Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Susan Carroll: The Courtesan

The Dark Queen: A-
Gabrielle Cheney & Captain Nicolas Remy
The Dark Queen series #2

Paris, 1575.

The consort of some of Europe’s most influential men, Gabrielle Cheney is determined to secure her future by winning the heart of Henry, the Huguenot king of Navarre. As his mistress, Gabrielle hopes she might one day become the power behind the French throne. But her plans are jeopardized by Captain Nicolas Rémy, a devoted warrior whose love Gabrielle desires–and fears–above all. She will also incur the malevolence of the Dark Queen, Catherine de’ Medici, whose spies and witch-hunters are legion, and who will summon the black arts to maintain her authority. With the lives of those she loves in peril, Gabrielle must rebel against her queen to fulfill a glorious destiny she has sacrificed everything to gain.

Alive with vivid period detail and characters as vibrant as they are memorable, The Courtesan is a sweeping historical tale of dangerous intrigues, deep treachery, and one woman’s unshakable resolve to honor her heart.

Continuing the story started in the first novel, The Dark Queen, readers discover that the evil Catherine de Medici is still in power and still as evil as ever. She is, after all, a very powerful witch daughter of the earth.

Gabrielle Cheney, jaded and embittered by her past experiences by her first love has made it clear in The Dark Queen that she wanted to be powerful in the royal court. Her way to achieve this: by becoming a very famous and much desired courtesan in the French royal court.

It has been three years since she moved from home – and three years since the fallout she’s had with her eldest sister, Ariane. She is popular, desired, and essentially has everything she desires. However, she still thinks of Captain Nicolas Remy, the honorable and very loyal soldier whom Ariane cared for when he came to their home. At the end of the first novel, we are led to believe that Remy has died.

Gabrielle is stunned when Nicolas seems to have come back from the dead, by the help of his young friend and admirer “Wolf.” Remy is back to save his prince, who had surrendered power to Catherine de Medici, and is currently in the French royal courts. When Remy discovers what Gabrielle is – and what her position is in the courts – he is appalled, despite being in love with her.

Remy’s prince is infatuated with Gabrielle and wants her to be his latest mistress – something he tells Remy, and in order for everyone to safely get out of France, the Prince orders Remy to pretend to wed Gabrielle (hah!). Things get sticky when Gabrielle consorts to dark magic with the help of a sorceress, Cassandra, and witch hunters come return, with the once-innocent Simon Astiride as the group’s leader.

This is an action-packed novel with an intricately woven plot. It also has delicious moments between Miribelle and Simon, two characters whom I love dearly (and are the h/h for the third novel!).

Reeeeeeead this read this!

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