The Courtier's Secret

The Courtier's Secret

4.5 17
by Donna Russo Morin

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France, 1680. Louis XIV, the Sun King, is at the height of his power. The court at Versailles is a paradise for privileged young women. Jeanne Yvette Mas Du Bois is unlike most other courtiers. Her thirst for knowledge often incurs her father's brutal wrath. But her uncle encourages Jeanne's independence, secretly teaching her fencing in the palace's labyrinthine…  See more details below


France, 1680. Louis XIV, the Sun King, is at the height of his power. The court at Versailles is a paradise for privileged young women. Jeanne Yvette Mas Du Bois is unlike most other courtiers. Her thirst for knowledge often incurs her father's brutal wrath. But her uncle encourages Jeanne's independence, secretly teaching her fencing in the palace's labyrinthine basement. . .

When two of the king's Musketeers are beset by criminals who are mere feet from Jeanne's fencing lesson, she intervenes, saving one of the Musketeers' lives. Hidden behind her mask, Jeanne is mistaken for a man. As "Jean Luc," Jeanne is admitted to an inner circle where she learns of an assassination plot against the Queen. As Jean Luc, she is permitted to bring her intelligence and swordsmanship to bear. And as Jean Luc, she is free to love the man of her choosing. . .even if she can never have him. Now, with the Queen in jeopardy, and her own double life making her privy to the tangled intrigues at court, Jeanne is in a powerful--yet increasingly perilous--position.

Brimming with lush period detail and vivid, unforgettable characters, The Courtier's Secret takes readers into a fascinating, intriguing world of pageantry, adventure, betrayals, and secrets.

"Exquisitely done. . .fabulous. . .unforgettable characters." --Marilyn Rondeau

"Compelling. . .brings vividly to life the constrained life of the noble Frenchwoman." --Allie Bates, author of Earthchild

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Kicked out of the convent at seventeen, Jeanne Du Bois, the heroine of Morin's uneven historical, returns to Louis XIV's court only to rebel against her father's plans to marry her off to a fop. With training and a false moustache provided by a sympathetic uncle, Jeanne disguises herself as Jean-Luc, a gifted swordsman who fights alongside musketeers Henri and Antoine. She leads a tricky double life, particularly when, dressed as Jeanne, she wins Henri's heart and helps him uncover a threat to the queen. Morin fills her tale with maidens, mistresses and musketeers mired in intrigue, but her attempts to heighten dramatic intensity prove artificial: Jeanne's father is not only tyrannical, he's abusive; royal mistresses are not only conniving, they're murderous; and Jeanne's visit to a courtesan for advice seems particularly contrived. The novice novelist makes up for such simplistic technique by supplying lots of action, as Jeanne goes through quick costume changes, one minute a voluptuous virgin about to be raped, another a daring do-gooder, rapier in hand. (Feb.)

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Product Details

Publication date:
Wolf Tales Series , #8
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520 KB

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Courtier's Secret 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
When Jeanne Du Bois turned seventeen, the convent where she lived for a decade kicked her out due to a lack of payments by her odious dad. She goes to the court of the Louis XIV in Versailles, where her family is in attendance as part of the Sun King¿s retinue. Her abusive father Gaston decides to marry her off to some pathetic noble over the objection of his wife Adelaide whom he considers a womb-loser; however her Uncle Jules encourages her to be all that she can be. He gives her fencing lessons, male garb and a mustache. Ergo Jean-Luc is born.

Jean Luc joins the musketeers as a loyal comrade to Henri and Antoine. Meanwhile Jeanne falls in love with her brother in arms Henri; he reciprocates though remains ignorant that Jeanne is Jean. As Jean-Luc turned to Uncle Jules, Jeanne turns to courtesan Madam de L¿Enclos for advice with men. However, as she struggles with both identities, she learns of a plot to assassinate Queen Marie-Therese. The three musketeers vow to save their queen even at risk to their lives.

The spins to this engaging seventeenth century Musketeer romance are the gender bending Jeanne and the fact most of the support cast including the heroine¿s father are nasty hedonistic sociopaths although there are those who are kind to Jeanne like her uncle and courtesan. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Uncle Jules trains his niece and never slows down as Jeanne falls in love when she was a young man.

Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great piece of historical fiction with descriptions you can practically taste and a spunky heroine that you want to befriend. My only complaint is that it ended too abruptly. It suddenly ended and I wanted to stay in the world, but honestly, it didn't feel completely resolved.
somanybooksnotenoughtime More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book because I live in the same town as the author and read about it in a local publication. This genre is a favorite of mine and Donna Russo Morin did a wonderful job. The vivid descriptions had me feeling as though I was right there in the middle of it. Fast paced with just the right amount of intrigue. Couldn't put it down.
book_love24 More than 1 year ago
I was pleasantly surprised to find this book online, a book type I generally enjoy reading. I was a little worried that it might be a bit dry, as are many of the historical literature that aren't a little on the trashy romance side- but BOY WAS I SURPRISED. Upon picking up "The Courtier's Secret" this morning I fell in love with the character, Jeanne. She's a spunky, spirited woman(I say woman because she is no girl) who knows how to get what she wants out of life, no matter the risk. Loyal, driven, charming and adventurous- every part of Jeanne (aka Jean-Luc) enhanced the well written and exciting plot. Jeanne and Henri's great romance left me grinning with it's originality, realism, sweetness and the touches of passion that left me satisfied without all the details were a rare but wonderful find. Everything about this book was a success- I wish it was easier to find great books like this! A must read.
Melissa_Christensen More than 1 year ago
Donna Russo Morin's extensive research pays off, as this novel is rich in period imagery. The colors, textures, and customs described transport me to Louis XIV's Versailles - without having to endure wearing a corset! The main character, Jeanne, is one of my favorite main characters. She is a strong female character who challenges the gender roles of her time. Feeling doomed by an impending arranged marriage orchestrated by her overbearing father, Jeanne disguises herself as a man to become part of the Musketeers. As a Musketeer, Jeanne feels the power that does not exist for a woman of her time. But as herself, she channels this power into her personal life, despite the trouble it causes her. The Courtier's Secret is a vibrant and enjoyable novel. For those that love historical fiction and engaging characters, Donna Russo Morin's novel is for you.
RobinKall More than 1 year ago
Magnifique!! Donna Russo Morin's debut novel is a delightful dance through the decadent Louis XIV era. The Courtier's Secret is intoxicating! Russo has done her homework- the story moves quickly as the reader zips through this well researched time period. Ooh,la la -Let them eat cake!!

Robin Kall
Host - Reading With Robin
Marilyn_Rondeau More than 1 year ago
Sent home from the convent the rebellious young Jeanne Yvette Mas Du Bois found the useless life in the court of King Louis XIV to be repugnant. Jeanne¿s father despised her independent and rebellious nature. Jeanne¿s greatest desire had been to become a Musketeer. Her beloved uncle Jules, one of the king¿s fencing partners, was teaching her to fence in the labyrinth of the castle where her natural fencing abilities were honed to a fine edge. While practicing with her uncle, a commotion outside their door drew their attention. Discovering two Musketeers outnumbered by masked assailants Jeanne jumped into the fray and saved the life of Henri Boucher D¿Aubigne. Still masked Jeanne accepted the thanks of Henri who admired Jean Luc¿s (a hastily made up name) fighting ability and invited `him¿ to become his protégé. Knowing that this would be an opportunity to ¿live¿ before her despicable father completed his plans to marry her off to a simpering sycophant, Jeanne disguised herself as a man and grasped the opportunity. Though she could disguise her appearance to look and fight like a man, Jeanne had more trouble hiding her growing love for Henri as treachery and danger swirled about them.

*** This debut novel by Donna Russo Morin is one of the most exciting and exquisitely penned pieces of genuine historical romance I¿ve read in a long time. Impeccably researched one can easily become immersed in the hedonistic and promiscuous lifestyle that abounded in Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV. Ms. Russo-Morin¿s prose and detailed research is pure brilliance and can easily be compared to the some of the first ladies of the genre including the late Kathleen Woodiwess and Virginia Henley. One can only applaud Russo Morin for making this story exciting, adventuresome and romantic without using explicit sexual scenes between the two leads.

The heroine Jeanne was portrayed as an absolutely marvelous character and her rebelliousness came through remarkably well without her being seen as an obnoxious brat. Rather, Jeanne was portrayed kindly, loving and compassionate to her two best friends while showing extreme strength when standing up to her hateful and cruel father.

The secondary characters, real and fictionalized were blended in perfectly with the story letting the reader see the beauty and pageantry at the court of Versailles, right along with the pettiness, gluttony, waste and ruthlessness of those jostling for position to the King. The details of that period were absolute eye-openers and for me, thoroughly enjoyable.

Bottom line ¿ This is in my mind an elegantly drawn story of fact and fiction sure to please the most discriminating lovers of historical romance.

Marilyn Rondeau, Official Reviewer for
Allie_Bates More than 1 year ago
Against the backdrop of the Sun King's court, Donna Russo Morin's THE COURTIER'S SECRET chronicles with compelling authority the story of Jeanne Yvette Mas du Bois. Morin brings vividly to life the constrained life of the noble Frenchwoman, and wraps one rebellious girl's refusal to conform in historical detail a la Robert Louis Stevenson's The Black Arrow--with a twist. The heroine trapped in her era rises to the challenge of her life, and becomes fully dimensional, unforgettable in her desire to be more than her era allows
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just wanted to ask who wanted lend this book to me please ?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite books of all time.
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MamaBearStamps More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much, and have re-read my favorite moments several times since finishing it last week. I appreciate the decorum placed on the romantic scenes, which seems to be synonymous with historical fiction these days. I also appreciated the nod to Dumas, one of my favorite authors. I do think the book ended quickly, but I thought it was fine. I would've liked a bit more story at the end about some of the other characters and how they fit into the story's future, but that's alright. The lead characters were wrapped up well. I highly recommend this novel and plan to read Morin's other novel ASAP.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a chore for me to get through Courtier's Secret. It had the most exhausting descriptions I can recall ever reading. I skipped paragraphs at a time and still didn't miss any important details. I couldn't finish it fast enough...not because it kept my attention but for the exact opposite. It dragged on and on; I just wanted it over. The ending was quite predictable. However, it seemed to end quite abruptly especially for an author who is superfluous with words and descriptions. It was quite astonishing with all the events unfolding that I never felt a true sense of urgency or suspense. I was reading about impending danger but yet did not feel it. Not only will I not recommend this book but I strongly discourage anyone from reading this book.