The author describes this book as more “fanfiction” than true fiction. The well-known title characters from Dumas’ original novel are nowhere to be found in Klein’s book. But Captain Treville and Cardinal Richelieu are major characters while King Louis makes a brief appearance in a crucial moment. The Duke of Buckingham MUST be at list a bit player in any story surrounding the Musketeers and their defense of the King. In this novel, our leading man has a couple of less-than-friendly encounters with him.
The story focuses on Gregoire de Medici and Charlotte Menard, childhood friends who were ripped apart by accusations of treason. Gregoire simply wants to escape the black cloud that hangs over his family name and make sure that his sister can secure a respectable husband. Charlotte was always too headstrong for her own good, preferring adventure and daring escapades to activities more suited for a young woman. When the story begins she is a widow who isn’t really grieving the husband she never loved. Her late husband left her with little more than debts she cannot pay and it’s unclear how she will survive on her own.
Enter Cardinal Richelieu. He offers to help both Charlotte and Gregoire if they will work for him. Someone is trying to harm the king and the Cardinal needs eyes on the inside. Charlotte becomes a personal maid to Lady Abigail, a noblewoman visiting from England. Gregoire joins the Musketeers under an assumed name, a job that gives him access to the palace where he and Charlotte can be seen talking without suspicion. And since Gregoire is in Musketeer blue, it will be harder to connect his actions to the Cardinal. But if they can pull off this job, they will both have everything they want. Or at least they will have what they think they want.
Klein has written a story that is both captivating AND a beautiful tribute to a well-known and much loved classic novel. Both Charlotte and Gregoire have to find the strength to admit painful secrets to one another and it seems as those these two may never find their way to one another for good. Both experience moments of danger and both are rescued by the other, making it clear that this mission needs both of them to succeed. From the moment they reconnect in Richelieu’s office, I completely believed that they were lifelong friends who had fallen in love and been separated by tragedy. They are both strong, resilient characters, neither of them diminished by the other. While very clearly a romance, it was also a story about learning to define who you are and who you want to be apart from family and the expectations of society. I loved absolutely everything about it.