The Stuart family is run out of England when Cromwell turns the country into a Commonwealth. Charles II is a prince wandering around to different courts while he makes attempts to return to the throne. His mom and youngest sister Henriette (Minette to her brother) are in the French court. The other family members are either imprisoned in England or at court in other areas.
Though this is the first book in the Charles II, it is really about two woman rather than Charles himself. The first woman is his sister Minette. She starts as a child and blossoms into a woman, falling in love with Louis XIV. Louis doesn't find out he loves her back until it's too late and he's already been married. The second is Lucy Waters (though a quick Google search has her name as Lucy Walters so I'm not sure why her name was incorrect in the book). Lucy is described as the most beautiful woman in England and Charles falls in love with her quickly. He can't marry her but that doesn't stop a love affair from happening.
I found this book quite dense and a slow read, though it was still very interesting. Most of my historical fiction reading on the British monarchy is in the Tudor era. I didn't know much of either Charles II or Louis XIV and even though this book didn't focus on those two characters, learning about those around them during the time does a lot to shed light on those royals.
Minette was the most interesting character in this book. She went through a transformation from shy, skinny child to beautiful, joyous lady. It seems like she brought many kinds of art to the French court. A whole book could be written on her.
This book isn't as salacious as Philippa Gregory but it is still a great story of fascinating historical figures.
First Line: "It was late afternoon on a July day in the fourth year of the Great Rebellion."