2019 Book #80 – The Duke’s Stolen Bride by Sophie Jordan

512jesA6P5LTitle: The Duke’s Stolen Bride
Author: Sophie Jordan
Date finished: 10/22/19
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: October 22, 2019
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: #5 in The Rogue Files series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

An urgent dilemma…

To save her impoverished family, Marian Langley will become a mistress. But she will not be just any mistress. Marian intends to become so skilled, so coveted, that she can set her own terms, retaining control over her body and her fate. Only one problem remains: finding a tutor…

A scandalous solution…

Other men deprive themselves of pleasure for propriety’s sake. Nathaniel, Duke of Warrington, would much rather be depraved. He slakes his desires with professionals who ask nothing of him but his coin. Marian’s proposal—that he train her without taking her virtue—is an intriguing diversion, until their lessons in seduction spin out of control.

And a most unlikely duchess…

When Marian is blackmailed into engagement by a man she despises, Nate impulsively steals her away. Though he never intended to take a wife, he can’t tolerate the idea of Marian forfeiting her freedom to another. But can he bear to give her what she demands—a real marriage?

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also I’m reading this book as part of my October Bookish Bingo Reading Challenge, checking of the “a character goes missing” box since Marian gets herself kidnapped towards the end of the book (*spoiler alert* I guess though it’s not a huge plot point).

I had actually read the last book in this series also (#4) and didn’t really realize it til partway through the book. Which is fine. Anyways, I had mixed feelings about this book. There was a lot that I did really like – the chemistry between the two main characters was fantastic and I swear the pages caught on fire during a couple of their intimate scenes. Also the book overall really captured my interest and I wanted to see how the book would end. At the same time though, there were some problematic areas of the book for me. The biggest is probably the scene where Marian and Nate have sex for the first time – there is some questionable consent in the scene that made me unhappy. It involved Nate being the one not fully consenting, but I don’t think that should be treated any differently than how a reader would think of the scene were a woman in his place. I also just overall wasn’t into the plot line personally. The fact that Marian had to basically throw herself at him, and then let him walk all over her in order to strike the deal she needed, was not my cup of tea. I’m sure it will 100% work for certain readers but it didn’t for me. Overall this was (I thought) a well written book but it just wasn’t the right fit for me personally.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

The Enemies of Versailles BLOG TOUR!!

S. Christie Banner

The Enemies of Versailles will be released this Tuesday (March 21st) and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book here. See below for more information about the book, an excerpt, a short author bio, and author Q&A! This was a really good read and a great conclusion to the series, I would definitely recommend checking it out! 

SUMMARY

In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.
“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.”
After decades of suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.
Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

4957310Sally Christie was born in England of British parents and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three languages. She has spent most of her career working in international development and is currently settled in Toronto. A life-long history buff who wishes time travel were a real possibility—she’d be off to the eighteenth century in a flash!—The Enemies of Versailles is her third novel. Learn more about Sally and the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy at www.sallychristieauthor.com

 

AUTHOR Q&A

What about the topic of the mistresses of King Louis XV captured your attention? What made you want to write about this?

I was initially drawn to the incredible tale of the five Nesle sisters, four of whom became his first mistresses. I was amazed that their story was virtually unknown in the English-speaking world, and I remembered being so excited that I had found it and that I would be the one to tell it!

I was initially only focused on the sisters, but when I discovered that his more famous mistresses – the Marquise de Pompadour and the Comtesse du Barry – also hadn’t been the subject of any English fiction, the trilogy was born.

Which mistress was your favorite? Or alternatively which character in the books was your favorite?

Hmmmm…. A hard question! I really loved all my characters – each of the five Nesle sisters has a place in my heart and I adored Jeanne du Barry – I think she was perhaps overall the kindest, most genuine woman. Pompadour was a little trickier, because she is (and was) such an enigma – she was the perfect woman that became exactly who the king wanted her to be, and trying to discover her real persona and her real motivations was fascinating.

There is a soft spot in my heart for Madame Adelaide, Louis XV’s eldest surviving daughter and the nemesis of Jeanne du Barry in The Enemies of Versailles. It was really interesting researching about the daily lives of her and her sisters, and all of the constraints and boundaries around them as unmarried royal princesses in the stultifying world of Versailles.  She became a figure of fun in her later years, and in my book I do lampoon her a bit – it’s easy to make fun of fusty old spinsters and I certainly fell into that trap. In reality I think she was an intelligent woman who no doubt suffered quite a bit in her life, both before and after the Revolution.

When did you realize you wanted to be an author and did you have another profession before this?

I’ve been writing since I was 8 years old and writing has been my constant companion and hobby throughout the years. Even though I wasn’t published, I always considered myself a writer (because that’s what I did!), and when a change in my circumstances a few years ago left me with some space and time to write full-time, I thought: “Okay, let’s test this assumption that you are a writer.” Luckily everything worked out and I did become a writer!

