Now Face to Face

Now Face to Face

by Karleen Koen


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Now Face to Face by Karleen Koen

The unforgettable sequel to Karleen Koen’s beloved debut, Through a Glass Darkly

A Book-of-the-Month Club main selection

A bride at fifteen, widowed at the tender age of twenty, Barbara, Countess Devane, embarks for colonial Virginia financially ruined by the death of her husband in scandalous circumstances. Dressed in mourning as is proper for a woman, she is patronizingly described as a “fragile black butterfly,” but the fragility is deceiving. She makes a place for herself in the new world, takes lovers and friends across political divides, and questions the established traditions of slavery. Facing enemies she never suspected, she must return to England and deal face to face with the problems created by her husband, who haunts her even in death. Back in London, she quickly finds herself pulled into Jacobite plotting, and the treachery of powerful men suddenly threatens her family, her friends—and a new love.

Now Face to Face sweeps readers from eighteenth-century America to London and brings both worlds to vivid life. It is a magnificent evocation of an era, from the plantations of Virginia to Hanoverian England.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307406088
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 01/08/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 752
Sales rank: 469,649
Product dimensions: 5.21(w) x 7.93(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

KARLEEN KOEN is the New York Times bestselling author of Through a Glass Darkly and Dark Angels, a BookSense pick. She lives in Houston, Texas. Visit her online at

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

On the first day of September in the year of 1721, a galley with a center mast and one sail glided through the waters of the James River in His Majesty King George I’s Royal Colony of Virginia. It was manned by slaves on oars, and in its middle, as if to emphasize her importance, sat its principal passenger, Barbara Montgeoffry, widow to an earl, and therefore a countess: the Countess Devane. She was young to be widowed already, only one-and-twenty, like the century. She sat small, exquisite yet fragile-looking in her widow’s weeds—clothes solidly black as the manners of the time demanded.

Other passengers included the Deputy Governor of the colony and the Countess’s servants, a young French maid and a page boy, a slave himself. Two pug dogs, a cow, and six willow baskets with chickens inside were wedged in and around trunks, wooden boxes, barrels, and furniture wrapped in oilcloth.

The river was wide, the sky blue-white. Birds chirped in trees that stood like ancient sentinels on the banks. For some time now, from the east, from the direction of Williamsburg—the principal town and capital of the colony—clouds had been gathering, rolling over and into each other. At this bend in the river, there were no houses, only fields and trees, a forest of trees, huge trees, primeval trees, as old possibly as the land itself, certainly older than the colony, which had existed upon the shores of this river and three others to the north only since 1607.

“Governor Spotswood, how much farther?” asked Barbara impatiently.

She was the reason the Governor had taken time from his duties to man a galley up the James River.

“We are not half the way yet. Are you unwell again? Shall we land? Perry’s Grove is an hour or so ahead,” Sir Alexander Spotswood answered. An older man, in his fifties, he was deputy governor of the colony. As he spoke, a sudden wind came up to shake the fringe on his buckskin coat and pull at the sides of his wig, a full, formal, dark wig, in the style that the late king of France, Louis XIV, had made fashionable. It was parted in the middle to hang down majestically around the face.

“I’m quite well, just impatient to reach First Curle.”

She’d come to Virginia from England to look over her grandmother’s plantation, but there had been a delay of a week while she recovered from a fever. Her arrival was completely unexpected, as was her fever; to the Governor, it was as if a shimmering butterfly had landed unexpectedly in his colony, a butterfly with the most impressive of ancestors. The Countess’s grandfather Richard Saylor had been a renowned and beloved general in the long war with France that had taken up the Governor’s young manhood—and that of so many others—in the 1680s and 1690s and into the beginning of this century. Richard Saylor’s military exploits had earned him a dukedom. The Governor had served under him once upon a time.

Is there going to be rain? thought the Governor, staring at the sky. The clouds were suddenly closer; he’d swear they had moved at least a mile since the last time he checked them. He looked at the shore, estimating where they were, where to take shelter should it begin to rain.

He looked over to the young Countess, his fragile black butterfly. He did not imagine her responding kindly to a storm of rain, though she had displayed nothing but beautiful manners so far, beautiful manners that matched a beautiful face the precise shape of a heart, a fair and sweet face.

The Lionheart’s granddaughter, thought the Governor, for a moment taking time to wonder at the world, at its smallness. Richard Saylor had been called the Lionheart by his soldiers. To imagine that he took the Lionheart’s granddaughter to a river plantation that belonged to the family. What honor. And what obligation. He glanced once more at the sky. The clouds were above them now. It was going to rain.

Do I land or keep going? he thought. Will she be more angry to be wet or to be delayed? She’s been ill. She’s in mourning. She is not used to our roughness—only look at the entourage she’s brought with her: a French lady’s maid, a page boy, and two pug dogs. Her dogs, her servants, were the talk of Williamsburg. I’d better seek shelter and see that she is protected, he thought.

