Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: "The Flower Reader" by Elizabeth Loupas

Synopsis:  In the sweeping new novel from the author of The Second Duchess, dangerous secrets lead a passionate young woman into a maze of murder and conspiracy as Mary, Queen of Scots, comes home to reign in a treacherously divided Scotland….

With her dying breath, Mary of Guise entrusts a silver casket to Rinette Leslie of Granmuir, who possesses the ancient gift of floromancy. Inside the casket, and meant only for the young Mary, Queen of Scots, are papers the old queen has painstakingly collected—the darkest secrets of every Scottish lord and explosive private prophecies prepared by Nostradamus. Rinette risks her life to keep the casket safe, but she makes a fatal mistake: she shows it to her beloved young husband. On the very day the young queen comes home, Rinette’s husband is brutally assassinated.

Devastated, Rinette demands justice from the queen before she will surrender the casket. Amid glittering masques and opulent weddings, courtly intrigues and Highland rebellions, the queen’s agents and Rinette herself search for the shadowy assassin. They are surrounded by ruthless men from all over Europe who will do anything to force Rinette to give up the casket—threatening her life, stripping her of her beloved castle by the sea, forcing her to marry a man she hates, and driving her from the man she has reluctantly grown to love. In the end, the flowers are all she can trust—and only the flowers will lead her safely home to Granmuir.

My Thoughts:  I really needed this book!  I have read a couple of duds lately and it was so nice to read a book that completely sucked me in.  And what a gorgeous cover!  I always get nervous when covers are really pretty because sometimes the story isn't as great as the cover but that is not the case with this book.  From the first few pages, I fell in love with the main character, Rinette.  She was feisty and strong-willed and more than capable of fending for herself in an era where that wasn't the norm.  It was also nice to see her mature throughout the novel, there were times where she acted childish but the circumstances she had to deal with helped her grow throughout the story.

It was really nice to read a 'Tudor' novel that centered around Mary, Queen of Scots, instead of the usual Tudor suspects.  I don't know that much about Mary Stuart's life but I thought she made for a very intriguing character in this story.  I didn't really like her as a character:  she was impetuous and fickle but still a well-written character and I am sure the reader is meant to like her.  I also loved that the story was set in Scotland (I will go there someday!).  The descriptions of the castles and the overall setting were beautifully written and I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the flowers.  When looking at other characters in the story, she saw flowers that represented their personality.  The fact the author did enough research to pair up her characters with real flowers was neat. 

I would definitely say that this book had some aspects of a romance novel but I hate to identify it has such.  There was definitely a romantic side to this novel but it wasn't overpowering to the rest of the story which I really appreciated.  Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.  It's definitely a book that made me completely lose track of time.  4 stars.

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  1. Denise, thank you so much for your lovely and thoughtful review. Your comment about Queen Mary is particularly interesting to me, because my feelings about her are very much mixed. (Her changeable personality is well-documented in historical records.) I believe she was probably enormously charismatic when she was "up" but there were moments in the story when I didn't like her much, either! :)

  2. I've been wanting to read this one, so I'm glad to hear that it lives up to expectations.


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