To Serve a King by Donna Russo Morin
ARC, Paperback, 384 pages
January 25, 2011
Source: Received from the publisher for review
“From her earliest days, Genevieve Gravois has known one fact above all: Francois I, king of France, is her enemy. Raised by her embittered aunt after her parents' deaths, Genevieve has been schooled in things no woman should know: how to decipher codes, how to use a dagger and a bow, and how to kill. For Henry VIII has a destiny in mind for the young girl--as his most powerful and dangerous spy.
I have read one other book by this author so far and this was an improvement over the last, you can certainly see this author’s growth over time. I loved this book - it was fast paced and carried your right along with the story. I enjoyed the fact that our heroine, Genevieve, is not a real historical character because I didn’t know what her story would be; every turn of the page was a surprise. To that end, the resolution of the novel was even more surprising and I certainly never would have guessed it! It was a wonderful closure to the story. Both of these elements that I point out above – the pacing and ending – were aspects that were greatly improved over the previous novel, The Secret of the Glass.
When the time is ripe, Genevieve enters the magnificent world of the French court. With grace to match her ambition, she becomes maid of honor to Anne de Pisseleau, King Francois's mistress. Yet neither the court--which teems with artistry and enlightenment as well as intrigue--nor Francois himself are at all what Genevieve expected. And with her mission, her life, and the fate of two kingdoms at stake, she will be forced to make deadly decisions about where her heart and her ultimate loyalties lie.”
I loved getting to know the French court of Francois and the Duchesse de Etampes. I had previously met these characters before in novels about Catherine de Medici, but never had they been major characters for me. The characters were so well constructed, even all of the ladies who were a part of the Duchesse’s retinue. It was nice to see attention paid to the details here. I also enjoyed seeing the factions that occurred in court: the Duchesse and Francois vs. Henri and Diane de Poitiers vs. Catherine de Medici and Queen Eleanor. Morin writes some beautiful characters to be sure.
One of my favorite aspects was the spy/intrigue storyline. I hadn’t put too much thought into this happening as a daily aspect of life in the courts. I knew that everyone had the eyes and ears everywhere, but that was the extent of it for me. From all of my reading set in the courts of Henry VIII, Francois I, and Charles V, I could sincerely believe that these events would have occurred, based on their personalities.
I can’t wait to read more by this author.
Donna Russo Morin also has written The Courtier’s Secret, The Secret of the Glass, and The King’s Agent. You can visit Donna’s website for additional information about the books. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?
My other reviews of books by this author:
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