[Review] Daughter of the King by Kerry Chaput

Publisher and Publication Date: Black Rose Writing. December 16, 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 248.
Format: Paperback.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback from Black Rose Writing. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction, especially France, and Canadian history.
Rating: Okay to good.

Daughter of the King is book one in the series: Defying the Crown.

Kerry Chaput’s website/ Facebook/ Instagram/ Goodreads.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

Link for the book @ Barnes and Noble.

To read more information about the Huguenot history: Huguenot Society of America.

Summary:

La Rochelle, France 1661. Isabelle is a Huguenot. Born Protestant in a land overpowered by Catholics, she has proof of her station branded onto her wrist. Huguenots, under the King’s reign, suffer persecution and lower-class citizenship unless they convert. While caring for her mother who has lost a husband to the rebellions, Isabelle works with friends to run an underground opposition.

When she isn’t sneaking through town with her closest friends, she’s secretly meeting a high-ranking Catholic soldier betrothed to a girl she’s known since childhood, but since the war, spits on her in the street. After all, Huguenots must remember their place. 

But when Isabelle saves a woman from assault in an alleyway—making the choice to out herself as a traitor to the King and the Catholics, she’s accused of a high crime. The only way to save herself is to flee, renouncing her religion and sailing across the world to New France as a potential bride for settlers. In fear for her life, Isabelle gets on the boat, venturing out for a new terrain of fur traders and grit, putting her homeland and convictions in the past as she finds her search for love and faith has just begun.

My Thoughts:

There are things I like about the book and things I dislike:

What I like:

1. Daughter of the King is a historical fiction story about a history that I didn’t know anything about. I have since read a little history on a few websites. The abuse, savagery, and wars between the Catholics and Huguenots happened in the 16th and 17th centuries. Many French citizens who were Huguenots left the country. In America, they mainly settled on the east coast. For example, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Virgina. Huguenots also settled in areas of Canada. For example, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Daughter of the King has led piqued my interest to read more about this history.
2. The lead character is Isabelle Colette. She is 19. She and her mother are all that is left of the family. Isabelle has an independent, defiant and fiery type personality. She is restless and wants to live a life outside the confines of her home, but outside there are dangers because of her Protestant faith. The start of the story, the plot, Isabelle, the graphic descriptions all drew me in immediately.
3. Despite the differences in opinions between Isabelle and her mother. I love the devotion and compassion Isabelle shows her mother.
4. Daughter of the King shows me the horrific plight of the Huguenots in France. Through graphic depictions of their abuse and sufferings I came to at least understand the horrors of that time.
5. Daughter of the King is an emotional, dramatic, and provocative story.

What I dislike about the story:

1. I feel that when there is a teeth clincher type story-which is a story with huge, dire, descriptive, graphic writing-I need a break. It is like eating a Thanksgiving meal and then being presented with an encore of more food, and more food, and more food. Pauses or rests in a busy story is important.
2. Oftentimes people feel they are in love when it is an illusion. What I am saying is a person feels they are in love with a particular person, but it is the idea of love or the idea of what they perceive that person to be. Love is a feeling that takes the longest to grow. Real love. A love of depth and devotion and commitment.
3. I wonder what this story would be like without the romantic entanglement (plural)? What if the focus had stayed on Isabelle and her religious belief? At the start of the story, she showed a determination and perseverance and loyalty to being a Huguenot. I understand her change, but I also understand how she feels in her heart. Instead, the story shifts to romantic interests and becomes clogged down-like being in a muddy pit.

[Review] The French Baker’s War by Michael Whatling

Publisher and Publication Date: Mortal Coil Books. April 18, 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: The paperback has 298 pages.
Format: E-book.
Source: I received a complimentary e-book from NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction. Readers of World War II and Holocaust stories.
Rating: Okay to good.

Link @ Amazon.

Michael Whatling’s Goodreads author page.

Summary:

Andre and Mireille Albert are husband and wife. They own a bakery. They have a young son named Frederic. The name of their bakery is Patisserie Saint-Lery. They live in the town of Saint-Lery d-Espoir’s place de villle in Occupied France.
On October 19, 1943, Mireille became missing. Andre found his son. He found a strange, young woman hiding, but his wife is gone. Andre doesn’t know what has happened? He doesn’t know what to do about his wife’s absence? He doesn’t know what to do about this new woman? Andre is shocked and fearful. He is aghast at what to do?
The story is a daily journal of this time period in the life of the Albert family and the new woman whose name is Emilie.
The story is a mystery. For most of the story, the reader does not know what is going on in this family.
Andre and Mireille are a couple who are in partnership as husband and wife, as parents, and in their bakery. They are also a couple who are in love with one another. They are a close couple with a long history.

My Thoughts:

I have mixed feelings about this story. There are things I like about the story and things I dislike.

What I like:
1. The setting is in a small town in France.
2. I like the time period: World War II.
3. I like the married couple who are in love with one another. I like the long history they have. They are a respected and admired couple in town.
4. I understand the form of the story. I understand the plot.
5. This story is inspired by a true story.

What I dislike:
1. Andre is a loving husband and father. He is a respectable person. However, he is distraught through most of the story. And he is distracted. And he is at times frozen with the inability to make a decision. His behavior causes an annoyance and angst in me. I wish he had been a take charge person. I wish he’d been aggressive earlier in the story about a well-formed decision and carrying it out. I understand his character as the despondent husband, but I wanted more from him.
2. The story is filled with what if questions. What if a spouse goes missing, and a new character similar to the one missing shows up? What if both female characters are in trouble? What if feelings develop with the new character? What if this new person and the rest of the family bond? What happens if the missing person returns? The story is based on what ifs. What if is the foundation of the story. But it is that question that keeps me reading…that pulls me in.
3. The story does not have a satisfying or solid closure. I think that I know what happens but it ends loosely.
4. I’d like more of Mireille’s story. Her voice is in the first chapter. Emilie finally tells me her story. What about Frederic? I understand he is a child, but I’d like to have an area in the book where he narrates. His testimony is important.
5. For me there is something missing in this story. Yes, one of the characters is missing, but there is something else missing. Is it possible that the tone of the story: a frantic atmosphere of what ifs dominate the story so much that I am not pulled into the individual characters heartaches, fears, and ultimate decisions? Another words: the tone of the story rules.



(Review) Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe by Kevin O’Connell

Two Journeys Home

Publisher and Publication Date: November 2017.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 310.
Source: Complimentary paperback copy from Kevin O’Connell. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Good.

Summary:
It’s 1767. As the eagerly anticipated sequel to Beyond Derrynane begins, Eileen O’Connell avails herself of a fortuitous opportunity to travel back to Ireland. In Two Journeys Home, the O’Connells encounter old faces and new—and their lives change forever.

Her vivacious personality matched only by her arresting physical presence, Eileen returns to Derrynane this time not as a teen aged widow but as one of the most recognised figures at the Habsburg court. Before returning to Vienna she experiences a whirlwind romance, leading to a tumult of betrayal and conflict with the O’Connell clan.

Abigail lives not in the shadow of her sister but instead becomes the principal lady-in-waiting to Empress Maria Theresa.

Hugh O’Connell leaves behind waning adolescence and a fleeting attraction to the youngest archduchess when he begins a military career in the Irish Brigade under Louis XV. But more royal entanglement awaits him in France…

Author Kevin O’Connell again deftly weaves threads of historical fact and fancy to create a colourful tapestry affording unique insights into the courts of eighteenth-century Catholic Europe and Protestant  Ascendancy–ruled Ireland. Watch as the saga continues to unfold amongst the O’Connell’s, their friends and enemies, at home and abroad.

My Thoughts:
Two Journeys Home tells the history of Irish people in the courts of Austria and France. The male lead in the book is in the Brigade in these two European countries. This was an aspect of history I found interesting. It is also an interesting storyline, because the books I’ve read who have Irish characters are either in Ireland or they have emigrated to America.
Eileen is the female lead in the book. She is a strong character. Her stature and voice is remarked in terms of masculinity: a husky voice and broad shoulders. This is also an additional feature that is different in regards to books I’ve read where the female characters may have a strong personality but their size is petite.
The point of view in Two Journeys Home is third person. This is my least favorite way to tell a story. The external narrator tells me what is going on in every setting and with all the characters. As a result, I had a difficult time becoming swept up in the story.
I feel one of the intimate scenes in the book is verbose: “…highly athletic erotic experience both possessed, the night exploded in a dizzying blend of ….” Page 136. Just a few words expressing the wonder of the night is significant.
Overall, Two Journey’s Home is a readable story for historical fiction fans. For me, the point of view is not what I like, and this was the contributing factor in giving the story a good rating.

Kevin O'Connell

About The Author:
Kevin O’Connell is a native of New York City and the descendant of a young officer of what had—from 1690 to 1792—been the Irish Brigade of the French Army, believed to have arrived in French Canada following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October of 1793. He holds both Irish and American citizenship.

An international business attorney, Mr. O’Connell is an alumnus of Providence College and Georgetown University Law Centre.

A lifelong personal and scholarly interest in the history of eighteenth-century Ireland, as well as that of his extended family, led O’Connell to create his first book, Beyond Derrynane, which will, together with Two Journeys Home and the two books to follow, comprise the Derrynane Saga.

The father of five children and grandfather of ten, he and his wife, Laurette, live with their golden retriever, Katie, near Annapolis, Maryland.

Editorial Reviews:

O’Connell is a fantastic storyteller. His prose is so rich and beautiful it is a joy to read. The story is compelling and the characters memorable – all the more so because they are based on real people. . . I am Irish but I did not know about this piece of Irish history. It is fascinating but historical fiction at the same time . . . Highly recommended for historical fiction lovers!

(c) Beth Nolan, Beth’s Book Nook

I enjoyed the first part of the Saga awhile back . . . (and) couldn’t wait to continue the story of Eileen and her family . . . this author really does have a way with words. The world and the characters are so vivid . . . Overall, I was hooked from page one. I honestly think that (Two Journeys Home) was better than (Beyond Derrynane) – which is rare. The characters and world-building was done in such a beautiful manner . . . I can’t wait for the next one . . .

(c) Carole Rae, Carole’s Sunday Review, Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe . . . is a gripping story that will transport the reader back in time, a story with a strong setting and compelling characters . . . a sensational romance, betrayal, family drama and intrigue . . . The plot is so complex that I find it hard to offer a summary in a few lines, but it is intriguing and it holds many surprises . . .  great writing. Kevin O’Connell’s prose is crisp and highly descriptive. I was delighted (by) . . . how he builds the setting, offering . . . powerful images of places, exploring cultural traits and unveiling the political climate of the time . . . The conflict is (as well-developed as the characters) and it is a powerful ingredient that moves the plot forward . . . an absorbing and intelligently-crafted historical novel . . . .

(c) Divine Zapa for Readers’ Favourite

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