by Karen Harbaugh

January 2004
ISBN: 0-553-58421-9
Reviewer Graphic Button Bantam Books
Mass Market Paperback

France before the Revolution glitters darkly in Dark Enchantment , an unusual story by Karen Harbaugh. As readers, we are swept up in the struggles of an English king trying to retrieve his throne. We are intrigued by the French king, Louis XIV, who keeps a close eye on his nobles for fear of rebellion. Mostly though, we are deeply drawn to the trails and sufferings of a young French noblewoman who has seen the terror in the dark and longs only for a safe harbor.

Catherine de la Fer finds herself in Paris. She has no real memory of how she got there. Living on the streets and in the alleys of the city, she has seen the worst of humanity. Evil reigns in those dark places. Catherine understands evil and suffers its presence severely. There are dark secrets in Catherine's past that reach across the distance trying to find her. In saving a young girl's life, Catherine is injured. Her rescuer will lead her from the darkness back among the living and help her learn to live with her affliction.

Sir John Marstone, or Jack to his friends, is on a mission for the exiled King Charles. He is trying to raise money and gain Louis' support for Charles' war against Cromwell. He has never known anything other than his devotion to his king. Until the night he rescues a young French woman and enters into a struggle for her soul. Jack takes Catherine in. Teaching her how to fight with sword and dagger, he is drawn to her beauty and strength.

When danger threatens, Catherine and Jack fight with their very lives hanging in the balance. For love, to them, isn't just about each other, it is about kings and loyalties. It's about surviving and healing the wounds of yesterday with the promises of tomorrow.

This story reads more like an adventure than a true romance. Since I love action and adventure, I enjoyed it. The romance is secondary to the showdown between Catherine and the evil nobleman who sought to harm her. Being torn between his king and Catherine, Jack's character displays all the feelings that every soldier has when it comes to having to choose. Harbaugh does a good job with making Catherine a strong female character who is quite capable of taking care of herself, but who choses to lean on someone else when she needs to.

Dark Enchantment gives us another wonderful glimpse into France before the revolution. It shows the glitter of the Sun King's court and a French countryside before the terror took over. With the detail that has come to mark all of her books, Karen Harbaugh has written another intriguing tale. I hope to see more books about the unusually gifted de la Fer family

Reviewed in December 2003 by Jenni.

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