In 1792, Madeleine Moreau has a great life as a school teacher for her parents Academy For Young Ladies in London. Then tragedy strikes and Madeleine is left completely alone in this world. Determined to find her father’s family, she travels in France, where her father is from. But France is in turmoil and Madeleine soon finds herself taking refuge at Chateau Mirabelle with Comte Etienne d’Aubery. And as the French Revolution gathers momentum, Madeleine discovers that she must become the master of her fate if she ever wants to capture the happiness she dreams of gaining!
It was hard not to sympathize with Madeleine after her parents die. She is left all alone in this world and even her home is being taken away. The more I got to see through her eyes, the more I admired her. She was determined to find her father’s family, despite the bad blood that was evident in her father’s refusal to discuss them. I also really enjoyed her no-nonsense attitude when it came to Sophie and her affair. She is sympathetic, but wants her to see the reality of the situation. Overall, she was a character I enjoyed quite a bit more than I was expecting.
I was wary of the Comte d’Aubery from the first moment we were introduced to him, but he won me over after they traveled into France and he goes out of his way to protect the girls. He could have just let them go on their merry way without a care, but he makes sure they are safe while still being honest about the situation. Before the book was even halfway over, I was an anxious as Maddy to have Etienne confess the feelings we were almost certain he had for her.
I can’t get in depth about any of the other characters without spoilers, but I will say that something always felt a little off to me about the “bad” guy, even before the big twist was revealed.
I’ll admit that I was not overjoyed when this arrived on my doorstep. I love historical romance novels, but this looks (and is) more historical than romance. Historical tends to end badly and we all know how I feel about bad endings. But I endeavor to try to read everything that gets sent to me and so I started it, aiming to read a chapter or two a day. At first, that was all I’d read, sometimes only a single chapter because it was slow to start. The romance is definitely on the light side and even then, it was a very (very) slow boil. It was an interesting tale, but not one that grabbed my full attention immediately. About halfway through, things start to get really interesting and the last 100 or so pages were those amazing ones where you just can’t tear yourself away. You have to know what is going to happen and if Madeleine is even going to make it out alive, much less receive the happily ever after we all want for her.
I really have to thank Clara Diaz at Piatkus because I don’t think I ever would have ever picked this novel up on my own and I really enjoyed reading it. Even though I don’t usually venture into history that goes beyond the pretty ballgowns and the proper way to address a duke (because that is knowledge I will absolutely need in the here and now), I found myself rather fascinated with the historical aspect presented here. French during the revolution is not a place I’d ever want to really be, but through Madeleine’s eyes, I got to explore the beautiful and horrifying reality of that time. It’s also written in a readable way. The few historicals I have tried before this were always written in a stuffy manner that felt like the author was trying to beat me over the head with their abundance of knowledge rather than tell the story and that is blessedly absent here.
What do I want you to take away from this review? Maybe that sometimes stepping out of your reading comfort zone cane lead to good things. Also, that you should give this book a try if you are at all interested in a romance that burns slow but ends in a satisfying manner or have an interest in reading a realistic feeling account of the French Revolution!
****Thank you to Piatkus for providing me with a physical in exchange for an honest review****