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Posted August 9, 2013
I read an early draft of this novel, and had been eagerly awaiting the final version, which does not disappoint in the slightest. Elza (aka Ida St. Elme, aka Charles van Aylde) is one of the most fascinating protagonists I've seen in years, and her journey through the bedrooms, battlefields, and esoteric salons of Napoleon's Europe is absolutely gripping. Graham writes the Napoleonic military life as well as anyone working today, and her depiction of the Grande Armée in quarters at Boulogne is spot on. The games of spy and counterspy, of love and war, passion and magic, will keep you engaged to the very end.
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Posted September 14, 2013
This book didn't flow. It didn't catch up to itself until the final chapters. It was choppy. Felt like reading a bad translation. The ebook also had numerous errors that contributed to the sense that the book was 'choppy' at best. I can't believe B&N had this book on recommended lists that were mailed to customers.
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Posted August 8, 2013
More of the adventures of the wonderful, complex, flawed, strong, immensely likeable Elza - who, like Graham's previous heroes and heroines, is a real historical character, if far less famous than Alexander or Cleopatra. Known as Ida St Elme, she not only had the career this book explores; but she's also the author of 8 volumes of Memoirs, which became the best-selling book of the early 19th-century in France and beyond, earning her the nickname of "the female Casanova". (And you can find her actual "Mémoires d'une Contemporaine", written in French, recently-added at Project Gutenberg!)
Courtesan, actress, medium, spy, soldier, wife, mistress, hostess, writer, this Dutch-born heroine lived through the French Revolution and the First Empire as a modern woman. Agent and counter-agent, she cross-dresses, fights, lies, reasons, sleeps her way through history, meeting a rich cast of characters whom, as a French reader, I recognise happily. This book, if anything, surpasses even the previous one - it can work as an into-the-deep-end introduction to the series, if you like to be plunged directly into the thick of things!
Now if only this series could be translated into French......
Posted August 8, 2013
No one does historical romance the way Jo Graham does. The characters, the settings, the action, it all combines into an epic story that places you directly in the era she's writing about. Strong female characters are a big part of what makes her books different, and this book is no different. Elza is a character who isn't afraid of violence and doesn't waste time being afraid of her own desires. At a time when women were subjugated and treated like second-class citizens, Elza was in complete command of herself and her world.
If you've read Jo Graham before, you know the great writing that awaits you in this book. If you're new to Jo Graham's work, be prepared for an introduction to one of the best historical writers publishing today.