All of France is choosing sides: Catholic verses Protestant, Valois verses Boubon. Which side will prevail? As Duchesse de Guise, Catherine is caught in the middle. Rumors swirl that the King plans to assassinate her husband, but is there anything that Catherine can do to stop the oncoming storm?
Read an excerpt from Catherine’s story, Fate’s Mistress: Book Three of the Three Graces Trilogy.
In the long colonnade, I found my hawking husband slumped over the tall windows. “How is it you managed to get here before I did?”
He gave me a brilliant smile, “My horse was faster. Plus, I didn’t have a retinue and furniture slowing me down.” I had missed his gentle teasing. We had an unusual relationship, one that had allowed us to weather almost two decades of marriage. Neither of us came to our marriage bed an innocent and neither begrudged the other for finding companions outside of that marriage bed. Unlike most wives, I did not trail after my husband in hysterics when I discovered him cheating. Nor did I follow the dictum that I must act a prude and suffer in silence when news of my husband’s infidelity reached my ears. I truly did not mind Henri’s affair with Charlotte de Sauve, but for the danger she posed in acting as a royal spy, she did not threaten me.
The danger that did concern me, however, was Montpensier’s behavior the past few months. “I think that you should do something about your sister.”
He snorted, “Can you do something about your sister?” He had a point; my older sister Henriette and her husband Louis had refused to publicly commit to the League for years. Henri had done all that he could to convince both of them, writing to Henriette several times to ask for her help. My sister was convinced that if they declared for the League, it would spell the end of Louis’ career as an advisor to the King. Given the fact that the rest of the King’s advisors were composed of his toadying Mignons, Henriette might have a point after all. It was not in either of our natures to be moderates, but perhaps, in the event of a disaster, we would need a moderate to plead before the King on our behalf. I hoped that we never came to that point.
“She’s becoming more and more radical with each passing day. I think your mother has lost her ability to reign her in.”
He turned to me, his eyes betraying the weight of his responsibility of leading the Catholic League. “I need someone with her passion in the capital. Paris is the King’s city and she’s much more effective than I am in subverting his policies.” At my cocked head, he held up his hand, “As a woman, she can always plead the fact that she is of the weaker sex if the King decides to come after her. What kind of a tyrant would he be if he threw a widow in the dungeon of Vincennes? The backlash would be more than the King could counter.”
“She’s whittling away your control of the League. She’s too emotionally unstable to control its activities in Paris.”
“And I cannot afford to be in Paris. If I leave the field, the King will immediately put Joyeuse or Epernon in charge of the army and I’ll lose command forever. Besides, the King would not hesitate to throw me in prison. I don’t have a woman’s constitution to save me.” At those words, his eyes raked over me. I had missed that part of our relationship, too. Taking a few steps, I laid my head on his shoulder. He encircled me with his arms and we made our way towards his chamber. Get it here.