When the beautiful widow Diane of Poitiers is called back to court, after spending the past five years in exile, she is reluctant and worried. King François I has an eye for the ladies. Diane suspects that her presence will inevitably bring back tales of her past. Devout, dressed in black, and old enough to have daughters of marriageable age, she should not be competition for the king’s attention, but her return immediately earns her the enmity of Anne d’Heilly, the king’s favorite, who sets out to drive her away. Diane, however, finds a powerful defender, Henri of Valois, the king’s second son. Twenty years her junior, moody, and headstrong, the young prince falls in love with Diane. Fighting the attraction she feels for him, Diane refuses his advances at first. Nonetheless, the widow and the prince are thrown into a maelstrom of gossip, passion, and danger.
Courtesan, the story of this unlikely, doomed affair, was Diane Haeger’s first novel, written thirteen years ago. The author of several other romantic novels and historical romances, Ms. Haeger uses historical characters to weave the entirely fictionalized account of this May-September romance that once shook the French court. Rich in detail, gusto, and heady, breathless encounters between the lovers, this is a book that readers of the genre will enjoy rediscovering.