Large, determined drops of rain splattered the oilcloth covering the table and chairs, the barrels and trunks. The waters of the river stirred underneath the galley, as if something large and menacing had turned over. Wind rattled the ropes and iron rings on the sail, and the galley rocked back and forth in spite of the steady, powerful rhythm of the rowers. The cow, wedged among boxes and barrels, stretched out her neck toward land and lowed.

At that moment, the wind struck like a fist, and a basket of chickens fell over, the chickens in them escaping, clucking, squawking, flying into everyone. The dogs began to bark, and the young page boy, Hyacinthe, leaped up to lean dangerously over the side after a chicken.

“Hyacinthe! Sit down! Never mind the chickens! What is happening, Governor Spotswood? Thérèse! For God’s sake, shut those dogs up!”

It was the fragile black butterfly, Barbara, who spoke, yanking her page boy back down on the plank seat beside her as she did so.

Spotswood did not answer, for he was maneuvering his way through the cargo to get to the center mast and let down the sail, which was whipping in its rigging like something desperate to be free. A squawking chicken flew straight into his face. It screamed. But not any louder than he did.

“Damnation and blast and confounded hands of Jesus Christ! A storm, that is what is happening, Lady Devane. A large one!”

He sent the chicken whirling overboard. Over them, the sky was rolling ominous, cresting clouds. The day was, in a moment, dark, as if evening had come. Barbara watched yet another chicken cluck and cry and run amok until it flew into the water and disappeared, squawking and screaming to the last, under water that was now foaming and cresting dangerously.

“Oh no,” said Hyacinthe in French, “your grandmother the Duchess—” He did not finish. But then, he did not have to. Barbara’s grandmother, the Duchess of Tamworth, Richard Saylor’s fierce and indomitable widow, was quite proud of her chickens and cows, wanting them on her plantation in Virginia. She had been specific in her instruction.

“Never mind,” Barbara said, also in French. “The chickens have no importance as long as we are safe.”

She raised her face to the rain, to the dark sky, exhilarated rather than frightened by this sudden wildness coming up from nothing around her. During the week she had lain impatiently in the best bed in the best bedchamber in the Governor’s house in Williamsburg, ill with an ague, or fever, which was one of the hazards of coming to this colony, they had warned her of these sudden storms. They’d described ferocious lightning and deafening thunder as part of the storms.

Carters, Burwells, Lees, Pages, Fitzhughs, Ludwells. They were among the biggest landowners, the Governor had told her, the gentry of this colony, and she was wise enough in her fever to smile upon them as they buzzed around her sickbed like bees, buzzing colonial bees, attracted by her title and family, the surprise of her crossing the ocean to join them. They rode in from their plantations, the Governor said, to see her. They brought her flowers, wines, cooling fever waters; they were profusely apologetic that she should be sick, as if it were their fault she had the ague. They chattered to her of their colony—the vastness of its bay, the size of its rivers, the deadliness of its snakes—as proud of its flaws as they were of its beauties.

They begged her to visit their plantations, and she could feel the curiosity burning in them as deeply as the fever burned in her. She was exotic, a novelty. A countess. A young widow. Someone seemingly rich and secure, above them in all ways. The granddaughter of one of England’s most famous generals. Why was she here, they had to be wondering, when the world was hers in London?

Because the world was not hers in London. But, of course, she did not say so.

There was a sudden zigzag of blue-white lightning, and on shore, before her amazed eyes, a tree crackled, sizzled, and fell over, fire hissing in what was left. Now there came the accompanying rolling crack of thunder, so loud, so startling, so near, that she jumped, and her servant Thérèse looked ready to weep.

“Head for shore,” Barbara was glad to hear Spotswood command the slaves. She glanced at the boy beside her. Hyacinthe was looking afraid. Of course he’s afraid, she thought. He’s only ten.

“An adventure,” she said to him, to comfort him. She spoiled him, but he was quick and lively, easy to spoil. She loved him.

“You have no nerves, either of you,” snapped Thérèse. Rain had ruined her starched white cap, which was collapsed and limp about her pretty face. “We should have waited another day.” Thérèse’s words spilled out in hissing French. She clutched a growling, nervous pug to each breast. “You will catch the fever again, and then where will we be?”

“The chickens,” said Hyacinthe. “The Duchess said I must take care of her chickens, that you would be too busy with other things.”

There was another flashing, jagged blue-white streak of lightning, again very close, and Barbara thought: This is too much adventure. Are we going to drown on this colonial river? I didn’t come here to drown.

Loved ones came to mind. Roger, she thought, I may drown in a river and see you again, soon, after all. Harry, are you laughing at me, here in this storm, here in Virginia, in your place? Roger was her husband. He had died at Christmas. Harry was her brother. He had died in the summer a year ago. It was for them that she wore black, for them and for vanished dreams. The death of dreams. Nothing harder to overcome, so said her grandmother.

Lightning made another slash across the sky, the vibrating, ear-splitting thunder following in an endless roar. Rain was falling in sheets now. Grandmama, thought Barbara, counting off people she loved, Tony, Jane. The slaves had rowed into a creek opening onto the river.

“Abandon ship!” the Governor shouted, but Barbara didn’t need his command to be galvanized. We really are in danger, she thought. And when in danger, one fled. She’d known that since girlhood.

Scrambling out in the rain and wind, she stumbled in shallow water and fell to her knees, but another lightning bolt, another rolling crack of thunder, had her up in seconds and running through rain that fell in pellets, stinging the skin where it touched. The slaves were heaving bundles and baggage ashore—her trunks and barrels from England, her tables and chairs, her remaining baskets of chickens. The cow, eyes rolling back white in its head, strained and pulled at the rope that held it in the galley.

Barbara kept moving upward, kept urging Hyacinthe and Thérèse to follow, the three of them scrabbling in the dirt of the hilly bank, toward a grove of trees above them, giants: pines, oaks, maples, silverbells, cedars. She found herself half crawling on hands and knees upward as the rain pelted her. Underbrush scratched her face and arms, stabbed into her chest and belly. The wind rattled the trees above her as if they were thin saplings instead of oaks and pines hundreds of years old. It was a fierce storm. The colonials did not lie.

Barbara looked back to see the Governor. He was still inside the galley, where a slave was chopping at the mast with an ax. She heard the crack as it fell over like a tree. Then, the Governor and the slaves were out of the galley. They were all straining to turn it over on itself. Why? thought Barbara. The cow had either torn loose of her rope or been cut loose; she leaped out of the galley the moment it tipped over. Then the cow—Grandmama’s finest, thought Barbara; oh, well—was gone, splashing down the shore and away through the underbrush.

“Come back!”

The Governor was shouting, pointing to the heavens.

