Published by The Wild Rose Press on July 19th 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Châteaux and Shadows Book 5
Lucas de Granville—pious, respectable, impoverished, lonely—will do nearly anything for the godfather who raised him, even though his godfather doesn’t seem to want to do anything for him.
Melisande—mundane, illegitimate, dirt poor, lonely—will do nearly anything to make sure her mother and brother have shelter and food, even though they are critical of her lack of magical talent.
When Melisande’s father, a pious comte, sends his godson Lucas to bring her to Versailles and help him train her to be a fine, staunchly religious lady, their attraction is immediate, but so is their distrust.
Her eagerness to get as much money as she can as quickly as possible gradually changes into a wish for something higher, better, and holier. Something that Lucas can help her achieve: love.
~~Review by AnnMarie~~
Melisande is the fifth book in the Châteaux and Shadows series by Philippa Lodge. I have only read one other book in the series, but I think I am correct in saying that each book can be read as a stand alone one.
Melisande is a young woman born to a family of magic, witches. Unfortunately for her, she doesn’t seem to have any powers so is a disappointment to her mother. They live in poverty, and apart from being lonely, she is content with her lot. She has never met her father, he was a married man when he got her mother pregnant, and wanted nothing to do with either of them.
Lucas de Granville is the godson of Melisande’s father. Misplaced loyalty and the fact that he has been brought up to be pious, and god fearing, means that he will do anything for his god father, including his latest orders from the man. He has to go into the slums of Paris to find Melisande and bring her back to her father.
Her father, a Comte, having lost his son and heir, believing that he was cursed by Melisande’s mother, has decided he needs to prove how worthy he is of God, how pious he is. He is determined to make Melisande denounce her evil ways and turn her into a pious, respectable young woman, worthy of a marriage to a wealthy family. He has no love for her, he just wants to prove what a powerful man he is to be able to reform such an evil woman!
Lucas finds Melisande and as instructed takes her to her father. Her mother is happy enough to see her go, and tells her she isn’t to return unless she brings wealth with her.
Melisande suffers so much at the hands of her father all in the name of religion. She has to go to prayers so often, on her knees on cold hard floors that they swell and become so painful she can barely walk. She can’t complain though because any pain she suffers her father sees as what is due to her because of the evil she is renouncing. He won’t listen to her when she says she doesn’t ‘do’ spells and isn’t a witch.
Lucas can’t bear seeing how she suffers, but he is torn between his feelings for her and the fact he must be respectful to the Comte. As for Melisande, she tries her best to be all that the Comte expects of her, not realising that his ultimate goal is to marry her off for his own benefit. She has feelings for Lucas, feelings that she knows are not pious, but which she can’t pretend aren’t there. Is there any hope for them? Will Lucas even let his feelings be known? What would be the point when the Comte has plans for her that definitely exclude him!
Although this book does have the possibility of a romance between Lucas and Melisande, it very much takes a back seat in the story. So much so that I wouldn’t actually put this into the romance genre. That said, it is a very deep, dark, emotional read, one that had me near to tears at the treatment of Melisande all in the name of religion. The Comte’s overzealousness was insane and I felt so bad for all the people he controlled! I couldn’t see how there could be a happy ending to the story, but slowly but surely things worked out for the best, and funnily enough in a time when Melisande could have rightfully been nasty, she showed her inner strength, and beauty by what she does.
As this series doesn’t seem to follow various characters through each book, I don’t suppose we will have any updates on our hero and heroine, in which case I wish there was an epilogue to the book. Ideally I would love another book just for those two. I think a lot more can be written about them. I was left wanting at the end of this book.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced readers’ copy of this book.