The Wardrobe Mistress by Meghan Masterson

  • Title:  The Wardrobe Mistress: A Novel of Marie Antoinette
  • Author:  Meghan Masterson
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  August 2017 – St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  It’s Giselle Aubry’s first time at court in Versailles. At sixteen, she is one of Marie Antoinette’s newest undertirewomen, and in awe of the glamorous queen and her opulent palace life. A budding designer, it’s a dream come true to work with the beautiful fabrics and jewels in the queen’s wardrobe. But every few weeks she returns home to visit her family in Paris where rumors of revolution are growing stronger.

From her position working in the royal household, Giselle is poised to see both sides of the revolutionary tensions erupting throughout Paris. When her uncle, a retired member of the secret du roi, a spy ring that worked for the old King, Louis XV, suggests that she casually report the Queen’s actions back to him as a game, she leaps at the chance. Spying seems like an adventure and an exciting way to privately support the revolution taking the countryside by storm. She also enjoys using her insight from Versailles in lively debates with Léon Gauvain, the handsome and idealistic revolutionary who courts her.

But as the revolution continues to gain momentum, and Giselle grows closer to the Queen, becoming one of the few trusted servants, she finds herself dangerously torn. Violence is escalating; she must choose where her loyalty truly lies, or risk losing everything…maybe even her head. (publisher)

My take:  I’m familiar with Marie Antoinette’s story and how it all played out so seeing it through the eyes of a young, middle-class woman who was one of her servants added to the context. It also provided conflict – especially experienced by Giselle who came of age during the time she served the Queen. She knew that things were not cut and dry when it came to the royal family and the general perception of the people. Giselle’s challenge was how to balance what she knew with how she felt. Adding to the challenge is Léon, her love interest. He is a revolutionary, albeit a moderate one. Can their relationship survive dire circumstances? Overall, I liked The Wardrobe Mistress and would recommend Meghan Masterson’s debut novel to fans of historical fiction about the French Revolution. Giselle’s story was an interesting perspective.


About the author: Meghan Masterson graduated from the University of Calgary and has worked several unrelated jobs while writing on the side. As a child, she gave her parents a flowery story about horses every year for Christmas. She is drawn to strong historical figures and situations which present unexpected opportunities for her characters. Meghan loves reading at all hours, cooking, and going for walks with her dog. She and her husband live in Calgary.

Praise for The Wardrobe Mistress

“In this debut novel by Meghan Masterson, the characters practically leap off the page, taking you by the hand through the streets of revolutionary Paris and the glittering halls of Marie Antoinette’s Versailles…A highly entertaining read! Not to be missed!” – Michelle Moran, Internationally bestselling author of Nefertiti and Madame Tussaud

“Silk isn’t the only thing whispering through the halls of the royal palaces in Meghan Masterson’s captivating debut…The Wardrobe Mistress is a romantic, tension-filled coming of age story set in a time of dangerous and uncertain revolution. You will root for Giselle; you will applaud her; and you will also fear for her.” – Sophie Perinot, author of Medici’s Daughter

“An entertaining read in the best tradition of the historical novel…The Wardrobe Mistress is intriguing and well researched, set during one of my favorite periods of history, the French Revolution.” – Roberta Rich, Internationally bestselling author of The Midwife of Venice

“Revolutionary fervor, royal politics, and high fashion are stitched together like a couture ballgown in Meghan Masterson’s THE WARDROBE MISTRESS…Giselle makes a smart, likable heroine, torn between her affection for the queen and her growing love for a firebrand suitor, and the revolution’s relentless advance toward the guillotine made for breathless reading. A charming debut!” —Kate Quinn, author of The Empress of Rome Saga and The Borgia Chronicles


THE WARDROBE MISTRESS: A Novel of Marie Antoinette

St. Martin’s Griffin

On-Sale August 15th, 2017

Paperback: $15.99 / 9781250126665

E-Book: $10.99 / 9781250126672


 

Best Intentions by Erika Raskin plus US Giveaway

  • Title:  Best Intentions
  • Author:  Erika Raskin
  • Genre:  Mystery
  • Pages:  288
  • Published:  August 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Marti Trailor is a mother of three, a New York congressman’s daughter, and wife to a successful obstetrician. Tired of playing the dutiful stay-at-home mom, she jumps at the opportunity to return to her stalled career as a hospital social worker. The catch? The job is at the same hospital where her husband works, and the doctor is not so keen.

As Marti gets enmeshed in the world of the hospital—long hours, overworked doctors, entrenched and dangerous politics—she witnesses something that she cannot unsee. Marti takes it upon herself to do the right thing. But the right thing comes with unintended consequences, and before she even has time to plead innocence, Marti finds herself thrust under a dangerous spotlight.

