Before Versailles

Karleen Koen, Crown, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-0-307-71657-6
It's good to be the king, but also lonely and dangerous, according to Koen's lively historical about Louis XIV's efforts to establish himself as a model monarch. The novel begins in 1661, when Cardinal Mazarin's death leaves the superintendent of finance, Nicolas Fouquet, chomping at the bit to take over the most powerful job in France. Unfortunately for him, 22-year-old Louis relies on self-taught Jean-Baptiste Colbert rather than self-serving Fouquet, taking on royal cash-flow problems, civil strife, and international and bedroom politics, only to discover the greatest threat comes from within his own family. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Louise de la Baume le Blanc tries to keep the honor in maid-of-honor, not an easy task when serving Henriette d'Orleans, though Louise is far more interested in a mysterious boy in an iron mask. Thinking about Henriette, Louis comes across Louise. Thinking about the boy, Louise comes across Louis. The rest is history. Following solidly in the footsteps of Dumas, Koen (Dark Angels) reveals independent-spirited Louise to be a modern heroine in period costume, and, with her focus on the time just before Louis becomes the unrivaled Sun King, she finds the era ripe for intrigue and romance, not to mention possible sequels. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/07/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
Genre: Fiction
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