Exhaustive descriptions of court protocol, meals and entertainments slow the narrative at times, but, all in all, this is a...

MISTRESS OF THE SUN

Gulland, author of a trilogy starring Josephine Bonaparte (The Last Great Dance on Earth, 2000, etc.), turns her attention to Louise de la Vallière, most beloved mistress of Louis XIV.

Louise, nicknamed “Petite” because of her slight stature, was born to lower nobility in Tours, France. From childhood she displays a love of horses, and she tames her unruly white stallion Diablo by dosing him with so-called “Bone Magic”—in effect “gentling” the beast by making a Devil’s bargain. This becomes the occasionally overworked motif of Petite’s later romantic career. Her father’s death and Diablo’s disappearance trigger the chain of events leading her into Louis XIV’s bed. Petite’s impoverished mother entrusts her to a convent, then reclaims her when marriage to a marquis improves her fortunes. The marquis’s household serves Gaston, Duc D’Orléans, and Petite becomes maid to Gaston’s daughter, Marguerite, whom Gaston hopes will marry young King Louis. When Louis weds a Spanish princess, Marguerite has to settle for a Medici. Chasing a runaway colt, Petite encounters Louis, mistaking him for a forest poacher. When he compliments her on her horsewomanship, she’s smitten. After Gaston dies without a male heir, his estate reverts to the Crown. Petite is called to the Sun King’s court to wait upon Henriette, wife of Philippe, Louis’s younger brother. Petite, slightly lame but an accomplished dancer, stars in Louis’s ballets. At first piously resisting their growing mutual infatuation, Petite succumbs when she’s again alone in the woods with Louis. From then on she walks a delicate political line at Court. Rudimentary contraceptive practices of the day fail. Keeping her pregnancies and confinement secret, she stoically bears Louis four children. Louis legitimizes the surviving two, making Petite a duchess. Petite’s chief rival for the king is someone she least suspects, who ensnares Louis by witchcraft—poetic justice for Petite’s dabbling in the dark arts.

Exhaustive descriptions of court protocol, meals and entertainments slow the narrative at times, but, all in all, this is a fine telling, bolstered by the strength and sensitivity of Gulland’s characterizations.

Pub Date: June 3, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7432-9887-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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