Shana Galen set The Making of a Duchess during the time of the French Revolution and the story skillfully combines the tragedy, loss, and romance.
The Making of a Duchess grabbed me from the start. It opens in France during the time of the French Revolution. Julien is the eldest of the Duke's three sons and he wakes up to the sound of peasants attacking their home. He runs to help his brothers and his mother but is surrounded by angry peasants -- some of which he's known all his life. Although Julien is able to escape, the violence and hatred of that night marks him forever.
He and his mother are able to rebuild their lives in England, but Julien cannot forget his brothers who might still be in France. Despite the danger, Julien plans visits to France to search for his brothers and help them escape. Julien is deeply committed to fighting the Revolutionaries who have taken so much from him and his family. When a young French aristocrat -- whose family barely survived the Revolution -- writes his mother, he is willing to marry the young woman. The mingling of noble French blood will be one more victory against the thousands of people that have tried to eradicate his family.
The young woman, Sarah Smith, is actually a governess who has been manipulated by her employer into acting as an amateur spy. Her mission is to pretend to be an escaped aristo and to find proof that Julien Harcourt is spying for France and against England. Her "handler" is brutal and mean -- and clearly dangerous.
As Sarah tries to fulfill her mission, she can't find proof of Julien's disloyalty. Instead, she is drawn to his sense of honor and kindness. But if they work together, they must still find a way to overcome the hostility and accusations from the spymaster that is Sarah's employer and handler.
The book is such a fun read. Each part develops the characters of Julien and Sarah so that I found myself cheering for them and hoping that they'd quickly find a way out of their dilemma. The plot twists, drama, and suspense all come together and make the most of the drama of the French Revolution. The Making of a Duchess is a thoroughly fun historical romance!
ISBN-10: 1402238657 - Mass Market Paperback $6.99
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (June 1, 2010), 384 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
About the Author:
Shana Galen is the author of five Regency historicals, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne's Bride. Her books have been sold in Brazil, Russia, and the Netherlands and featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston's inner city.
She now writes full time. She's happily married to an incredibly supportive man who she likes to call Ultimate Sportsfan, and they have a beautiful daughter and two spoiled cats. Visit Shana Galen's website at http://shanagalen.com/ to learn more about her, her writing, and to join the contest for a free copy of The Making of a Duchess.
Thank you so much to Danielle and SourceBooks for this review opportunity!