Fontainebleau in 1825 is a glittering international court, rich with intrigue, passion and simmering violence. Lieutenant Colonel Kit Helford must navigate these treacherous waters to deliver the beautiful, self-destructive Princess Royal to her prospective husband. Kit’s childhood friend, Clemency Arwenack, is tasked with safeguarding her royal mistress’s reputation as the princess awaits a marriage she is dreading.
But both have secrets they will hide at all costs. Kit is on the run – from a man shot and left for dead back in London and a lifetime of scandal that includes a liaison with the princess herself. He will do anything to salvage his family’s reputation. Clemency, meanwhile, conducts a perilous trade in lies and blackmail as she seeks to destroy the princess, not protect her. With the princess’s life under threat, Kit and Clemency are pitted against each other, even as a dangerous attraction grows between them. The past hunts them both, remorselessly, relentlessly, and neither can escape it for long.
KATY MORAN is the author of Wicked by Design and False Lights, published by Head of Zeus. False Lights was originally published under the pseudonym KJ Whittaker.
Katy has taught creative writing in schools, at the Arvon Foundation, and for the charity Waterloo Uncovered, an archaeology project with a support program for veterans which aims to understand war and its impact on people. She visited the battlefield of Waterloo at their invitation, which led to her exploration of combat stress in False Lights. Katy’s research melds the testimony of present-day soldiers with the records of their historical counter-parts, to examine common ground and shared experiences across the centuries.
She is co-project manager for Waterloo Uncovered’s forthcoming educational project looking at the lives of camp followers, women who accompanied soldiers to the Peninsular War and the Battle of Waterloo. The project offers a rare insight into the lives of military spouses in a conflict on the cusp of modern history, seeking to broaden our understanding of history by removing the filter of prejudice.
My thoughts: this was a gorgeous book and the story inside was a treat too. I love when writers clearly do their research and bring the past to life, drawing you into the world of dazzling wealth and intrigue in this case. The French Court is not a safe place to be, everyone is ambitious and scheming. You have to rely on your wits and be very careful who you trust, especially if you have secrets you need to keep. Kit and Clemency must do their jobs and keep themselves from being found out at all costs, which sets up a complex and clever plot.
I liked these characters, they were struggling against, at times, great odds, fighting to stay one step ahead of their enemies and survive the extravagant but deadly world around them. A highly enjoyable read.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.