Between graduating from university and writing the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, I worked at a whack of other jobs, including financial services, headhunting and international development, and also got an MBA. I like having had lots of varied, real-world experiences before writing full-time; I definitely think it helps in terms of character development and motivations.

I also found working in different cultures overseas helped with writing history: in different societies you get to experience remnants of the past, for example more overt sexism than what we might deal with today in North America, or attitudes about poverty or handicapped people that might mimic some of what existed in the 18th century.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

The best piece of advice I read when I was dedicating myself to writing full time was: “Write the book you’d want to read.” And I did, and I loved the book I was writing (at that time my first book, The Sisters of Versailles) and it helped me to keep the faith during the nerve-wracking querying and selling process – if I liked it, surely someone else would too!

EXCERPT

5154lvfkqgl-_sx320_bo1204203200_“I am in the arms of an angel,” he declared, over and again. “What kind of angel are you?” he asked me, then answered himself: “A saucy, dirty, lovely, kind angel. But an angel, my dearest: never have I awoken to such delights.”

I savor his words and the memories, trying to catch every little detail before they disappear. That look of delight when I showed him the way; how he turned from a jaded old man into one filled with tenderness and energy; his doting words (I have been waiting for you all my life); the feel of his skin; the smell of verbena on the pillows; the softness of the down mattress; and his childish delight in all that I offered him.

“I have been wandering in the desert for four years,” he murmured. “Not forty, as Moses did, but four years is a long enough time. Now I have found you.”

I stayed two days and two nights nestled in a room under the eaves of the palace. Then Louis—as he says I must call him—had to prepare for the imminent death of the queen, and I was sent here to this discreet little house in town, just steps from the palace.

Barry joins me, flustered and nervous. He promised me—the king, I mean, not Barry—that he would send for me soon. “As soon as I can, my angel,” he said, holding me tighter than any man has ever held me. And now I sit, and wait, and remember. The house is small, but clean and smartly furnished. I wander through the rooms and look at the naked nymphs painted on the salon walls, smile in recognition at a gilded chair with straps, now sitting in an empty bedchamber. It is so quiet here, after all the noise and bustle of Paris—almost like being in the countryside.

I sigh in contentment. The King of France said he loved me! Me.

“He is so kind and has the nicest eyes and his voice is so soft and deep, as soft as . . . as . . . a cushion.” My eyes fasten on the sofa, then on the delicate tortoiseshell box that arrived that morning, containing a beautiful pearl necklace. “And, oh,” I continue, jumping up onto a chair and sticking my tongue out at Barry:

“Did I mention he is the king? The King of France?” Barry puffs his cheeks and watches me silently. He’s worried; it’s been three days now, and apart from the necklace, no word from the palace.

“Three days,” he says sharply. “Three days—you’re a fool to be dancing around like you own him. He’s forgotten you already.”

“Oh, la, shut up!” I cry, jumping down and going over to ruffle his hair. “The king loves me. Loves me,” I repeat. “Don’t be worried. Now,” I say, leaning down to peck Barry on the cheek, “instead of worrying, you should be planning which government post you want! Or would you like another five supply contracts? Ten?” Or maybe an ambassadorship, I think, twirling away and going to sit by the window; it might be nice to have Barry firmly gone.

“I did consult my lawyer about purchasing a house on the rue de Varennes,” he says, puffing out another long sigh. “But perhaps that was premature, two nights is a flimsy foundation for a lifetime of dreams to hang upon.”

“Oh, poof, Barry, you do talk nonsense sometimes. I’m going out for a walk.” I grab my cloak and hurry out the door, eager to get away from his sour mood. I want to walk forever and absorb the amazing turn my life has taken, but instead my footsteps lead me toward the Place d’Armes, the giant esplanade in front of the palace. All roads lead here. Ahead of me the palace sits in its golden, spreading glory, hundreds of windows glinting back their secrets, the majestic iron and gold gates hung with great black cloths for the queen’s mourning. He is in there, somewhere . . . What is he doing? Is he thinking of me?

Versailles is a fairyland, a land of mythical beings, one that spreads for miles and miles. That is the life that I want. Barry always accuses me of being lazy, and without ambition, but suddenly I feel it, a craving so intense and so sharp it stops my heart with longing.

I want that life, and all that it offers.

