Sense of Touch: Love and Duty at Anne of Brittany’s Court by Rozsa Gaston
SUMMARY: In July of 1497 Anne of Brittany, Queen of France, gives birth to a son. Within hours the child joins the five dead siblings who came before him. In the mournful weeks that follow, fifteen-year-old Nicole St. Sylvain meets Philippe de Bois, a young horse trainer breaking in one of the queen’s stallions. The attraction between the two is immediate, but duty and honor bring their romance to an abrupt halt. They work together to heal the horse’s infected hoof, then part ways. As the daughter of a wealthy but untitled merchant, Nicole exists in a precarious social position. Her family has money, she is the sole heir, but she is only noble on her dead mother’s side. An arranged marriage to an established noble family will secure her future but dash any hope she has of a life with Philippe. When the queen’s only living child falls ill, she remembers Nicole’s skill as a healer. If Nicole’s healing sense of touch can save the royal child, will the queen reward her with the greatest desire of her heart–marriage to her one true love?
REVIEW: Let’s start with, “I’m a sucker for historical romance that has plausible characters.” That said, I loved this book. Rozsa Gaston’s well researched foray into Anne of Brittany, the life of a noblewoman at court and the 15th century is spot on. She successfully and artfully blends fact and fiction to create an unforgettable tale.
Narrated by a young woman of noble birth, Nicole St. Sylvain, the reader enjoys a fleeting glimpse behind the closed doors of court life. How one must behave true to their station and how a delicate dance alongside loyalty and love can change one’s situation is very present in this novel. Nicole falls in love with Philippe de Bois, a horse trainer sent with a stallion as a gift to the Queen. Nicole, as a healer, proves her unusual strength of character and devotion to her love, animals, her life station, and her queen.
Anne’s story alone is compelling, and one I was not so familiar with before reading this book. She suffers loss with grace and dignity, and has an inner strength, one she shares with Nicole as the plot unwinds. Gaston deftly weaves the tapestry of her story while paying homage to a lesser known but deserving historical figure. Well written, well developed characters and accurate historical information make this book a winner. Exquisite and eloquent, Rozsa Gaston shows Anne of Brittany and Nicole to be modern women well ahead of their times. Don’t miss this!
- Publisher: Renaissance Editions
- Release Date: May 13, 2016
- ISBN-10: 0984790624
- ISBN-13: 978-0984790623
Rozsa Gaston writes playful books on serious matters. Women getting what they want out of life is one of them. Rozsa studied European intellectual history at Yale, then received her master’s degree in international affairs at Columbia. In between, she worked as a singer/pianist in New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Corfu, and Abu Dhabi. She lives in Bronxville, NY with her family.
Her motto? Stay playful.