Blurb: Rinette Leslie of Granmuir has the ancient gift of divining the future in flowers, but her gift cannot prepare her for the turmoil that comes when the dying queen regent entrusts her with a casket full of Scotland's darkest secrets. On the very day she means to deliver it to newly crowned Mary, Queen of Scots, Rinette's husband is brutally assassinated.
Devastated, Rinette demands justice before she will surrender the casket, but she is surrounded by ruthless men who will do anything to possess it. In the end, the flowers are all she can trust-and only the flowers will lead her safely home to Granmuir.
First, an admission: I was in love with Elizabeth Loupas’ first novel, The Second Duchess. It was one of the best books I read last year –even better than many of the offerings from more established historical fiction authors. I raved about the book to anyone who would listen and found virtually any excuse to recommend it to others. Needless to say, I was incredibly excited about Loupas’ follow-up novel, The Flower Reader.
Marina, known as Rinette, is the heir to a great Scottish estate, a relation to the French crown, and a close friend to Mary of Guise, the French-born Scottish queen. She also has the unique ability to divine the future from flowers, an ability that makes her an asset to the crown as well as a danger. When Mary of Guise trusts a casket filled with the secrets of the Scottish nobles and predictions from Nostradamas to Rinette, her life is changed forever. Rinette promises to protect the casket until it can reach the hands of Mary’s daughter, but soon finds the deadly consequence of that promise. Her beloved husband is killed, she becomes the target of numerous court schemes, and is forced to marry a man she hates.
The Flower Reader takes a more unique approach to historical fiction than just about everything else on the shelf right now. Rather than being primarily biographical, Flower Reader is a historical mystery surrounding the perilous court of Mary, Queen of Scots, but explored through the eyes of a purely fictional character. In fact, many of the characters in this book are fictional (more than the average historical fiction novel, I’d say), as is the plot. And honestly, I thought this was incredibly refreshing for the genre, especially since Loupas made the characters feel so real. They absolutely came alive on every page, and I got completely engrossed in Rinette’s story and struggles. I was cheering for her the entire time, even when it seemed like all was lost.
Would I say that The Flower Reader is as good as The Second Duchess? That’s a tough one. Both novels are very different and follow very different subjects with unique approaches, but Flower Reader is a worthwhile follow up that is easily one of the best book I’ve read so far this year. I’d recommend it to any fellow historical fiction reader.