This entertaining historical romance covers a time period that I do not often see addressed and the author does a wonderful job of creating a fascinating tale that presents women in non-traditional roles. I love women who are proactive and willing take control of their destiny and the group of women surrounding Queen Eleanor of Aquitane each have different strengths and truly function as her guards. I am not so enamored of some of the weaknesses displayed by some of the companions yet I guess that is what makes them human. Unfortunately, history has never been my strong point and I am a little confused about the relationships between all of the factions jockeying for power but this does not detract from my enjoyment of the story. The tragedies that have shaped both of the main characters in this particular story are troubling to read about but undoubtedly have honed them into the strong individuals they have become. I look forward to reading about the other charismatic women who comprise the Queen’s Guard and recommend this story as an enjoyable read to anyone who loves the pomp and pageantry of tales that feature the royalty and their companions.
“The Queen’s Guard: Violet by Traci E. Hall is a historical romance set during the Crusades and features the remarkable women who serve Queen Eleanor. Isabella de Lacey (Bella) is a widow who swore never again be abused the way she was by her husband. Her assignment to spy on Emperor Manuel’s closest guard and trusted advisor, Raoul Laskaris, becomes complicated by her attraction to the prickly and defensive man. The delicate diplomatic dance is compromised by the actions of Bella’s fellow guards and their presence in exotic Constantinople becomes even more precarious as external forces continue to jockey for position. Raoul and Bella must weigh their commitments to their respective lieges even as they explore their mutual attraction but the end result may still be a choice between treason and love.
In 1147, Queen Eleanor and King Louis VII traverse to Jerusalem for the Second Crusade. Along with her fancy bedding and wine, the wily, young queen brings five lovely and talented women—spies identified by a signature garden scent. Among them is the beautiful widow Isabella de Lacey, aka Violet, whose duty is to infiltrate Emperor Manuel’s inner circle and skillfully extract information. Will he aid the queen’s cousin or betray the alliance for one with the Turks? To find out Isabella must woo the emperor’s man, Raoul, whose soul is as black as his eyes and passion both terrifies and captivates her. Set in Constantinople, this historical romance is the first in a series about the clandestine network of female spies beholden only to the powerful Eleanor of Aquitaine.