Dear Ms. Riley,
I spent my formative romance reading years devouring the “Angelique” series which begins in 17th century France at the court of the Sun King and have enjoyed movies using this time frame. So, when this book was mentioned at AAR after someone posted asking for books which are rich in period detail and historically accurate, I took notice.
The time and the background (during the reign of the Sun King and involving the Parisian underworld of poisoners and the occult) sounded intriguing. Genevieve Pasquier is an engaging lead character. The daughter of a loveless marriage in a time during which women have little if any power or control over their lives and smart women are a nuisance, she manages to gain wealth and independence. La Voisin, a real life person, grooms her to present herself as the 150 year old reader of an oracle glass, a sort of scrying bowl in which the future can be seen. Genevieve thinks it’s all a crock but goes along with it. Along the way, she will see the worst in humanity, manage to find her true love and barely escape with her life.
Written mainly in first person, it does a great job with the details and historical “feel,” and has a dry, subtle wit that I enjoyed. There are parts dealing with the witches that are a bit icky (the ultimate fate of the heroine’s thoroughly nasty uncle is one) that might best be skipped if readers have a queasy tummy and the nonchalant attitude towards Black Masses of La Voisin will send a chill down anyone’s spine.
But if people are looking for something slightly different, though not a true romance book, this one is worth a look. B+