Marie Mancini, the niece of the real power behind the Sun King’s throne Cardinal Mazarin, decides to chart her own path in this story of power, manipulation, love, and sacrifice.
Cardinal Mazarin uses his surplus of relatives to dominate and manipulate Louis XIV of France. Rumor has it that the cardinal, not Louis XIII, is the current king’s true father. The cardinal views Marie as a dispensable pawn to use in his ongoing attempts to manage the king, affect world politics, and add to his own wealth and prestige. Marie initially goes along with the plan, in the hopes to be spared a return trip to a convent, but a romance blossoms between herself and the king – a relationship that threatens the cardinal’s control. She ends up playing a dangerous game, encouraging the king to be his own man and hoping their love is enough to see the cardinal’s reign end and Marie on the throne next to her beloved. What ensues is a high stakes game of power, one in which even Marie’s talent for divination is unable to influence. Accepting Louis’ offer of marriage could force the cardinal’s hand, shoving Louis off the throne and threatening France’s shaky chance of peace with Spain. So does Marie let her heart or head rule?
Marie is a fascinating figure: bold, determined, devoted, and above all, faithful. She is forced to make a choice that no one would envy and the heartache that ensues is palpable. Be on the lookout for an appearance by Frances Stuart, subject of Marci Jefferson’s earlier book “Girl on the Golden Coin” at the end of the novel, which is a neat touch. This story is an emotional rollercoaster but one that concludes with Marie holding her head high.
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