The Duke of Andelot (School of Gallantry) by Delilah Marvelle
Overview by Amazon:
Long before becoming the flamboyant courtesan known to men as Madame de Maitenon, Thérèse Angelique Bouchard, dreamed of becoming an actress capable of commanding not only the stage but all of Paris. Until she meets an extraordinary aristocratic gentleman who sweeps her into his arms and the danger of his life, while offering her the sort of wealth she never imagined. What starts off as a seductive alliance, ends in her giving him the one thing she, as a mere bourgeoisie, cannot afford to give: her love.
After the murder of his older brothers, Gérard Antoine Tolbert, becomes the last heir to the powerful dukedom of Andelot, leaving him to fight for not only his life, but the allegiance he holds for the crown. During the final rise of the French Revolution that whispers of the violent change about to shake the entire country, Gérard meets an aspiring actress who introduces him into wanting more out of himself and life. In trying to protect her from their overly passionate alliance and those that want him dead, he must decide what matters most: his life or his heart.
This is not just a romance novel, it is so much more than that. It is the incredible story of a woman, her life and love that sustained her for more years than I can comprehend. It’s not often that I am moved to genuine tears when reading a romance novel, but this book was just so poignant. Delilah Marvelle has crafted a story that transcends time and is so realistic.
The story starts presenting both Gerard and Therese in their various predicaments in life. The French Revolution is gaining steam and it’s like a menacing character looming in the background. When they meet it’s an introduction unlike any other I have read in a book before. Within an hour they are lovers, like a tempest in a teapot, they kick off a love affair that is so epic it lasts their lifetime.
What I really loved about this book was how realistic it was. The author comments that she went to France to research the Revolution and her diligence is evident. At times it felt like I was reading a biography rather than a historical romance novel. She weaves fictional characters and events into the reality of the times, along with actual members of the aristocracy and the bourgeois. After I read the book I spent quite a bit of time researching on the internet the historical figures she weaves into the tale.
The love story between Gerard and Therese is the stuff of legends. They fall hard and fast for each other, yet they spend little time together. The Revolution pulls them apart and pushes them together in a battle against the people who would be willing to help and hurt them. They share that epic kind of love that only comes around once in a lifetime. It’s the kind of love that makes you have to pick sides and do things that are so intolerable because you love another so much.
Gerard was an honorable man who is heartbroken at the injustice the Revolution has wrought on France. He has to play a dangerous game to save he people he loves. Therese has stars in her eyes. She wants to be the most famous performer on stage in France, but her love for Gerard makes her his ally in the Revolution.
This book was so well written and special. It is different than a typical historical romance novel. It is full of politics, revolution, love and despair. I enjoyed reading this incredibly well developed story and found it a revelation. Sometimes you don’t know you are looking for something different until you find it.