France, 1682. Louis XIV, the Sun King, is at the height of his power, his court dazzles with opulent glory. For many privileged young women, Versailles is a paradise. For others, it is a gilded and bejeweled cage. Jeanne Yvette Mas du Bois is unlike most other courtiers and the flavor of decadence tastes bitter upon her tongue. Her thirst for knowledge and purpose entices her father's brutal wrath, but her Uncle Jules encourages Jeanne's independence, secretly teaching her the art of the sword in the palace's labyrinthine basement...
When two of the king's Musketeers are beset by criminals who are mere feet from Jeanne's fencing lesson, she intervenes, saving one of the Musketeers' lives. Hidden behind her mask, Jeanne is mistaken for a man. As "Jean Luc," Jeanne is admitted to an inner circle where she learns of an assassination plot against the Queen. As Jean Luc, she is permitted to bring her intelligence and swordsmanship to bear. And as Jean Luc, she is free to love the mean of her choosing... even if she can never have him. Now, with the Queen in jeopardy, and her own double life making her privy to the tangled intrigues at court, Jeanne is in a powerful - yet increasingly perilous - position.
When I discovered this book, I hadn't really found any fiction set in France during the reign of Louis XIV. The details in the book bring Versailles to life, and research obviously went into finding out what the courtiers' lives were like, the fashion that was in, and what it takes to fence.
Jeanne herself is spirited, yet her spirit clashes with her father, who is trying to gain prestige with the King and fears she will embarrass the family. She is very much a 21st-century woman but her surroundings dictate she be a simpering female. I'm drawn to books with strong heroines, and this one is no exception.