Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Teaser Tuesday + Review: To Serve a King by Donna Russo Morin

From the Back Cover:

From her earliest days, Genevieve Gravois has known one fact above all: Francis I, king of France, is her enemy. Raised by her embittered aunt after her parents' deaths, Genevieve has been schooled in things no woman should know: how to decipher codes, how to use a dagger and a bow, and how to kill. For Henry VIII has a destiny in mind for the young girl--as his most powerful and dangerous spy.

When the time is ripe, Genevieve enters the magnificent world of the French court. With grace to match her ambition, she becomes maid of honor to Anne de Pisseleau, King Francis's mistress. Yet neither the court--which teems with artistry and enlightenment as well as intrigue--nor Francis himself are at all what Genevieve expected. And with her mission, her life, and the fate of two kingdoms at stake, she will be forced to make deadly decisions about where her heart and her ultimate loyalties lie.

My Teaser, from page 151:

With calm certitude, Genevieve lowered her empty bow to her side. Cold, violet eyes found the king's and she dropped him a curtsy.

My Thoughts:

Genevieve arrives at the court of Francois I with only one purpose: to destroy him. Embittered against him from an early age and encouraged by her protector, King Henry VIII, Genevieve has been schooled in the art of espionage with that purpose in mind. But her training had one big drawback: it was carried out in relative isolation, and Genevieve's first problem upon arriving at court is her struggle to adapt to the social interaction of a courtier's life. But she soon catches on and settles into her new role as lady-in-waiting, and her new role as Henry's spy in an enemy court.

At first it is very easy to carry out her duty, faithfully passing along any information she believes may be of value to Henry. She worships him with the pitiable steadfastness of a girl starved for affection, clinging to the smallest notice from him. Helping her along is her ability to quickly discern the dark undercurrents moving beneath the glittering, enlightened elegance of the French court. As a lady-in-waiting to the king's mistress and closest confidant, the duchess d'Etampes, she is witness to the battle of wills between the duchess and the king's most trusted advisor, the constable Montmorency; and to the rivalry between the duchess and the Dauphin's mistress, Diane de Poitiers. If that isn't enough, throw in two jealous, jilted wives--Queen Eleanor and the Dauphine, Catherine de Medici--and you've got one seething hotbed of power struggles, paranoia, and intrigue.

As the weeks go by, Genevieve's mission becomes more difficult. She begins to form attachments at court, and she begins to see Francois in a new light. She starts to question her beliefs and Henry's motives. But she's got another problem. She's become a bit careless, and the king's constable becomes convinced there's a spy in the king's court. When his investigation hits too close to home, Genevieve is forced to take drastic measures to protect herself, measures that have tragic consequences. At this point the story becomes very suspenseful. As the net tightens around Genevieve, Henry asks her to carry out her final, ultimate task, and the story races along to a very surprising ending that really bumped the book up a notch in my estimation. I'd picked up a couple of little clues along the way, but I was not at all prepared for what actually went down. It's not often that an author can do that to me!

Ms. Morin writes with a natural, easy style and I really enjoyed reading about Francois I. It was very refreshing to get a view of Henry VIII from a rival's point of view, and Ms. Morin is a born storyteller. Filled with sparkling period detail, realistic, compelling characters, romance, suspense, and a few surprises--To Serve a King has everything I like in a book! (And a great author's note that prompted me to want to learn much more about the historical figures central to this story.) I look forward to reading her other novels.

My Rating:  4.5 Stars out of 5

*Please note: This review references a copy received from the publisher. These are my honest and unbiased thoughts, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two "teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists!


  1. A book of historical intrigue - sounds like a good one that I'd love to read!

    Book Dilettante

  2. I love the teaser...I have always been a fan of historical fiction. I definitely have to check this one out. Thanks for stopping by my blog, and I am glad to see you are reading Lover Unleashed. I just finished that one two days ago. Hope you like it (it has alot of V in it!). Happy reading :)

  3. Great teaser. Your review makes me want to check out this book!! How does it matter if I have 100 miles long tbr pile?!!


    Here is my Teaser Tuesday: Wrecker by Summer Wood post!

  4. This sounds quite good. I'm glad you enjoyed it. My YA teasers are from Hex, A Witch and Angel Tale by Romona Wray and my adult teaser is from The Perfect Play by Jaci
    . Happy reading!

  5. Love the teaser. Great review too! Thanks for stopping by.

  6. This is definitely one that would appeal to me!

    Great teaser



  7. Ahh, I love the courts of this time! This is definitely my kind of read.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Thanks for the review and teaser! Here's mine: http://readhanded.blogspot.com/2011/04/teaser-tuesdays_19.html

  10. Love the teaser and great review. Sounds like a good book.

  11. I must have this book!!!! Great review and teaser..:D

  12. Great teaser! This sounds really good. Haven't read much Francis related so I'd love to read this.

  13. Lovely teaser!


  14. Great teaser! Thanks for commenting on mine =)

  15. Oh, a great teaser! Love it. :) The book does sound like it's very good.

    Rebecca @ kindle fever


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