Kensington, Feb 2001, 14.00, 384 pp.
In 1650 forces loyal to Cromwell win the Civil War and Autumn Leslie's beloved father dies in battle in support of Charles. Autumn, accompanied by her mother Jasmine, flees to her half-brother's estate, but when the Roundheads kill her sister-in-law in cold blood, the two Leslie women flee to the family estate in France.
In France, Sebastian d'Oleron courts Autumn, earns her love, and marries her. They are happy together and have a child, but he suddenly dies from an apparent heart attack. A year later, when young King Louis XIV learns of Sebastian's death, he provides comfort to the widow and soon they make love. She has a child with him. When Cromwell dies, the King is restored and Autumn returns to England where she seduces King Charles, becomes pregnant, but the child is stillborn. A hero of the restored throne, Gabriel Birmingham loves and loathes Autumn, but he has a history as the man who led the Roundheads when her sister-in-law was murdered years ago.
Although there is much filler material that provides detailed information on some of the stars of previous novels in the saga, this is an exciting historical romance that brings alive the seventeenth century courts of France and England. The story line is fast-paced in spite of the unnecessary flashbacks. The plot requires a bit of a stretch since much centers on Autumn sleeping with two kings, but Beatrice Small makes it feel as if her lead character was truly a real person. This is a solid O'Malley after the next generation tale that will please the diehard series reader.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner