The French Mistress ~ Susan Holloway Scott

Publisher: NAL Trade
Pages: 377
Year: 2009
Rating: «««

Book Blurb:
The daughter of a poor nobleman, Louise leaves the French countryside for the court of King Louis XIV, where she must not only please the tastes of the jaded king, but serve as a spy for France. With few friends, many rivals, and ever-shifting loyalties, Louise learns the perils of her new role. Yet she is too ambitious to be a pawn in the intrigues of others. With the promise of riches, power, and even the love of a king, Louise creates her own destiny in a dance of intrigue between two monarchs-and two countries.

Louise de Keroualle is the daughter of an impoverished French nobleman, who leaves her families country chateau to serve in the house of Madame D’Orleans, who also happens to be the beloved sister of King Charles II of England. She also happens to be the wife of the sadistic, cruel brother of King Louis XIV of France. Louise is depicted as a virtuous young lady, a rare commodity in Louis XIV’s court, who is dedicated to not only protecting her virtue but also protecting her mistress, Henriette from her evil husband.  Louise and Henriette form a close bond – a bond that resulted in a trip to the English court for Louise with Henriette to visit her brother the King. Upon their return to France, Henriette dies suddenly and mysteriously. Louise is ultimately sent back to the English court by Louis himself where she becomes maîtresse en titre to the King.

My thoughts:
This was not only my first novel written by Susan Holloway Scott, but it was also my first novel revolving around the life of Charles II of England. I had no idea that this in fact is a part of a series about Charles II’s mistresses.

I found the story to be well written and definitely an interesting read. I really enjoyed the first part of the book, Louise’s life at the French court and hers and Henriette’s trip to the English court, however after that … it started to die.

There were a few problems that I had with this book, and both occur once Louise returned to England after Henriette’s death.  First, it dragged . . . it took forever for Louise to finally succumb to King Charles II’s wills to become his mistress, and then the last 100 pages where Louise recounts Charles’ seamlessly endless problems with parliament never seemed to end.

Second, I really was not a fan of Louise once she returns to England. She all of a sudden became self-righteous, smug . . . and she wondered why nobody liked her – she thought she was better than them because she was French, and Catholic, and they were simply English and Protestant. Not to mention that she was extremely annoying, crying all of the time when things didn’t go her way. Plus SHE WAS A SPY!!! Seriously!!!

All of my complaining aside, the first half was great – a dazzling account of life in the French court and the English court as well (at least the first time Louise was there…). I loved the relationship between Henriette and Louise. There were detailed scenes and emotional dialogues. I don’t know if I would necessarily recommend this book, at least not very highly. I am going to give the author another chance. Hopefully her other books are more like the first half of this one. 

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