Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Review: The Making of a Duchess by Shana Galen
Paperback, 384 pages
Book Source: Sourcebooks
My Rating: 96/100
About the book:
Twelve years after fleeing their burning chateau, Julien Harcourt, Duc de Valère, searches for his lost twin brothers. His frequent travels between England and France at a time when the exiled Napoleon is reported to be marshaling his troops raises the suspicions of English authorities who set secret operative Sarah Smith on his trail. A risky game of cat and mouse leads the two from the ballrooms of London to the prisons of Paris and into a fragile love that neither dares to hope for… The first in a trilogy of three brothers struggling to reconnect and restore their noble heritage in the aftermath of the French Revolution, each losing his heart along the way.
Sara Smith is put into an impossible situation: she must spy on Julien Harcourt or else. This task is for King and country, but she is not accustomed to lying and spying. It's not her thing. Sara goes about her task the best she can, but the Duc is an imposing, irresistibly cute gentleman. It is hard for the both of them to ignore the sparks that fly between them, whenever they spend any amount of time together.
Julien has fought hard to take care of his mother and rebuild the family fortune that was lost during the Revolution. The most important things to Julien are his family and their safety, hence his search for his lost brothers. If only Sara knew this, for they share the same wants, a family and sense of belonging. Julien and Sara are ideal for each other. They share the same beliefs of family and security, are strong determined people who stand up for what is right and fair, and both just want to be loved. How sweet is that?
Julien and Sara are two characters that had more oomph to them than your average romance novel. At least that was my take. Both have issues to deal with, more so than a usual romance novel, and both are very strong people. Sara is scared and a wee bit skittish in the beginning, but she soon gets herself together and goes about her business. Julien tries to do what "duty" and society expect him to do, but eveventually does what he thinks is right. Julien and Sara make a good match because they are equally strong in the story. That is what I liked so much about this book.
The story has a spy theme, so there is a lot of intrigue, and there were a few places where I had to read quickly because I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. There were adventures throughout the story and as a whole the novel had a fine pace. Galen paints an excellent picture of her setting as well. There were some grand society events, rides through London, and beautiful clothing described. All in all it made for a wonderfully exciting read.
There is one thing I should mention, although it is minor. There is a reveal at the end of the book, that at first, I thought was cliche. However, after consideration, the reveal goes with what I perceived as a fairy tale element of the story. The spy story, a girl from a humble background, boy and girl meet, fall in love, have adventures together....catch my drift? I don't want to give the story away, but the reveal totally makes sense. Besides, it's a romance novel! How could this detail not be included?
All in all I really fancied this story, and I look forward to reading the other two books in this trilogy. I also plan on reading Galen's previously published works as well. The woman writes a satisfyingly fun story!
Shana Galen's website: http://www.shanagalen.com/
My Rating: 96/100
2010 Challenges Met: 100+, Historical Fiction, Reading Romance
Thanks to Danielle from Sourcebooks for my review copy.
I am an Amazon Associate.