The Courtier's Secret
Donna Russo Morin
Kensington, Feb 2009, $14.00
When Jeanne Du Bois turned seventeen, the convent where she lived for a decade kicked her out due to a lack of payments by her odious dad. She goes to the court of the Louis XIV in Versailles, where her family is in attendance as part of the Sun King’s retinue. Her abusive father Gaston decides to marry her off to some pathetic noble over the objection of his wife Adelaide whom he considers a womb-loser; however her Uncle Jules encourages her to be all that she can be. He gives her fencing lessons, male garb and a mustache. Ergo Jean-Luc is born.
Jean Luc joins the musketeers as a loyal comrade to Henri and Antoine. Meanwhile Jeanne falls in love with her brother in arms Henri; he reciprocates though remains ignorant that Jeanne is Jean. As Jean-Luc turned to Uncle Jules, Jeanne turns to courtesan Madam de L’Enclos for advice with men. However, as she struggles with both identities, she learns of a plot to assassinate Queen Marie-Therese. The three musketeers vow to save their queen even at risk to their lives.
The spins to this engaging seventeenth century Musketeer romance are the gender bending Jeanne and the fact most of the support cast including the heroine’s father are nasty hedonistic sociopaths although there are those who are kind to Jeanne like her uncle and courtesan. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Uncle Jules trains his niece and never slows down as Jeanne falls in love when she was a young man.