This is one of those library quickpicks, and even then, it's my mom's quickpick that she passed on to me. It sounded interesting and since I'm in the midst of reading nonfiction, I was antsy for a quick fiction fix.
Good before bad.
I definitely can't fault Melanie's imagination. Nor her commendable historic research. The previous extent of my knowlege on Lord Byron was limited to his profession: poet. That, and I thought he was gay. Whoops! Apparently, he was just "the British voice of libido." Back then it was offensive to "admit to and write about human sexuality." Gasp! Anyway, I learned a great many interesting things about Lord Byron, as well as Ninon de Lenclos, a French woman who was "an amazing liberationist, feminist and philosopher, overlooked by the general public." (I am getting these quotes from the Author's Notes.)
MJ uses part of a poem in her story that she includes in its entirety at the very end of the book. It is Le Chevalier Sans Paix by C.E.K. (obviously the author wished to remain generally anonymous). I did not have the patience to read the whole thing but the snippet I looked at was very well done, so if you're a poetry fan, I recommend it. At the very end of the poem were the lines:
Il y a chose plus grand que moi ou toi;
C'est nous. Et j'usque-là, je peux batailler seulement.
Loosely translated this means: There are bigger things than me and you; it's us. And because of that, I can battle alone. (Please feel free to correct me if your French is better than mine!) I really liked this and so had to include it. :)
Negative criticism: This was your average romance novel. Inevitable relationship, inevitable ending. The characters weren't a huge drawing point, just the history.
Conclusion: I am intrigued and so would still read the other related books, but they wouldn't be priority reading. I may even eventually find time to peruse her multiple other novels