Châteaux and Shadows
Louis XIV is the king of France. He has been since he was five, but now that his advisor the Cardinal Mazarin has died. Louis has taken the reins of power and directs his country in an unprecedented way. He is only in his twenties: handsome, athletic, seductive, rich, and powerful. After the betrayal by his nobles and even his family when he was a child, he holds his courtiers close, controls their movements, and watches them for signs of sedition. And yet it's a big country and there are too many nobles to keep his thumb on all of them. There are many liars and game-players who will do anything to get ahead, get rich, gain influence, and get revenge. There are Châteaux and Shadows outside his control.
My Châteaux and Shadows series comes to you courtesy of my publishers, The Wild Rose Press.
And a thousand thanks to my editor, Nan!
The Indispensable Wife
1666: Aurore was delighted when a marriage was arranged with the boy she loved, her older brother’s friend Dominique, Comte de Bures. But in a few years the first rush of joy has worn off, and their promising life seems ruined by loss, betrayal, and misunderstanding.
One terrifying morning mercenaries overrun their château and usurpers take Aurore hostage. Miles away at Versailles, where he is required to dance attendance on Louis XIV, Dominique is nearly killed by a crossbow bolt.
Escaping, Aurore travels with a troupe of itinerant musicians, hiding in the open while discovering hidden resources within herself.
Dom sets out to find his wife. He needs his old life back. He needs revenge. But his lands, his title, and his honor mean nothing unless he can win back the love of his indispensable wife.
Book 1: Châteaux and Shadows
The Honorable Officer
1668: Hélène de Bonnefoi’s spirit has been squashed by the ever-critical aunt and uncle who raised her. Serving as nanny and stand-in mother to her cousin’s child has saved her from the convent, especially after her cousin’s death. When suspicious accidents threaten the toddler, Hélène overcomes her debilitating near-blindness to seek the help of the child's father, a colonel in Louis XIV’s army.
Jean-Louis, Colonel de Cantière, has spent his life proving his worth, integrity, and honor, first to his family and now in the army. When his daughter’s caretaker appears in his camp during a siege, claiming someone is trying to kill the girl, his loyalties are sorely tested.
Hélène must convince Jean-Louis the threat is real. But the true danger is to the heart of a shy young woman who has always loved her cousin’s husband from afar and to the colonel’s desire to resist complicated emotions.
Book 2: Châteaux and Shadows
1678: Emmanuel, Chevalier de Cantière, youngest son of a baron, is happiest raising horses far from his complicated family. When news comes his mother is deathly ill, he races to her side only to find she has recovered and moved on, leaving behind her companion.
Catherine de Fouet blends into the background, saving up so she'll never have to wait on waspish, scheming old ladies like the baronesse again. She has no interest in a resentful gentleman, estranged from his mother, no matter how broad his shoulders or intriguing the wounded soul behind his handsome face. She just needs someone to escort her back to Versailles.
But Catherine is suspected of poisoning the baronesse. She rebuffs a pushy courtier who tries to use blackmail and bad poetry to make her his mistress. Her reputation hangs by a thread.
The Chevalier wants more than anything to protect this woman whose prickly exterior hides sweetness and passion. They need his family to help them through court intrigues--almost as much as they need each other.
Book 3: Châteaux and Shadows
Henri et Marcel
When their orderly world falls apart, love is the base on which they rebuild.
Henri de Cantière has been surly since he returned from visiting his family at Versailles, but doesn’t want to burden Marcel Fourbier, his longtime lover, with his problems. He can’t sleep and hurts all over at exactly the time when everything else seems to be falling apart.
Marcel can barely keep up with his usual duties of running their household and creating beautiful furniture in the de Cantière factory, then more burdens fall on his shoulders. His estranged Huguenot family condemns him to hell but wants his help, a man attacks him in a dark street, an arsonist tries to destroy the factory, and Henri’s beloved sister-in-law, the lady who has been like a sister to Marcel, has been in labor for several days and is weakening.
Most of all, Marcel wants to cure Henri, the man who holds his heart.
A novella. Book 4: Châteaux and Shadows
Lucas de Granville—pious, respectable, impoverished, lonely—will do nearly anything for the godfather who raised him, even though his godfather doesn’t seem to want to do anything for him.
Melisande—mundane, illegitimate, dirt poor, lonely—will do nearly anything to make sure her mother and brother have shelter and food, even though they are critical of her lack of magical talent.
When Melisande’s father, a pious comte, sends his godson Lucas to bring her to Versailles and help him train her to be a fine, staunchly religious lady, their attraction is immediate, but so is their distrust.
Her eagerness to get as much money as she can as quickly as possible gradually changes into a wish for something higher, better, and holier. Something that Lucas can help her achieve: love.
Book 5: Châteaux and Shadows