Amid the disapproving gossip of the Court, a royal romance defies all obstacles.
The Court of François I is full of lust, intrigue, and bawdy bon temps—a different world from the quiet country life Diane de Poitiers led with her elderly husband. Now a widow, the elegant Diane is called back to Court, where the King’s obvious interest marks her as an enemy to the King’s favourite, Anne d’Heilly. The Court is soon electrified by rumors of their confrontations. As Anne calls on her most venomous tricks to drive Diane away, Diane finds an ally in the one member of Court with no allegiance to the King’s mistress: his teenage second son, Henri.
Neglected by his father and disliked by his brothers, Prince Henri expects little from his life. But as his friendship with Diane deepens into infatuation and then a romance that scandalizes the Court, the Prince begins to discover hope for a future with Diane. But fate and his father have other plans for Henri—including a political marriage with Catherine de Medici. Despite daunting obstacles, Henri’s devotion to Diane never wanes; their passion becomes one of the most legendary romances in the history of France.
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|Title of eBook: Courtesan|
|Release Date: 07-25-2006|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Crown Publishing Group|
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In dawn's semidarkness, she stood ankle deep and motionless at the river's edge, her tall silhouette blending with the bare white elms which braided through the cloudless winter sky over Beaumont-sur-Sarthe.
The pungent aroma of wood smoke from village chimneys mixed with damp earth and laced the air near the shore as she plunged naked into the icy water. She felt the chill, sharp like needles, as it quickly turned her skin to gooseflesh, but to Diane, discipline was sacred. Defiantly, she moved deeper into the rapid current. She finally came to the surface, water dripping from her hair and face, and her alabaster skin glimmering with the sheen of early morning light on water. A flock of geese flew in precision above her, but made no sound. In this state of meditative peace, she bathed alone until the thoughts returned and her mind began once again, to echo the fear.
It is too late . . . You cannot turn back now . . . You have come too far . . .
Since she always bathed at dawn, Diane reached the inn just as the royal coachmen were loading the first of her brocade-covered trunks back onto the King's coach. Six of His Majesty's best Spanish stallions swayed as two of the guards attached them to a tooled silver harness. At least four of the animals were required to pull the awkward lumbering vehicle. Diane grimaced at the prospect of another long ride in it. The price of the King's hospitality, she reminded herself, and looked away. Before her in the cobblestone courtyard, two mongrel dogs fought over a scrap of meat. They had garnered all of the attention from the velvet-tuniced coachmen so that she