Table of Contents

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Now Face to Face 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 92 reviews.
EVKendall More than 1 year ago
Now Face to Face is the sequel to Through a Glass Darkly. After having read TAGD and falling in love with Barbara and her family I was eager to continue reading about her adventures, hoping she would find love and peace. I was bitterly disappointed. It was almost as if someone else had written Now Face to Face. The writing style was different and lacking in content as well as movement. I got bogged down in the mundane details of her time in Virginia and then the politics back in England. I researched the two books and found that Now Face to Face was written ten years after TAGD, which could explain the completely different feel of the two stories. I cannot say enough good about TAGD but Now Face to Face left me disappointed.
normandy_belle More than 1 year ago
After not being able to put down "Through a Glass Darkly" I was very excited to continue reading to this sequel. Such disappointment! I found that the storyline was a bit boorish at times and was a tad erratic in what it was trying to convey. The ending left a lot of questions and I felt that it was written too quickly...just to end the story. There was no teaser, nothing left to want you to read on...and the fact that there is not a third book to answer the questions that you may have, makes you reconsider should you read another one of Ms. Koen's books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was great with one very important problem. None of the storylines were finished. You have to wait for the next book to find out the ending of ALL of the main stories. This book can't stand alone. Unlike her previous books, which did have a finish, this one doesn't. This is more like the first half of a novel. It is a shame because she is a good writer. I doubt I will buy the next book because I feel like I was cheated on this one.
Texnurse More than 1 year ago
I agree totally with the other 2 star reviews. I received her first book "Through a Glass Darkly" as a free book and it was amazing. I could not put it down and was sad to see it end, until I saw that there was a sequel. I quickly ordered it and I have had to force myself to complete it. There were so many different stories going on at once, too much about the war and too many characters to keep up with that I just could not stay interested. I loved the parts about Virginia and Tamworth but other than that it was dull and boring. As the other reviewers stated, there was no good ending and I had waited and waited to have things wrapped up and it was just thrown together at the end. Will not read any more of her books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a wonderful sequel to the first one: Through a Glass Darkly. It picks up right where the other story left off and tells the tale of Barbara Devane in Virginia and then later back in London. Rich in detail, sometimes so much so it was hard to follow, it depicts the feeling of the period well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you haven't finished Through a glass darkly, don't read the synopsis for this new book. I'm a good 200 pages away from finishing Through a glass and I happened to read part of this new books description and now I have ruined the ending :' I want to kick myself!! So don't be a silly wabbit like me and stay away from this website, till you finish the 1st. book!
tishka_may More than 1 year ago
I devoured the first book following Barbara, Though a Glass Darkly. I began reading this and thought I would follow Barbara until she found love and peace. Not so, which is okay, but I felt deflated at the end. We finish with a cliff hanger and get answers to our questions in the epilogue ?! I had a hard time having all of the stories' threads nicely tied up in a quick epilogue chapter. It was such a letdown after the rest of the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have loved these books for at least 8 years. I re-read them over and over. I love the comfort of the Duchesses character! I have reaserched and read and have truley found these books to be fulfilling and true to historical references!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book, and also her first novel, 'Through A Glass Darkly' are two of the best period novels I've ever read. I concur with other reviewers, PLEASE PLEASE Ms Koen take us back to the story in a new book! Hurry! We've been waiting 5 years!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was happy to find out she had written a sequel but I was most dissapointed in how now face to face ended. There is just too many unanswered questions. I wanted to see her reunited with hycynithe. How did the tobacco crop in virgina fare. How are gussy and janes children doing. Her parents. I dont think I will buy another one of her books. I would however love a thrid book in this series to answer all the things left hanging!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with the other 2 star reviewers. After reading Through a Glass Darkly, I was really looking forward to reading the sequel only to be disappointed. The ending did not feel like an ending, it left many unanswered questions about the characters I came to love in the first book, it did not have the same feel as the first book and it felt rushed! Although I did not have to force myself to read it like one reviewer, I just did not read it with the same enthusiasm. I found myself laughing and crying with the characters in the first book, where in this one I did not. Some parts of the book did capture my attention and had at the edge of my seat, unfirtunately it was towards the end of the book. All in all I would not read this book again and would not recommend it, which is a shame because the first one was beautifully written and captivated me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read several of the more negative reviews of this book and I must say I disagree with them. This book was a wonderful conclusion to Through a Glass Darkly. It is at times a little lengthy in the description of the historical context, but the storyline is excellant. I read both books back to back and I'm sad that I will no longer get to enjoy Bab and her family. I didn't want it to end which says a lot for such a lengthy book.
Keltz More than 1 year ago
The novel starts out as a promising sequel to Through A Glass Darkly, which was a great read. However, this story quickly becomes muddy & ponderous, falling flat as did the failed Jacobite intruigues of the early 18th Century, which it employs as a backdrop. Our heroine Barbara returns to England & though her star seems to be on the rise, she chooses to become involved with a mystery man who could have been written as one of the most compelling in historical fiction. Instead, I found his character lacked any sort of fire, as did their romance - in stark contrast to the passionate, tortured marriage of Barbara's youth. The end of their story is so clipped it would seem even the author lost interest in our leads! There were several other characters whose stories remained unresolved but given the pace & lackluster tone of Now Face to Face, I'm not so sure I'd bother to read a third installment, even if Ms. Koen is inclined to write same.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the first book Through the Glass but was so disappointed with this one. I fell in love with Barbara and was so emiotionally invested, I hoped to find the same emotional and character depth with Face to Face. However, it was sorely lacking in the second book and very disjointed.
vandy More than 1 year ago
This series is one of the best I have ever read. A wonderful follow to Through a Glass Darkly, this novel is a gem. I now compare every book I read to these. I would LOVE a continuation to this story. The way Koen writes is very original and I love almost the sing-songly nature of it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I spent all this month reading what I could in what little spare time I had. It was soooo hard to put down! I would suggest this book to anyone I know, and I've already got my mom reading the series!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If You Like Historical Romance Set in Back in Olde Towne London, You Will LOVE THIS SET! 1)Dark Angels, 2) Through A Glass Darkly, 3) Now Face to Face. I Know Once You Start, You'll Not Be Able To Put Them Down...ENJOY:) All My Best ~ Just Julie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is as long as the Outlander books, but it's very detailed and isn't boring. Since its long, I like the fact it does give reminder details of certain events that happen over 100 pages prior. If you like fiction & a bit of history, you'll like. I checked out at library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's an epic story. I'm so sad I've finished reading it. I will miss the characters and their lives.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Because #1 was more emotionally charging for me and I wanted more. This book, although good, was not as satisfying and cost more than I thought it should have. The ending was not that great. As much as I would love to read the next one, I won't buy it. 657 Nook pages. DW
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved all three books!
coffee_luvr More than 1 year ago
Really loved the first book, Through a Glass Darkly. I liked this sequel too but not as much. Like other reviewers I found the ending a bit disappointing. The entire book was extremely detailed, but as the author got to the last section it seemed like there was a rush to end the book and I did not feel like the ending gave closure to the main character's life. Writing style of the ending didn't seem to match the rest of the book. That being said, I really did like the book; just felt the ending left more questions then answers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Through The Glass Darkly moved a bit quicker for me. This sequel is very heavy with history at times and too drawn out.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago