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Angélique: Marquise of the Angels

The book begins in 1648 during a time of insurrection, terror and revolt in a divided France. Angélique de Sance de Monteloup, a vibrant twelve-year-old tomboy, is the daughter of a simple nobleman impoverished by taxes and the worries of looking after his many children, retainers and the peasants who rely on the lord of the manor for protection.

Angelique joins the local peasant children in their games, ranges the ancient forests and swamps of Poitou, and takes charge when bandits visit destruction and rapine on the humble villagers.

By chance, while visiting influential relatives with her father, who is there to plead for patronage, she foils a plot to poison the young king, Louis XIV, who is battling for his throne.

Later, sent to complete her education with the nuns, she comes across the future St Vincent de Paul, and returns a beautiful young 17-year-old to hear that her father has arranged a marriage that will provide her family with a handsome dowry and Angélique with a suitable match.

Horrified to learn that her husband to be, the Comte de Peyrac de Morens, Lord of Tolouse, is twelve years older than her, disfigured, lame, and has a reputation as a magician with a pechant for dissolute habits, Angélique reluctantly agrees to marry him for the sake of her family.

Frustrated in an attempt to experience true love at least once with her childhood friend Nicholas, she is married but is determined to kill herself rather than submit to the embraces of such a monster.

Yet she is somewhat taken aback when, on her wedding night, Joffrey de Peyrac, realising she is terrified of him, does not insist upon his conjugal rights, but instead determines to win her through the art of courtly love.

Fascinated in spite of herself, Angélique gradually realises the true depths of this remarkable man - a poet, artist, scientist, raconteur, swordsman and a great lover of life.

Taking a keen interest in his revolutionary scientific experiments, she realises she loves him and becomes threatened by the artifices of the Archbishop of Tolouse, who believes Joffrey is an alchemist who has discovered the secret of the transmutation of gold.

By now the young Louis XIV has secured his throne. Joffrey and Angélique, as the lord and lady of Tolouse, attend Louis' wedding to Marie-Therese of Spain, and accompany the wedding party to Paris, along with their young son, Florimond.

But Joffrey is arrested in the night and disappears. Unwilling to surrender to the threats and bribes of the power brokers determined to destroy Joffrey, a pregnant Angélique braves all, including a confrontation with the jealous Louis XIV, in order to save Joffrey from oblivion, and to win his acquittal of the charges of witchcraft levelled against him.

As the forces of evil try to separate Joffrey and Angelique, she risks everything to save him, and the book climaxes in the decision of the court, its horrific aftermath and the traumatic birth of Joffrey's second son, Cantor.