is easy to picture her just as described. Since I knew so little about her life, I was shocked when certain events happened, and I actually got teared up towards the end. To be able to really connect with a character, to me, is a priority when I read a novel. I want to love, and sometimes even hate, the character. I want to feel like I KNOW the character by the time I finish the novel. Nothing is more disappointing than reading a novel and being unable to understand the main character or to have any type of strong emotions for the character.


“The King’s Sister” had my interest right from the beginning, and when I closed the book at the end, I wanted it to keep going. I have nothing but positive feelings and glowing praise for this novel, and it is a solid FIVE out of FIVE stars for me!



Praise for Anne O’Brien

‘The gripping tale of Elizabeth of Lancaster, sibling of Henry IV. Packed with love, loss and intrigue’ - Sunday Express S Magazine

‘Her writing is highly evocative of the time period… O’Brien has produced an epic tale’    - Historical Novel Society

‘Anne O’Brien’s novels give a voice to the “silent” women of history’ - Yorkshire Post

‘This book is flawlessly written and well researched, and will appeal to her fans and those who like Philippa Gregory’s novels’ – Birmingham Post

‘A brilliantly researched and well-told story; you won’t be able to put this book down’ - Candis


About Anne O'Brien

Anne was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire. After gaining a B.A. Honours degree in History at Manchester University, a PGCE at Leeds University and a Masters degree in education at Hull University, she lived in the East Riding as a teacher of history. Always a prolific reader, she enjoyed historical fiction and was encouraged to try her hand at writing. Success in short story competitions spurred her on.

Leaving teaching – but not her love of history – she wrote her first historical romance, a Regency, which was published in 2005. To date nine historical romances and a novella, ranging from medieval, through the Civil War and Restoration and back to Regency, have been published internationally.

Anne now lives with her husband in an eighteenth century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire, a wild, beautiful place on the borders between England and Wales, renowned for its black and white timbered houses, ruined castles and priories and magnificent churches. Steeped in history, famous people and bloody deeds as well as ghosts and folk lore, it has given her inspiration for her writing. Since living there she has become hooked on medieval history.
Sometimes she escapes from writing. She enjoys her garden, a large, rambling area where she grows vegetables and soft fruit as well as keeping control over herbaceous flower borders, a wild garden, a small orchard and a formal pond. With an interest in herbs and their uses, Anne has a herb patch constructed on the pattern of a Tudor knot garden and enjoys cooking with the proceeds. Gardening is a perfect time for her to mull over what she’s been writing, as she wages war on the weeds.


Learn more about Anne and her fantastic novels on her website:  http://www.anneobrien.co.uk/

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

BLOG TOUR - GUEST POST by Sophie Perinot, author of Medicis Daughter: Dangerous Seductions

I am excited to have Sophie Perinot, author of Medicis Daughter (click here for my review of this novel), share a post about Queen Catherine de Médicis l'escadron volant (flying squadron). So interesting!

Dangerous Seductions: The Cautionary Tale of the Baronne de Limeuil


At the conclusion of the first French War of Religion, Queen Catherine de Médicis made a calculated decision—the most important place to promote and maintain the tenuous peace was within the French Court itself.  Borrowing a page from her father-in-law, King Francis I, Catherine set out to amuse the heads of the great noble houses, hoping that if they were sufficiently distracted by pleasure and good living they would have no further interest in leading armies. As part of her plan Catherine, who up to this point had a pretty unremarkable household, assembled a collection of exquisite women from the best houses in France. These eighty to one-hundred beauties came to be called Her Majesty’s l'escadron volant (flying squadron). Its members dressed to dazzle and made witty conversation. Exactly what they did beyond that provides an excellent illustration of the difference between standards of conduct set at the French Court and behaviors that were, in reality, tolerated and even ordered.

Pierre de Brantôme (worldly abbot and recorder of royal doings) described the members of the Queen’s l’escadron volant as “very polite maidens,” and insisted they were highly virtuous, providing only the most innocent diversions to the gentlemen of the court.  It should be noted, however, that Brantôme was an enormous fan of Queen Catherine, and she returned the admiration (showing him profitable favor), presumably because he was a man who knew how to chronicle the court in a way that reflected well on the Valois.  So Brantôme’s description of Catherine’s ladies-in-waiting must be taken with a grain of salt.  The truth is probably closer to a cutting remark made by Jeanne d’Albret, Queen of Navarre, that, at the Valois Court, it is “not the men who invite the women, but the women who invite the men.” It is fairly clear from the historical record that Catherine wished her young dames d’honneur  to appear as models of decorum in settings where decorum was required, but to act in more lascivious ways—using seduction to both spy upon and control powerful gentlemen—where that was profitable to her.

This dichotomy was one of the unspoken rules that the youthful Princess Marguerite, main character in Médicis Daughter, had to decode when she joined her Mother’s household.  As a Royal princess whose virginity was coin of the realm, Margot also quickly learned that no double-standard would be tolerated in her case. Brining dishonor to the family was a dangerous act with frightful consequences.  This was true even for those ladies whose duty to the queen encompassed being the mistress of one great man or another.  Such women walked a tightrope between reward and ruin and the penalties for slipping and embarrassing Queen Catherine could be very severe.