Peeling back the layers of one woman’s precipitous journey from stay-at-home mom to murder trial defendant, Best Intentions is Erika Raskin’s sophomore gem, a domestic mystery set against a captivating emotional backdrop. (publisher)

My take:  Marti is the beleaguered wife of a successful doctor in Richmond. She is almost single-handedly raising their three children and is getting kind of fed up with the whole deal. When she’s offered a job in her chosen profession of social worker at the same hospital where her husband works, she grabs it. He’s less than thrilled but knows better than to try to change her decision. When something happens at the hospital to one of Marti’s clients her life is turned upside down and she finds herself facing a murder charge.

I thought this whodunit was okay but I had a few quibbles:  pacing – it didn’t take off for me until almost half-way in; Marti’s snarky (mostly) inner dialogue got old fast; there are a lot of stereotypes in this novel. Even though I had a good idea of what happened I wanted to see how Erika Raskin wrapped it all up – and I thought she did a decent job. Fans of a mysteries that involve hospital politics, social work, and the law might want to give Best Intentions a try.


About the author:

Erika Raskin’s debut novel, Close, was nominated for a Teen Choice Book of the Year award. Her work has appeared on public radio and publications including The Washington Post, Salon, and Washingtonian Magazine. She was a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and a panelist at the Virginia Festival of the Book.


US Giveaway

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Giveaway ends August 23, 2017


US Giveaway (galley copy): Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

I’ll be reading this novel in the fall and will be part of a blog tour at that time. The publisher has made available a review galley for a lucky US reader now!  The following content was provided by the publisher:

*

A week is a long time to spend with your family.

Now imagine being quarantined with them over Christmas.

 

That’s the delicious premise in SEVEN DAYS OF US, about a dysfunctional British family forced into quarantine together. Eldest daughter Olivia, a doctor, has just returned from treating a life-threatening virus in Africa and must spend seven days in quarantine. Her family, forced into lockdown with her, decides to spend the week in their crumbling and isolated country manor, Weyfield Hall. Each arrives carrying secrets and simmering resentments.

With the Birch family under one roof for the first time in years, keeping secrets is no longer an option. And when a shocking, unexpected visitor arrives, the family’s pressurized state will boil over, spilling problems—and possibly the deadly virus—outside the gates of Weyfield Hall.

In residence with Olivia are her unabashedly frivolous younger sister Phoebe, fixated on her upcoming wedding; father Andrew, sequestered in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and longing for his glory days as a war correspondent; and sweet bumbling matriarch Emma, who’s hiding a secret that will turn the whole family upside down. Anyone who loves their family—in small doses—will relate to the inner thoughts of each character.


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Giveaway ends on August 21, 2017


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Spotlight/US Giveaway: The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb

About:  Haunting and atmospheric, The End of Temperance Dare is another thrilling page-turner from the author reviewers are calling the Queen of the Northern Gothic.

When Eleanor Harper becomes the director of a renowned artists’ retreat, she knows nothing of Cliffside Manor’s dark past as a tuberculosis sanatorium, a “waiting room for death.” After years of covering murder and violence as a crime reporter, Eleanor hopes that being around artists and writers in this new job will be a peaceful retreat for her as much as for them.

But from her first fog-filled moments on the manor’s grounds, Eleanor is seized by a sense of impending doom and realizes there’s more to the institution than its reputation of being a haven for creativity. After the arrival of the new fellows―including the intriguing, handsome photographer Richard Banks―she begins to suspect that her predecessor chose the group with a dangerous purpose in mind. As the chilling mysteries of Cliffside Manor unravel and the eerie sins of the past are exposed, Eleanor must fight to save the fellows—and herself—from sinister forces. (publisher)


Praise for THE END OF TEMPERANCE DARE:

“[In] this solid supernatural thriller…Webb succeeds in escalating suspense while keeping her story grounded, but goes full-on Exorcist for the finale.” Publishers Weekly

“Webb’s (The Vanishing, 2014) fourth novel is a high-energy ride peppered with just the right amount of romance seeking, coffee drinking, and wine sipping.” Booklist

“Wendy Webb is a pro at providing all the trappings of a good Gothic mystery.…A fun read.” —Criminal Element

“Chilling…” Gumshoe Review


About the author:  Wendy Webb knew from the minute she read A Wrinkle in Time at age eleven that she was destined to be a writer. After two decades as a journalist, writing for varied publications including USA Today, the Huffington Post, the Star Tribune, Midwest Living, and others, Wendy wrote her first novel, The Tale of Halcyon Crane. When it won the 2011 Minnesota Book Award for genre fiction, she started writing fiction full-time. Her second and third novels, The Fate of Mercy Alban and The Vanishing, established her as a leading suspense novelist, who reviewers are calling the Queen of the Northern Gothic. She lives in Minneapolis with her part-time dog, Zeus, and is at work on her next novel. Visit her online at http://www.wendykwebb.com and on Facebook and Instagram as wendywebbauthor.


US Giveaway

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Giveaway ends on August 16, 2017