Seventeen year old Jeanne du Bois returns from the convent where she’s been schooled the last seven years and joins her family at Versailles. Much to her father’s disapproval Jeanne is too independent and unladylike, and unbeknownst to him she resumes fencing lessons with her uncle Jules. After one of these lessons, Jules and Jeanne (who is dressed in men’s clothes), come across two of the King’s Musketeers under attack and save the day when they join in the battle. Not willing to reveal her identity as a women Jeanne is introduced as Jean Luc and as she wishes to join the Musketeers later she convinces her uncle to help her dress as a man. As Jeanne’s abusive father plots to marry her off to an odious Baron, she finds herself drawn to Henri, one of the Musketeers – who during a fete at Versailles meets Jeanne and he is instantly smitten. A plot to kill the Queen is revealed and Jeanne/Jean finds both identities in the thick of things while she tries to balance the two and avoid being exposed.
So why am I giving this one only two stars? For starters, Jeanne is just way over the top in her independence – let alone the ditzy way she came across in the first two chapters (argh, those curls always coming lose from her coiffure!!) and I was beginning to think I was in for Gidget does Versailles. I threw the book across the room at Chapter two, but picked it up again and things did improve. Jeanne’s ditzyness was toned down a bit, but as hard as the author tried to keep things realistic they just didn’t always ring true. Hiding her dress and under things underneath the stinking privy cover and they didn’t pick up any odor from it? She’s able to get her men’s boots off by herself, let alone dress herself and do her hair just in time to run to chapel? Then there was the garden party where she/he had to run and change clothes at least once and run back to present her/him back again at the party – again she can get those big old boots off and on all by herself.
Last complaint and again I appreciate the author taking the time and effort to pack plenty of history in her romance (and with a nod to M. Dumas, père), but it was all just a tad bit too heavy handed and I was beginning to feel like I was being clubbed over the head with it. In the end, it was a reasonably entertaining piece of fluff, nice to have a romance set somewhere else besides the Regency period but I do want to warn potential readers, according to the author’s notes at the end she wrote this as a historical novel and not a romance. So, despite appearances and the impression the cover gives, this is not a bouncy bodice ripping novel packed with sex and I suspect serious romance readers will be sorely disappointed, as will serious historical fiction readers – for those I’d recommend just sticking with Dumas and read his Musketeer series.