The Dark Queen is a historical fiction covering the era of Catherine De Medici. I have never read much about her myself. However from what I know in history she’s been known to do some real evil nasty deeds that sometimes you have to wonder if she was a witch herself. I am not sure if she is..but I do know I wouldn’t want to meet her in a dark alley.
It tells the story of three sisters, the eldest, Ariane who has inherited the Faire Isle from her mother struggles with her position as Lady of Faire Isle, a rather stubborn suitor that doesn’t take no for an answer, two sisters who have issues of their own, a father who hasn’t come back yet, and a dark threatening Queen Catherine who plots from afar.
There is enough history and politics here to keep you very intrigued. France is in religious upheaval, Queen Catherine plots from behind the scenes, and of course, you have witch hunters. At first, I was a little skeptical as the book certainly starts off looking like a bodice ripping romance novel. Guy wants girl, girl can’t stand him, guy gets persistent..yeah you get the usual romance plot idea. However Susan Carroll adds a good amount of magic (magic being more of a wise woman sense not your fantastical kind..well sort of) and political plotting to keep you distracted enough to give the book a fair chance if you’re not a romance novel fan (like I am). There is a good amount of everything here in this book. Romance, action, fantasy, intrigue, and drama. I wouldn’t say there is much fantasy in it. Although the younger sister does talk to animals so I suppose you could say that’s fantasy wouldn’t you? In any case, there is enough of all the genres mentioned previously to keep you satisfied.
As I recall, I believe I have made myself clear that I cannot stand bodice ripping romances. I still do. I stay clear from them. Far far away. That doesn’t really mean that I’ll avoid romance altogether. I just don’t really like explicit scenes or stupid exchanges of body fluids when it’s not necessary. However there’s something else. It really all boils down to characters. If I feel that two characters are so right for each other, I let the romance pass through and I actually start to enjoy it. Ever read The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory? My God. I thought Arthur and Catalina were the Romeo and Juliet of the early Tudor era (I was going to say Brangelina..but I think Brad and Angelina make a horrible couple…my opinion of course, but hey..aren’t we straying from the conversation here?). Catalina and Arthur made such a great couple in my eyes I shed tears. Yes. Now I’m going to pretend I didn’t say that and pretend you didn’t read it. What I’m trying to say is, it’s the chemistry between the two characters. If they got it, it makes the romance in the book so much more easier to read.
Renard and Ariane are a couple that just “look” good together. I think it’s their personalities that make them both suit each other so well that you can’t help but just read on and hope they’ll work out their differences for that lovely happy ending. Each of the Cheney sisters have a romantic involvement, however that’s as far as I’ll go without going too much into detail. It’s Gabrielle I feel for the most though. As she went through a lot as explained in the beginning of the story. I like Renard though. Suave. Cool. Funny. Yet harbors a dark secret. In a minute he can sweep you away on his horse but when you ask questions, he’ll clam up. Remy, he’s like my other hero. He’s such a sweetheart and so noble he’s your typical knight in shining armor. *sighs* 😛 The three Cheney sisters are equally as charming. Although I find Gabrielle a little hard to like but she has her reasons as you’ll see when you read the book 😉
There is an explicit scene or two (romance wise) but nothing to really be bothered about it. Action wise, I don’t really see too many gory details but I have to admit the mysogyny displayed in Le Vis just makes you want to wring his neck until it breaks like a chicken. However I’m sure the sort of behavior displayed by the witch hunter is probably very real and frightening and it makes you learn how much people went through just because they were perceived as different. There will be other books following after this and I will be picking them up. There are some unanswered questions I would like answered!
I will definitely be reading the second book (The Courtesan) which will be featuring Gabrielle’s story. This is a book to pick up if you’re wanting a book with a little bit of everything but if you’re a romance lover yes, grab it. Renard and Ariane are perfect.
Overall I give it an 8 out of 10. (Now let me cry. Not because of sadness but because I’m feeling all lovey dovey now) 😀
I’ll leave you with an awesome quote though:
“If you ever seek to harm anyone under my protection or those whom I love, you will discover exactly how much of a witch I can be.”