Koen takes her readers into the fascinating, glittering, intrigue-ridden world of the French court with research so meticulous that every sight, sound, taste and passion become real. She brilliantly opens the door onto the world before Louis became the Sun King. Her strong heroine wins modern readers’ hearts and the colorful backdrop and finely tuned prose guarantee satisfaction.
At 22 Louis XIV became king, but before he rose to the stature of The Sun King he had to fight long and hard to retain rule of his country. His struggle to become a modern monarch begins with the death of his adviser, the powerful Cardinal Mazarin. The king then relies on Jean-Batiste Colbert to advise him on crucial issues.
Louis is a hedonist, taking what he wants, and when he desires his sister-in-law, Henriette d’Orleans, they begin a scandalous affair. At 16 Louise de la Baume le Blanc becomes maid of honor to Henriette; she struggles to keep her mistress happy and her own reputation intact. However, Louise is far more interested in the mysterious boy in the iron mask she sees in the forest than in court politics. Louis encounters Louise while dallying with Henriette and she encounters him in her search for the boy. As the intrigue mounts Louise and Louis become involved in uncovering the truth about the boy, evading threats from within and without the château Fontainbleau and one another. (CROWN, Jul., 480 pp., $26.00)