The Dark Queen
Ariane Cheney is a Daughter of the Earth, one of a group of women revered for their wisdom, knowledge of the healing arts, and white magic. She inherited her mother’s title as Lady of Faire Isle, which is somewhere in Brittany. Together with her younger sisters, Gabrielle and Miribelle, she mourns the passing of their mother and the disappearance of their father on a voyage to South America. Ariane is not interested in marriage, but Justice Deauville, the Comte de Renard, has given her a ring and made a bargain with her. If she puts the ring on her finger and calls for his help three times, then she will agree to marry him.
These are dangerous times, especially for healers like Ariane, with witch hunters abroad. Although Faire Isle is a peaceful haven for the young women, trouble is coming their way. Catherine de Medici, the dark queen of the title, was the nemesis of Ariane’s mother. Now she realizes that Ariane has something she wants, and Catherine will stop at nothing to get it. The author combines imagination, a little fact and legend to portray Catherine and the events that led up to the massacre of the French Huguenots in Paris on St. Bartholomew’s Eve in August of 1572.
Susan Carroll has written many historical and Regency romances under several different names, but she has recently moved into the realm of the paranormal. I would characterize this book as light on history but long on atmosphere and romance. The three sisters, indeed all of the characters, are well drawn and interesting. Ms. Carroll sets the stage well for intrigue and magic spells and draws the reader into her web. This is the first of a planned trilogy featuring each of the three sisters.