"Enchantress of Paris" details the rise and fall of Marie Mancini, niece of the powerful Cardinal Mazarin and possible true love of Louis XIV. Destined for convent, the willful and clever Marie strikes out on her own after catching the eye of the young Louis. Her uncle seeks to use her to control the king, but Marie sees Louis as more than a pawn. Their love electrifies the court, but as time comes for Louis to wed, Marie must outwit her uncle in an attempt to forge her own destiny.
"Enchantress of Paris" is similar to Marci Jefferson's debut novel "Girl on the Golden Coin" in that it details the life of a king's mistress. Pitted against forces larger than herself, Marie is determined to outfox the horoscope cast by her astrologer father and live her life happily. She is bold and cunning, but not without heart. The love she has for the king forces her to do the wise thing but not without consequences to herself and those around her. She is ultimately defeated by her uncle--she loses the battle, but not perhaps not the war as she goes on to live a scandalous but full life.
The characters are well drawn; Marie sparkles with vibrancy while Louis is young and all too trusting--truly the man before he becomes the great Sun King. Cardinal Mazarin is perfectly wicked while a host of other characters manage to carry their own plot points. The pacing starts to lag towards the end as Marie and Louis struggle in vain to be together, but character investment at that point spurs the reader on.
Marci Jefferson brings 17th century France to life in "Enchantress of Paris"; lovers of historical fiction will enjoy this new novel.