A case in point—and one which Princess Marguerite would have witnessed firsthand—is the sad story of Isabelle de la Tour, Baronne de Limeuil.  The Baronne was a thirty-year-old dame d’honneur when Margot joined the court in 1564. At that point Isabelle had already been mistress to: Claude d’Aumale (brother of the influential Francis, Duc de Guise) and Florimond Robertet, Seigneur d’Alluye (a young secretary of state who was entirely a creation of the Guises). Both of these “placements” had served Catherine de Médicis’ need for eyes and ears within the powerful Guise entourage.  But when the old Duc de Guise was assassinated in 1563, the balance of power at the court changed. Ratification of the Peace of Amboise with the Protestant rebels just a month later shifted the balance further still. Scores of Protestant nobles returned to court to take up positions they had vacated to wage war against their king. The House of Bourbon was the most powerful and highly ranked of the returning families because it included the Princes of the Blood—men legitimately descended in dynastic line from France’s hereditary monarchs. Catherine needed a spy among the Bourbons, so that she might hear any whispers of new disloyalties to young Charles IX.  So the Baronne de Limeuil was set upon their leader—Louis de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, Huguenot chief, and negotiator of the treaty of Amboise.
So far so good.

Isabelle was where Catherine de Médicis wanted her to be and, while all at the court may have known of the lovely Baronne’s amour, blind eyes could be turned as needed or desired. Unfortunately, the Baronne allowed herself to fall in love with Condé. And then she did something even more unacceptable: she got pregnant. In fact, when Margot arrived at court for the Grand Royal Progress (see my blog post on this journey), Isabelle was already concealing her pregnancy.  What de Condé said about the situation is lost to history. But it is quite clear that Isabelle believed she would be taken care of by her lover.

Extraordinarily, Isabelle managed to keep her condition a secret until the fateful moment when—in June 1564, while the Royal Progress was stopped at Lyon[1]—she went into labor. Delivered of a boy, the baby was put in a basket with a note and quickly dispatched to the Prince de Condé (who was momentarily not with the royal travel party). The Baronne was much more roughly treated. Catherine was furious that Isabelle had allowed herself to become pregnant—never mind that it was in direct pursuit of her duties. Such a pregnancy reflected poorly on the morals of the Queen’s household, and on the King’s Court. Isabelle was summarily dismissed from royal service and banished to a convent where she was confined by Catherine’s orders. The Baronne experienced a moment of hope in her captivity when, just a month after her son’s birth, the Prince de Condé’s wife died. Isabelle believed she would be the next Princesse de Condé. But, the Prince did not rescue his former amante. Instead he married a girl from a prominent Protestant family, Francoise d’Orleans (who was only 16). The betrayal of Isabelle de la Tour, Baronne de Limeuil—by her Queen and by her beloved—was now complete.

Eventually, Catherine de Médicis released the Baronne from imprisonment. The price for that freedom? Well, in 1567 Isabelle was married off to one of her Catherine’s wealthy Italian financiers, Sardini Scipio. Thus she was freed only to be turned once again into a “reward” bestowed by her queen upon a powerful man. One imagines Isabelle felt no great affection for Catherine de Médicis at this point. It is certain that she was forever bitter at and furious with the Prince de Condé. When Condé was killed (March 1569), after surrendering at the Battle of Jarnac, the historical record tells us that Isabelle celebrated. Who can blame her?

The dramatic story of Isabelle de la Tour was a subplot in my first draft of Médicis Daughter. Alas, considerations of length and storytelling required me to remove it. But in the near future I will be sharing excerpts at my blog, so keep an eye out.




[1] Some sources suggest the birth was in May and at Dijon, but that is not my assessment.

BLOG TOUR - REVIEW: Medicis Daughter: A Novel of Marguerite De Valois by Sophie Perinot

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Winter, 1564. Beautiful young Princess Margot is summoned to the court of France, where nothing is what it seems and a wrong word can lead to ruin. Known across Europe as Madame la Serpente, Margot s intimidating mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, is a powerful force in a country devastated by religious war. Among the crafty nobility of the royal court, Margot learns the intriguing and unspoken rules she must live by to please her poisonous family.Eager to be an obedient daughter, Margot accepts her role as a marriage pawn, even as she is charmed by the powerful, charismatic Duc de Guise. Though Margot's heart belongs to Guise, her hand will be offered to Henri of Navarre, aHuguenot leader and a notorious heretic looking to seal a tenuous truce. But the promised peace is a mirage: her mother's schemes are endless, and her brothers plot vengeance in the streets of Paris. When Margot's wedding devolves into the bloodshed of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, she will be forced to choose between her family and her soul. Médicis Daughter is historical fiction at its finest, weaving a unique coming-of-age story and a forbidden love with one of the most dramatic and violent events in French history.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | INDIEBOUND


