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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 October 2011
This well written historical novel tells the story of Frances Stuart, the beautiful ingénue who captured the heart of a king.When sixteen year old Frances arrives at the English court, her vulnerability and innocence acts as a magnet to a King who is well adept at getting what he wants from women, and yet he can't accept that this one women is beyond his reach. There was endless speculation at the time about "La Belle Stuart" and her relationship with the King, and the "have they, or haven't they" element to their romance added fuel to 17c gossip mongers.

Beautifully descriptive of the restoration period this book brings to life the glittering court of Charles II. The rivalry that existed between the king's mistresses is expertly captured, and yet it's refreshing to read a restoration romance that doesn't involve graphic descriptions of Charles II's sex life !
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on 8 January 2014
I've always been interested in This young lady. Frances Stewart. the woman who kept giving Charles II, a notorious and serial womaniser out of her bed. And everywhere else. The pressure brought to bear on her virtue must have been astonishing, but she stood absolutely rock solid firm against attacks coming at her from all sides. What a pity she's no longer in our coins. Personally, I'd probably have caved - if the price was right. It's sad though, that after her years of waiting for the man we have to accept that she really did love, she had such a short time with him, and never had the brood of happy children she'd wanted so badly.
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on 25 May 2015
I am a wee bit of a history buff and knew that Charles II has been a bit of a lad but never knew about this affair. I have since carried out some research and this made the book all the more interesting. It's a great book, well researched and a good read.
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on 13 February 2016
A compelling and quick read very picturesque and evocative with rich dialogue. Brings the court of Charles II to life Too me seven days The story of Frances Stuart, who returns from poverty stricken exile in France to the court of Charles II in restoration England. Frances Stuart was such a great beauty that Following the war with the Dutch, Charles had a commemorative medal cast, in which her face was used as a model for Britannia; this subsequently became customary for medals, coins and statues. She continued to appear on some of the copper coinage of the United Kingdom until the decimalization of the currency in 1971
Charles II, used to getting his own way with women becomes infatuated with Frances who resists his advances who is herself in love with the king's cousin Charles Stuart Duke of Richmond and Lennox,
Her great friend and mentor Mall Villiers stands by her side and the totally malignant and vindictive Lady Barbara Castlemaine will stop at nothing to try and destroy Frances, as Castlemaine is insanely jealous of the king's affections for Frances.
I enjoyed this book.
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on 13 September 2014
I love historical novels but I've spent a bit too much time in medieval and Tudor England recently, so I was very glad to visit the mid 17th century court of King Charles II with this one.
And because it's peopled almost entirely with real-life characters - the 'painted lady' is Frances Stuart, famous for being just about the only woman at court who refused to sleep with the king - you can use the internet to look up all the Lely portraits as they're mentioned in the book.
I actually found this much more enjoyable than the book itself. All the notorious characters you'd expect are in it, people like Barbara Castlemaine and the Earl of Rochester, and of course there's the plague and the Great Fire of London to cover, too. But despite all these possibilities it never quite comes to life: the characters are drawn far too superficially to get under their skin, so it's hard to care. And what little plot there is - will La Belle Stuart succumb to the king's demands? - is very repetitive, and the hero, Frances's true love the Duke of Richmond, is dull in the extreme.
Unfortunately, it didn't help that I'd re-read Diana Norman's wonderful The Vizard Mask quite recently, which deals with virtually the same period and many of the same characters. It's not my favourite of her books, but when it comes to bringing history to life it's in a different league altogether.
But this was very readable and I'll look for other books from this author.
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on 7 October 2012
I was very pleased with this book as I found that the story was well written and well paced. This was the first time I have read a book by this author and I will be reading more of her books. I would definitely recommend this book for those who like historical fiction (based on fact.)
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on 24 October 2011
A true story of a strong willed woman who lived at court and was pursued by King Charles 2nd, but resisted his advances. The historical events of the plague and the great fire of London, and court life were very informative. Unfortunately the love story was bland, and a bit boring, no exciting episodes.
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on 13 December 2013
What a cracking book! Maeve Haran brings the life and times of Charles II alive. The writing is just so clever that you feel that you are there at court and in London. The pace never lets up and keeps you gripped to the end. Loved it.
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on 14 July 2014
Not an era likely to excite me but i persevered. Found the plot boring & repetitive
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on 16 February 2015
An enjoyable read bringing the Stuart court to life. I am drawn between celebrating Frances's stand against the King and feeling sorry for him. I willlook to read more of Maeve Harans books.
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