Author: Hana Samek Norton
Published: July 2010 by Plume
Source: Crazy Book Tours
Description: In the last years of her eventful life, queen-duchess Aliénor of Aquitaine launches a deadly dynastic chess game to safeguard the crowns of Normandy and England for John Plantagenet, her last surviving son. To that end, Aliénor coerces into matrimony two pawns-Juliana de Charnais, a plain and pious novice determined to regain her inheritance, and Guérin de lasalle, a cynical, war-worn mercenary equally resolved to renounce his. The womanizing Lasalle and the proud Juliana are perfectly matched for battle not love-until spies and assassins conspire to reverse their romantic fortunes.
I Give This ...
I enjoy historical fiction, but admit that I'm not well rounded in it. I have a tendency to stick to British historical fiction because of my heritage. This one sounded interesting because it contains some familiar English figures, but it's set in France.
I do admit I had to constantly remind myself this was more to do with the French, especially since it has King John, and some of the book is set in England. I was very unfamiliar with many of the names of the characters and locations. I also wasn't sure how many of the characters were fictional and how many might have actually existed. Despite all this, I found that I really enjoyed the novel.
Juliana was an interesting character. There were times I couldn't quite tell if she was really naive or smarter than the times she lived in. She had a lot to deal with. She's a pawn in a bigger picture that even we can't see until the very end. But, she also tries her hardest not to be the pawn. She creates a life for herself, despite the efforts of her husband to keep her isolated.
Lasalle, I'm not even sure were to begin with him. For most of the book I despised him. I couldn't imagine a situation that he could come out in a better light. But, the story has such a twisted plot and it's never told from his point of view. In the end, I was stunned at what he was really trying to do all along. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is as it appears at first.
I really had no expectations when I started this book. I knew that quite a few people who enjoy historical fictions really seemed to like this one. But, I didn't want to get my hopes up. In the end, I had a delightful novel that I seemed to breeze through. And anyone who reads detailed and rich historical fiction might know this is hard to do.