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 entices him into wanting more out of not only himself but 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.
Sadly, as this was an e-book I couldn't do this to the book even though I really, really wanted to for it was absolutely horrible.
I was immediately drawn to it when I heard it took some inspiration from The Scarlet Pimpernel, a book I really liked but The Duke of Andelot doesn't even come close to being that enjoyable.
The Scarlet Pimpernel is a story about a French noblemen who rescues other noblemen from the clutches of the French Revolution. It was also written by a baroness so it is not the most balanced look at a time in which a lot of commoners killed a lot of noblemen. Still, it has some sympathy for the common people and also admits that not all nobles necessarily always acted...noble towards the lower classes. Compared with the portrayal of nobles and commoners in The Duke of Andelot, it reads like The Communist Manifesto.
With very few exceptions the nobles are all good people and charitable. They always help the poor, pet fluffy kittens and the sun is shining out of their arse...
The exceptions are:
- Gérard's father. But then he was nicer once but then evil lowlife commoners killed his wife and now he's a broken man and also hates those evil lowlife commoners
- The random duke who engineered the French Revolution. Yeah, you read that right. The people didn't just start this revolution on their own. He bought all the grain, so the people would revolt, kill all the nobles (except him), then quietly sit down again and let him be king. I am not making this up. How did he think this would work? How did the author think this would work? Probably not at all which is why the Duke is mentioned only twice and the second time is to inform us that he was murdered.
- The Marquis de Sade. Yeah. He's in the book.
Don't ask me about that plotline. Let's just say that this man certainly enjoyed pain but certainly not the pain of being in a character in this idiotic book.
The commoners meanwhile just don't understand that all nobles are just the bestest people ever and just keep on killing them in gruesome ways. Stupid people. Never let them have any power, they need better people to keep them from doing something silly.
The exception is of course our heroine. Despite being one of 11 children of a butcher she has a proper education for some really contrived reason and is also really sympathetic towards the poor misunderstood nobles. However poor Thérèse has a problem: nobody appreciates her inner values, nobody sees past her stunning beauty and her large boobs
All men leave her presents like food in the hope that one day she will give them something in return. (Do I have to remind you that we're talking about (pre)revolutionary France here? People had lots of food to spare). Yes only in the hope because Thérèse never would be that kind of woman.
Well until she meets Gérard who can offer a lot more than a few chickens: pearls, diamonds, money in general and a job at the theatre (she wants to be an actress). All that exchange for a bit of sex is quite a good deal so she agrees under the condition that he won't get her pregnant (she wants him to pull out in time). He agrees and remembers that for about 10 minutes...then he's too distracted by her big boobs, unearthly beauty and virginal sex-goddess skills to do that. She is obviously pissed and wants to leave. So he shows his charming side:
"You belong to me now, Thérèse. Me. Because you said yes to me. Do you remember? You said Yes. And in saying yes to me, you are no longer allowed to say no."
Isn't he a romantic?
For some reason that is not Thérèse's reaction. Instead they mope about each other for the rest of the book, more poor nobles get killed by evil commoners, people get tortured for months without any lasting psychological consequences, Thérèse's cycle is so irregular that she can't tell for four months if she's pregnant (also: after hating the idea of herself getting pregnant she's suddenly all about 'BUT WHEN WILL THERE BE BABIES???' when it comes to other women...because breeding is all we're good for) and probably more idiotic things that I have already blocked out again because all you can do after reading this book is consuming massive amounts of brain-bleach.