The Confessions of Catherine de Medici: A Novel, C.W. Gortner
"Catherine de Medici uses her natural and supernatural gifts to protect the French throne in Gortner's (The Last Queen) portrait of a queen willing to sacrifice happiness and reputation to fulfill her family's royal destiny. Orphan Catherine has her first vision at age 10, and three years later is betrothed to Henri d'Orleans, brother of the sickly heir to the French throne. She heads to France with a vial of poison hidden among her possessions, and after negotiating an uneasy truce with her husband's mistress, she matures into a powerful court presence, though power, she learns, comes at a price. Three of her sons become king in succession as the widow Catherine wields ever-increasing influence to keep the ambitious de Guise clan at bay and religious adversaries from murdering each other. Gortner's is not the first fictional reinterpretation of a historical villainess—Catherine's role in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, for instance, is recounted in a way sympathetic to her—but hers is remarkably thoughtful in its insight into an unapologetically ruthless queen".
Devil's Cub, Georgette Heyer
"The Marquis of Vidal is a bad lot a rake and seducer, reckless, heedless, and possessed of a murderous temper. He is known by friend and foe alike as the "Devil's Cub." Yet as the handsome and wealthy heir to a Dukedom, he is considered a good prospect on the marriage market. Vidal currently has his eye on the young, lovely, and unintelligent Sophia Challoner, and Sophia's greedy mother is more than happy to encourage his dubious attentions. The colorful and eccentric characters fall over each other's plots, get involved in very peculiar coincidences, engage in colorful derring-do, and generally make life difficult for each other. Narrator Michael Drew manages to distinguish one character from another without the verbal gymnastics that the plot would seem to require, allowing the listener to concentrate on the Shakespearian plot and priceless dialog. Enthusiastically recommended for libraries where romance and/or Heyer are popular".