Title: The Flower Reader
Author: Elizabeth Loupas
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Format: Paperback, 408 Pages
ISBN-10: 0451235819 (Penguin/NAL)
ISBN-13: 978-0451235817 (Penguin/NAL)
Reviewed by: Kiwi
With her dying breath, Mary of Guise entrusts a silver casket to Rinette Leslie of Granmuir, who possesses the ancient gift of floromancy. Inside the casket, and meant only for the young Mary, Queen of Scots, are papers the old queen has painstakingly collected—the darkest secrets of every Scottish lord and explosive private prophecies prepared by Nostradamus. Rinette risks her life to keep the casket safe, but she makes a fatal mistake: she shows it to her beloved young husband. On the very day the young queen comes home, Rinette’s husband is brutally assassinated.
Devastated, Rinette demands justice from the queen before she will surrender the casket. Amid glittering masques and opulent weddings, courtly intrigues and Highland rebellions, the queen’s agents and Rinette herself search for the shadowy assassin. They are surrounded by ruthless men from all over Europe who will do anything to force Rinette to give up the casket—threatening her life, stripping her of her beloved castle by the sea, forcing her to marry a man she hates, and driving her from the man she has reluctantly grown to love. In the end, the flowers are all she can trust—and only the flowers will lead her safely home to Granmuir.
Quick & Dirty: A story of murder, mystery and flowers — with a touch of romance.
Opening Sentence: I hated the queen, hated her down to the deepest marrow of my bones.
Rinette Leslie is a girl with a special power I haven’t previously heard of before. The myths surrounding the gift of floromancy have apparently been around for millennia. Floromancy is the ability to read flowers for the purpose of telling a person’s future, and Rinette does a damn good job of it.
In the beginning of the book, Rinette is a ward of Mary Guise, the queen regent of Scotland, and upon her death, reverts to the “protection” of the lord of her father’s family, or the lord of her mother’s family, as these two are apparently at war over the matter. Both want custody of her so they can marry her off to their choice of husband, and thereby take control of her family estate. But Rinette has her own choice for her future, and so she sneaks back to her home, and marries Alexander Gordon, the one and true love of her life. And they are happy together, and merrily making babies, until the return of Mary, Queen of Scots to her native homeland.
You see, upon her deathbed, with her very last breaths, Mary of Guise has entrusted Rinette with a dangerous task. She gave Rinette responsibility for a silver casket full of papers, that is to be handed over to the new Queen upon her arrival. This is no ordinary family heirloom, however. This casket is full of some of societies most dangerous secrets, and a secret set of prophecies from Nostradamus himself. These papers must be kept secret from everyone but the new queen herself — so says the dying queen regent.
There is only one teensy problem. Rinette’s beloved husband Alexander has convinced Rinette to open the box, and at once he recognizes the content’s potential retail value. So he sends out a set of letters to those he knows are willing to pay real coin for the casket and its contents.
On the day they arrive in Edinburgh to hand off the casket, they are brutally attacked. An attack that sends Rinette into labor and a delivery that almost costs her life. When Rinette wakes she finds herself a widow and new mother, and in the middle of some sort of super secret spy thriller. People are after her secrets and no one cares whether they have to take lives to get them.
Rinette can now think of nothing but finding her husband’s killer. And now that she is a widow, her “protectors” are back on her case. So, she makes a deal with the new queen. She will only relinquish the silver casket after her husband’s murderer is found, and if she is allowed to retain her estate and her status as a single woman.
As time goes on her husband’s killer remains undiscovered, and her family more anxious. Mary forces Rinette to give up the casket, and she agrees. But when she goes to retrieve it, it is no longer in its hiding spot. So the queen reneges on the whole deal, and Rinette is left without justice and with a husband she never wanted.
Fast forward some time spent in a small portion of hell. Rinette finds a way to run from her husband back to her estate, and for a time is content. Until one day fortune steps on her door in the shape of Nico De Clerac, who was also a member of the court of both Queen Marys. With him is a message from the queen, and a chance at a better life and a new love.
I will admit, this particular brand of book is a bit outside the realm of my everyday reading habits. Not a bad book though, not bad at all. The writing is well done, the story line complex and intriguing. And you can tell, without reading the foreword and reader’s guide at the end, that the author really did her homework. Woven into this story is just the right amount of actual historical fact. Heck, even the silver casket is based on a real item that you can still find in a museum.
“Are you here to spy on me Nico?”
“No. I want to stay because I feel stillness and peace here.”
I looked into his eyes and I knew what he was going to say and I wanted him to say it and I was terrified he was going to say it.
“And because I love you,” he said very gently. “Surely you know that? I want a few days with you, here at Granmuir—it may be all I will ever have.”
My heart stopped.
“Oh, no,” I said. “Nico, no. Please, no.”
He let go of my arms and lifted his hands away from me. “What, do you think I am asking you for anything? I am not, other than perhaps your presence, or a chance to look at the sea with you and talk a little. And you need not so that, even, if it does not please you. My precious soul, my love, to breathe the same air that you are breathing will be enough.”
I started to cry, as much like a child as Màiri or Kitte. I could not help myself, and I put my hands up to cover my face so he could not see how contorted it was. “It pleases me,” I managed to choke out. “I am glad you are here and I want you to stay, if we can…if we can…keep apart from each other. To simply look at the sea and talk with you sounds like heaven.”
FTC Advisory: Penguin/New American Library provided me with a copy of The Flower Reader. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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