2016 Book #31 – The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie

91BED26SP2LTitle: The Rivals of Versailles
Author: Sally Christie
Date finished: 4/8/16
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Pages in book: 448
Stand alone or series: #2 in Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

And you thought sisters were a thing to fear. In this captivating follow-up to Sally Christie’s clever and absorbing debut, we meet none other than the Marquise de Pompadour, one of the greatest beauties of her generation and the first bourgeois mistress ever to grace the hallowed halls of Versailles.
The year is 1745 and King Louis XV’s bed is once again empty. Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a beautiful girl from the middle classes. As a child, a fortune teller had told young Jeanne’s destiny: she would become the lover of a king and the most powerful woman in the land. Eventually connections, luck, and a little scheming pave her way to Versailles and into the King’s arms.
All too soon, conniving politicians and hopeful beauties seek to replace the bourgeois interloper with a more suitable mistress. As Jeanne, now the Marquise de Pompadour, takes on her many rivals—including a lustful lady-in-waiting, a precocious fourteen-year-old prostitute, and even a cousin of the notorious Nesle sisters—she helps the king give himself over to a life of luxury and depravity. Around them, war rages, discontent grows, and France inches ever closer to the Revolution.
Told in Christie’s celebrated witty and modern style, The Rivals of Versailles will delight and entrance fans as it brings to life the court of Louis XV in all its pride, pestilence, and glory.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I read the first book in this trilogy last year (also through NetGalley) and you can see my review of that one here. I really enjoyed reading the first book so I was excited when I saw the second book available recently on NetGalley! Also, this book will count towards my Book Riot 2016 Read Harder reading challenge, marking off the “read a book of historical fiction set before 1900″ since this book is set in the mid 1700’s. This book continues where The Sisters of Versailles left off, following Marie-Ann’s death. This book focuses around Jeanne -Antoinette Poisson, a commoner who is told by a fortune teller when she is young that she will someday be mistress to the king. Ever since that fateful day, her mother has focused on preparing Jeanne for one day meeting the king and becoming ensconced in his world. This means learning about this above their station, some of which Jeanne learns from her tutor Bernis after the king invites her to live at Versailles.
Unfortunately, Jeanne’s miscarriages make her sick and after 4 years of being King Louis XV’s mistress she is advised against getting pregnant again because it might kill her. Every one thinks that this means the end of Jeanne’s reign over the king’s heart but she somehow manages to stay the center of his life for the next 15 years, arranging ways for the king to exercise his lust (with others) without her losing her importance in his life. And while there are a number of threats over the years and no shortage of plotting on manipulation that must occur on her part, in the end she is the victor every time and maintains her friendship with the king. She becomes one of the most powerful women in the history of France because even though she isn’t physically intimate with the king he continues to use her as his most trusted adviser throughout their friendship.
Overall I really liked this book. I think that it is especially interesting because these books are based on real events. And I just love that the author’s site has pages talking about each of the characters in the book that reference where the information on their character came from and what historical basis exists for the events that happen in the book. Same as with the first novel, I didn’t want to put this book down. Everything that you could want in a book is in this story: sex, betrayal, intrigue, war, love, sickness, and death. The author did a great job in this novel of switching between points of view and she really brought the characters to life. I felt bad for Jeanne for most of the book, she spent her whole childhood with this idea that she would be mistress to the king and she loved him so much but she wasn’t able to be close to him in all the ways she wanted. Her character evolves in an interesting way through the course of the novel, she definitely changes and hardens over her life and the reader can see that clearly. Towards the end Louis’ tastes in girls become embarrassingly young and Jeanne is understandingly uncomfortable with the things she has to do to keep her position in Louis’ life secured but she does it anyways. I thought that was a strong example of how changed she is by her life at Versailles. Just overall an engrossing read.

The bottom line: Just an awesome read with everything a reader could want from a novel. I didn’t want to stop reading this one for even a minute, can’t wait for the third book in the trilogy to be released! Great read!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book # 92 – Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie

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Title: Sisters of Versailles
Author: Sally Christie
Date finished: 8/31/15
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Pages in book: 432
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A sumptuous and sensual tale of power, romance, family, and betrayal centered around four sisters and one King. Carefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed.
Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear.
Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters—Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne—four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail.
Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best foot—and women—forward. The King’s scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, the four sisters—sweet, naïve Louise; ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne—will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power.
In the tradition of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Based on meticulous research on a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie’s stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood—of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

My rating: 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for ARC August reading challenge, it wasn’t included on my sign up post but it will be my last book for the challenge. I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book is about the five Mailly Nesle sisters, four of whom were mistresses of King Louis XV, the fifth deciding to stay loyal to her husband, which appears to be rare for this time period. Louise is the eldest sister and a couple years after she marries she inherits a position in the Queen’s court. It is there that she meets the King and becomes his mistress. The next two eldest girls, Pauline and Diane, are sent to a convent after the death of their mother. The two youngest, Hortense and Marie-Anne go to live with their aunt after their mother’s death.
I loved this book. I thought it was extremely interesting, it was hard for me to put down. And I think that it is even cooler that it is based on actual events from the 1700’s. Since this is fiction not everything from the story is factual but there were actually 4 sisters who all slept with the same King apparently. I don’t want to give away too much from the story line so I won’t say much about the actual plot but there is enough romance, intrigue, love, revenge, death, and power to make all kinds of readers happy. I thought this was a great book and I can’t wait to see more from this author!

The bottom line: I very much enjoyed this book, it was full of power, intrigue, revenge, and love. I would definitely recommend!!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page