July 2024
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Review: To Serve a King, Donna Russo Morin

Genevieve, a gently born girl growing up in sixteenth century France, has been raised with the belief that her parents are dead, thanks to the French King Francois, and that her true loyalties lie with the English King Henry VIII. Her mission in life has always been to eradicate him, leaving the way open for Henry to reclaim France as his ancestors tried so many times. But when Genevieve is sent to the French court, she finds that things are not at all what she expected. Court intrigue is rife, true, but she begins to make friends and, worse, to get to know the king who has been turned into a villain by her aunt throughout her life. When the time comes to fulfill her mission, will she follow through?

Quite a few factors contributed to my enjoyment of this novel. To be honest, I was a bit wary of it before beginning; these days, there is far too much fiction centering on this period in history, but I immediately was drawn to the fact that it took place in France, not England, and that the heroine found herself with very torn loyalties. It’s always fascinating for me when a character in a book has cause to question beliefs she’s been indoctrinated with; I firmly believe that we should all question and learn things for ourselves, so I very nearly felt like applauding when she started to realize that things were not as they’d been portrayed.

Plus, I genuinely liked Genevieve as a heroine. She’s an attractive character who draws others in despite herself; she’s thoughtful, intelligent, but still prone to the foibles any teenager would suffer. She’s not all golden-hearted, either, because she can’t stand her ‘rival’ in the court and has some very dark thoughts. Her relationships with others are continually developing as they get to know her in ways that kept me turning the pages – I couldn’t wait to see how she’d react to the latest bit of knowledge. She also gets to know some very influential French figures, including not only the King as aforementioned but his mistress, Anne d’Heuilly, and encounters the prince Henri, his wife Catherine de Medicine, and his respective mistress, Diane de Poitiers. There were also a few heartrending moments in the book – they were towards the end, so I can’t elaborate, but have stayed with me since I finished reading.

Finally, the French court is magnificently depicted in this book. It’s full of descriptions of clothing, food, and behaviour that had me riveted and transported me to the period. Ever since I went to France, I have felt much more interested in fiction and non-fiction set in the country, and To Serve a King satisfied this craving on many fronts. It not only delivered that wonderful atmosphere, but an engaging story with a few twists, lively and sparkling characters, and very solid writing. I highly recommend this to historical fiction lovers everywhere.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from the author for review.


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