With a particular eye to the beauty and mystery of flowers and also an understanding of the powers they hold, young Rinette Leslie of Granmuir, Scotland becomes the unlikely and reluctant confidant of Queen Mary of Guise. But Rinette's only wish is to marry her childhood sweetheart and to return to her beloved homeland. Instead, she's caught up in a court intrigue that will affect her life and those she loves for many years to come.
In the sweeping new novel from the author of The Second Duchess, dangerous secrets lead a passionate young woman into a maze of murder and conspiracy as Mary, Queen of Scots, comes home to reign in a treacherously divided Scotland….
With her dying breath, Mary of Guise entrusts a silver casket to Rinette Leslie of Granmuir, who possesses the ancient gift of floromancy. Inside the casket, and meant only for the young Mary, Queen of Scots, are papers the old queen has painstakingly collected—the darkest secrets of every Scottish lord and explosive private prophecies prepared by Nostradamus. Rinette risks her life to keep the casket safe, but she makes a fatal mistake: she shows it to her beloved young husband. On the very day the young queen comes home, Rinette’s husband is brutally assassinated.
Devastated, Rinette demands justice from the queen before she will surrender the casket. Amid glittering masques and opulent weddings, courtly intrigues and Highland rebellions, the queen’s agents and Rinette herself search for the shadowy assassin. They are surrounded by ruthless men from all over Europe who will do anything to force Rinette to give up the casket—threatening her life, stripping her of her beloved castle by the sea, forcing her to marry a man she hates, and driving her from the man she has reluctantly grown to love. In the end, the flowers are all she can trust—and only the flowers will lead her safely home to Granmuir.
Publisher: New American Library
Author: Elizabeth Loupas
Author's website: http://elizabethloupas.com
A Bit About the Author:
Elizabeth Loupas lives near the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. She is presently a novelist, freelance writer and amateur historian. In other times and other places she has been a radio network vice president, a reference librarian, a business-to-business magazine editor, and a tutor in English literature.
One of her passions is the art and poetry of the Pre-Raphaelites. This led her to the Rossettis and the Brownings, and the project nearest and dearest to her heart--her novel THE SECOND DUCHESS, based on Robert Browning's poem "My Last Duchess."
She hates housework, cold weather, and wearing shoes. She loves animals, gardens, and popcorn. Not surprisingly she lives in a state of happy barefoot chaos with her delightful and faintly bemused husband (the Broadcasting Legend), her herb garden, her popcorn popper, and two beagles.
You can find Ms Loupas's blog at: http://www.elizabethloupas.com/blog/
*Note: You'll find some more very interesting things here about "The Flower Reader" and a experience the very active sense of humor of Ms Loupas!! :]
The Dame's Review:
I enjoyed this book immensely. From start to finish I found Rinnette one of the most engaging and feisty of heroines historical fiction has offered in a good while. There are many strong historical women characters in recent historical fiction I've had the pleasure of reading, and I'm not meaning to take my praise from them. However, the character of Rinnette bursts forth from the start, showing her strong resolve to keep herself, her loved ones, her property and her resolve under murderous pressures! I loved her brave spirit and her willingness to stare down death and queens despite her youth, power and lack of weapons. Because of this beautiful, mystically talented and unabashedly strong woman this novel is one of my favorite historical novels this season.
Rinnette is a brilliant character who will endear herself to readers and keep you hungry to finish her story.
Played out on the world stage of the courts where such historic figures reigned such as Queen Mary of Guise, Mary Queen of Scots and the Scottish clans...not to mention such notables as Nostradamus,
Elizabeth Queen of England, and Catherine de Medicis, this is a tapestry of time and
intrigue that is absorbing in and of itself. Elizabeth Loupas has then laid a set of secrets and mysteries that rival the CIA! It's a plot that kept me reading, and that moved at a steady, rapid pace.
I appreciated her writing style and her development of a world within the real world with adjunct characters that didn't really exist but seemed plausible!
The relationships between her characters; Rinnette with her husband and her children, for instance, was palpable, striking at my heart strings. I felt a deep sense of loss with her at times, and a joy at other times. Ms Loupas has a strong gift of portraying emotion and personal relationships that gives her book depth and character.
I really loved the element of the flowers and Rinnettes "reading" of them at every bend as she encountered friend and foe. This added a dimension to the book unlike any other historical fiction I'd read, obviously! In her section at the back of the book, Ms Loupas is interviewed about this element and she gives the history behind flower "discernment." I found it fascinating. The connection with herbal healing as we know it today and our use of "diffusion" for different states of relaxation and such, show us some small connection to the practice Rinnette must have been using.
On a deeper level, and with a immediate mystical response, Rinnette was a master "flower reader" foretelling the future constantly...it was so exciting to read this part of Elizabeth Loupas's story.
In summary, a great book of historical fiction which I absolutely adored reading. I highly recommend it to all lovers of the genre, and to others of you who are thinking of taking a step into historical fiction. It is a mystical, feminist, mystery and family dynamic of a book. Great reading!
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