Friends, I have a good one for you today. If you're a historical fiction fan, this series is for you. I really enjoy historical fiction in general, but I tend to stick to a few time periods (I mentioned that recently in my review of A Bridge Across the Ocean). The court at Versailles is so fascinating, and I love reading about the intrigue, deception, and social rules that dictate the every move courtiers. I read the first book in this series, The Sisters of Versailles, last year and loved the introduction to the court of Louis XV.
In The Rivals of Versailles, we pick up right where the first book left off. Immediately after the death of his most recent mistress, we meet the next powerful woman to inhabit both the bed and heart of King Louis XV. Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson was once told by a psychic that she would be powerful beyond imagination and a mistress to a great king. She takes that to heart and with the help of Louis' advisors and confidantes, Jeanne manages to secure a place at court as the Marquise de Pompadour, the king's official mistress, and his most trusted advisor. Throughout the course of The Rivals of Versailles, we meet several more of Louis' (many, many) mistresses, and Jeanne's position is constantly threatened by both these new lovers and her enemies among Louis' advisors.
Much of what I wrote in my review of the first book remains true here: the history is so obviously well-researched, the story rich in detail, and the scandal so shocking that it's hard to look away. My one disclaimer would be that there is definitely some sexual content in these books, so some readers may find that uncomfortable. Even as a reader who doesn't normally indulge in romantic fiction, I find this series so irresistible. I love stories with strong women, but I especially love when those women played a part in real history. In this case, the author's note mentioned that Jeanne is considered to be one of the three most powerful women of the eighteenth century, and no reader can deny that her rise from a common girl to the virtual Queen of France is something to be admired. The third book in the series comes out this month so stay tuned for a review of that soon!
Bottom-Line Rating: 5/5
Title: The Rivals of Versailles
Author: Sally Christie
Publisher: Atria, 2016
Price: $10 on Amazon
Source: Personal Library