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Koen’s latest book tackles a short period in the life of a young Louis XIV. Cardinal Mazarin is dead, and Louis is now in control of the government – a government seriously short of cash – although the Superintendent of Finances sure does have a pocketful of it. Louis is newly married to Maria Teresa of Spain, but at the moment he only has lust eyes for his brother’s new wife, Henriette (sister to Charles II) and Henriette definitely reciprocates the lust feelings.

Meantime Louise de La Vallière, one of Henriette’s ladies in waiting, becomes involved in the mystery surrounding a young man whose face is hidden behind an iron mask. What, if any connection is this young boy to the royal family, and why is someone so desperate to keep his existence a secret?

Yep, there’s a whole lot more to it than that but I’ll not spoil, although if you are familiar with it all you know where Louise’s story goes from here…Despite a set of circumstances that promises a deliciously meaty, scandalous read, I found this rather underwhelming, especially coming from the author who gave us Through a Glass Darkly (on my all time favorites list). The characters were all rather flat and lifeless (even Philippe and de Guiche were not as hateable as they should be), and there was definitely not much chemistry between Louis and Louise. The repetitive sentences drove me seriously batty,

The handsome young king of France was hesitant before her. The handsome young king of France desired her. The handsome young king of France loved her.

In the end, this isn’t a bad book by any means, but it doesn’t have the kind of punch Louis and his love life deserves. I have read the entire Musketeer series by Alexandre Dumas (part of which tells of the relationship between Louis and Louise as well as his own take on the Man in the Iron Mask), and I couldn’t help comparing his take on the characters as opposed to Koen’s, and Dumas definitely wins out. Library only, then buy it if you love it.

Interested in trying the Dumas books? Here’s the series in order and they are available free on Kindle. Can’t speak for the quality of the translation on these so enter at your own risk (they are free after all), but if you’re looking for a dead tree version I’d recommend the Oxford World’s Classics Editions.

The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Louise de la Valliere and The Man in the Iron Mask.

FTC? I obtained my copy via my county library.

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