Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"My Brother's Crown" by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

#1: My Brother's Crown  -     By: Mindy Starns Clark, Lesile Gould
In this time-split novel about the Talbot family, Renee Talbot, a forensic scientist, is home to Virginia for the donation of a family document--a pamphlet that aided the Huguenots in their escape from persecution--to the Smithsonian. However, besides the known map and hints for escaping Huguenots, there appears to be a second code hidden in the pamphlet, one designed by her ancestor's brother as a special code with his sister, and the discovery intrigues Renee. Armed with recent advancements in technology, she also wants to check out an old crime scene that has haunted her and her three cousins since childhood. In the late seventeenth century France, Catherine and her Huguenot family are trying to find a way to avoid persecution without the loss of the fortune and business the family has amassed, but Catherine is appalled to discover her brother's consideration of conversion to the Catholic faith. With her fiance inclined to always follow her brother's lead, Catherine is unsure where the future will lead--but she knows she cannot convert to Catholicism. But where does that leave her relationship with Pierre?

Generally speaking I prefer historical novels to contemporary, but I actually found myself more fascinated by the contemporary storyline in this book than the historical (which was kind of too bad, since the historical dominates the story, and the contemporary is the one that was decidedly NOT wrapped up. Presumably it will be continued through the series - probably over four books). So now I have to wait to find out what happens next.

I was surprised to find a murder mystery in the contemporary storyline; I wouldn't say it's a suspense at this point, but it certainly has potential to become one. It's an intriguing mystery that goes back to the cousins' childhood, only now--nearly two decades later--being brought back into the light. I really want to know where it goes! I also enjoyed the cryptology aspect of the storyline as Renee tries to crack the code to see what message is hidden in the pamphlet.

The historical storyline reminded me of stories of the French Revolution and Civil War, with underground groups moving the persecuted peoples to safety. This has the novelty of being about a time period that I know very little about--I don't recall ever even hearing about the Huguenots in school, only in my reading since then. It was a fascinating glimpse of the history. However, I was a bit frustrated with how naive, headstrong, and childish Catherine was (a deadly combination for common sense), though Jules and Pierre annoyed me too, since they never entrusted her with anything that might improve her naivete and maturity. However, I'm interested in seeing what happens next in the Talbot family line, and how they end up with in the paper business in Virginia.

Cousins of the Dove
1. My Brother's Crown
2. My Sister's Prayer
3. My Daughter's Legacy (2017)

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