My Review

I was seriously due for a great read after dealing with the past couple months of craziness in my life, and a great read is exactly what author Sophie Perinot provided! “Medicis Daugher: A Novel of Marguerite de Valois” was the perfect escape into the past, and I was able to quickly lose myself in this novel for long periods of time. Marguerite de Valois, called Princess Margot, is one of the daughters of Queen Catherine de Medici, who history has portrayed as a witch, poisoner, murderer, manipulator, and more. Margot fights to find her own way to happiness, in a world where her every move is controlled and manipulated by either her mother or her brother. The author, Sophie Perinot, did an excellent job bringing these intriguing historical figures to life for her readers. I like that she did not paint Catherine de Medici as either an evil sorceress or an innocent bystander, but stayed somewhere in the middle. Many books I have read about Catherine either portray her as at fault for everything that went wrong during her husband and son’s reigns, or as completely innocent, but Ms. Perinot takes the ‘middle road’ with her character in this novel. I also enjoyed reading more about the lives of Catherine’s children. I have read several novels about Catherine in the past, but the focus has always been on her life, not her children’s lives. It was interesting to see her sons shown as more than sickly, weak men. Also, in previous novels, Princess Margot was almost an afterthought, so I really enjoyed reading about her life. I was able to connect with her character while reading, and she definitely came to life for me in this novel. There is some romance in this novel, but it is far from your typical romance. Margot has her fair share of ups and downs, and as with most women during this era, there seem to be more “downs” than there are “ups” in her life. However, she is able to make it work, as she is a strong woman, who knew how to play it safe in a court where saying or doing the wrong thing could get you killed.

This time period in France, the late 1500’s, is completely fascinating. The author describes the people, places, and events of this time period with great accuracy, but does so in a way that keeps the story flowing smoothly, and without boring the reader. This is the second novel I have read by Ms. Perinot, as she also wrote “The Sister Queens” (another wonderful historical fiction novel!) I will continue to ready and review any of her future novels, as she is a historical fiction author who has made it onto my list of favorites! “Medicis Daughter” gets a solid FIVE out of FIVE stars from me!

Also, be sure to check out additional information about this fabulous novel by reading Sophie Perinot's Guest Post DANGEROUS SEDUCTIONS at Historical Fiction Obsession! 


Advance Praise


This is Renaissance France meets Game of Thrones: dark, sumptuous historical fiction that coils religious strife, court intrigue, passionate love, family hatred, and betrayed innocence like a nest of poisonous snakes. Beautiful Princess Margot acts as our guide to the heart of her violent family, as she blossoms from naive court pawn to woman of conscience and renown.A highly recommended coming-of-age tale where the princess learns to slay her own dragons! --Kate Quinn, Bestselling author of LADY OF THE ETERNAL CITY

"The riveting story of a 16th century French princess caught in the throes of royal intrigue and religious war. From the arms of the charismatic Duke of Guiseto the blood-soaked streets of Paris, Princess Marguerite runs a dangerous gauntlet, taking the reader with her. An absolutely gripping read!" --Michelle Moran, bestselling author of THE REBEL QUEEN 

"Rising above the chorus of historical drama is Perinot's epic tale of the fascinating, lascivious, ruthless House of Valois, as told through the eyes of the complicated and intelligent Princess Marguerite. Burdened by her unscrupulous family and desperate for meaningful relationships, Margot is forced to navigate her own path in sixteenth century France. Amid wars of nation and heart, Médicis Daughter brilliantly demonstrates how one unique woman beats staggering odds to find the strength and power that is her birthright." --Erika Robuck, bestselling author of HEMINGWAY'S GIRL



About the Author



SP SmallSOPHIE PERINOT is the author of The Sister Queens and one of six contributing authors of A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii. A former attorney, Perinot is now a full-time writer. She lives in Great Falls, Virginia with her three children, three cats, one dog and one husband.An active member of the Historical Novel Society, Sophie has attended all of thegroup s North American Conferences and served as a panelist multiple times. Findher among the literary twitterati as @Lit_gal or on Facebook.



Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 16
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, November 17
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, November 18
Review at The Maiden's Court
Thursday, November 19
Review at The Eclectic Reader
Friday, November 20
Review at The True Book Addict
Monday, November 23
Review at Broken Teepee
Guest Post at ALiterary Vacation
Tuesday, November 24
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Wednesday, November 25
Review at A Literary Vacation
Friday, November 27
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Monday, November 30
Review at leeanna.me
Tuesday, December 1
Review at To Read, Or Notto Read
Wednesday, December 2
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Thursday, December 3
Review at The Book Binder's Daughter
Friday, December 4
Guest Post at Bibliophilia, Please
Monday, December 7
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, December 8
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, December 9
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Thursday, December 10
Review at The Readers Hollow
Friday, December 11
Review at Reading Lark
Monday, December 14
Review at A Book Geek
Tuesday, December 15
Review at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, December 16
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Friday, December 18
Review & Interview at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Monday, December 21
Review at Bookish
Tuesday, December 22
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, December 23
Review & Guest Post at Historical Fiction Obsession
Monday, December 28
Review at Unshelfish
Tuesday, December 29
Interview at Unshelfish
Thursday, December 31
Review at The Reading Queen


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