7th May 2015, Piatkus, Paperback, Review copy
Content: some violence, some romance, major peril, tissues needed
Summary from Piatkus
The gorgeous fourth novel from award-winning historical fiction author, Charlotte Betts, set in London and Paris during the time of the French Revolution.
1792. As a teacher at her parents' Academy for Young Ladies in the heart of London, Madeleine Moreau has lived her life sheltered from the outside world. But on the night of a dazzling Masquerade, tragedy strikes and she is left alone in the world. Desperate to find the family she never knew, Madeleine impulsively travels to France in search of them. But with war around the corner, and fearing for Madeleine's safety, the enigmatic Comte Etienne d'Aubery offers her shelter at his home, Chateau Mirabelle.
Chateau Mirabelle enchants Madeleine with its startling beauty, but it is a place of dark and haunting secrets. As the Revolution gathers momentum and the passions of the populace are enflamed, Madeleine must take control of her own destiny and unravel events of the past in order to secure a chance at future happiness.
This book took me by surprise. I was heavily intrigued as to how Madeleine ended up in a vaguely random chateau with someone she barely knew, and as her life crumbled around her I sat with tissues wishing that life was different. Madeleine has such a passion for life that I can't think of anyone who wouldn't like her. Okay, there are a few characters who don't, but they aren't compassionate people and they are selfish, egotistical and money hungry. They wouldn't dream of taking to the grapevines and nurturing grapes – getting their hands dirty isn't in their vocabulary.
Thankfully kindness and helping others is in the forefront of Madeleine's nature. She is happily optimistic, which is needed at more than once place in this book. I honestly thought that I'd struggle a bit with the historical side of things, that descriptions of places/events would drone on and there would be space between action. I didn't and there wasn't.
I was so keen to find out what happened next that descriptions whizzed by as I joined Madeleine in fleeing terrifying peril, trying to make a difference, and helping her best friend cope with her huge mistake. The deception and lies that are told will make you shake your fists in fury at certain characters, but trust me when I say that justice is extremely sweet at the end. This is staying firmly on my shelf for rereading, I'm glad I gave it a chance and I'll be keeping an eye out for more of Charlotte's books since they convey history at the side of a grand adventure.
Find out more on Charlotte's website.