Source: From publisher through Netgalley.
Book Description from Publisher Website:
Christophé, the Count of St. Laurent, has lost his entire family to the blood-soaked French Revolution and must flee to an ancient castle along the southern border of France to survive. But the medieval city of Carcassonne proves more than a hiding place.
Here Christophé meets the beautiful widow Scarlett, a complex and lionhearted woman suddenly taken by the undercover aristocrat’s passion for astronomy and its influence upon his faith. Although their acquaintance begins brightly enough, when the Count learns that Scarlett is related to the man who murdered his family, he turns from love and chooses revenge. Heaven only knows what it might take for Christophé to love again, to love his enemy, and to love unconditionally.
Love's First Light is a historical with romance set in France in 1789 & 1794, during the French Revolution. The very beginning was a bit painful to get through (due to the content, see the excerpt), but the rest was very enjoyable.
The world-building was excellent, with historical details that brought the world alive in my imagination. (There was a Statue of Liberty mistake, but it was a very minor detail that wasn't important to the story.) The pacing was excellent and, except for a brief interlude in the middle, the tension remained high.
While I felt that some plot lines climaxed a bit early, the pacing remained fast and the story interesting to to end. The epilogue left a few question in my mind since it didn't fully explain why things ended up the way they did (we're simply told this was how they ended up). I'm not sure most people would even notice, though, since the obvious problems were tied up neatly.
The characters were interesting, and I grew to care about what happened to them. Sometimes I had trouble following the author's portrayal of how Christophé saw the world in a mathematical way, but these descriptions were brief and I still got the point, so it wasn't a problem.
The novel did have Christian elements, but it wasn't preachy. The characters lived out their faith the best they knew how with their lives thrown into confusion. They were searching for answers about God's character and his plan/will when life no longer made sense. As long as the reader isn't anti-Christianity, I don't think the Christian elements would bother them.
There was no sex or bad language. The gore was not graphic as the details were left to the reader's imagination. Overall, I'd recommend this novel was well-written, clean reading.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt from Chapter One
They were coming.
They were coming! Christophé shoved his little sister, twelve-year-old Emilie, through a hidden door in the wall, quickly following after her. He held the door open, waiting for the rest of his family, but they didn't appear. The sounds of the soldiers were close. He had no choice. He let the panel fall shut with sudden finality, leaving them in utter darkness.
His sister whimpered and clung to his broad shoulders behind the pearl-paneled, gilt-molded wall. He held her tight against his quivering body, his palm over her ear, pressing her other ear into his chest so that she wouldn't hear their mother's screams. Too late...His heart felt sick, leaden. They'd captured the rest of the St. Laurent family. He clasped Emilie's filmy sleeved dress in his fist and willed the evil away.
Together they stilled their bodies into stark fear as they heard the rolling wheels of the guillotine. Christophé heard a voice command his mother, the Countess Maria Louisa St. Laurent, to come forward. At twenty-three, Christophé recognized that they'd chosen her first to heighten the horror. He clenched his eyes as the rattle of wooden wheels over the hard floor softened when they met carpet, then stilled. It had reached its place of death and damnation. A heavy thud sounded on the other side of the wall as his mother, shrieking, was locked into place. Wails filled the room. His throat ached with silent screams. A second of shocked silence.
And then the thick thud of the blade.
The second eldest son was next. Christophé heard his younger brother Louis's heavy grunts as they forced him to the guillotine. He remembered when Louis had sounded like a boy, then his voice changed. Still, there was the occasional squeak that they weren't to notice. Finally, when his voice no longer squeaked, his brother shot up four inches in a single summer. How proud Christophé had been of that cool, confident young man.
A guttural yell against cloth broke into his thoughts. He closed his eyes and willed it away.
But this nightmare was far from over. Jean Paul would be next--and so he was. The brother who laughed with him and wrestled with him, who ran across fields with him long after Christophé should have outgrown such things. Jean Paul--brother of my heart!
Christophe's whole being became stilled screams.
His body jerked as the sound of the blade sliced through the darkness. He nearly lost consciousness. His body grew weak, his breath vanished in terror. He lost the strength to hold Emilie. He could only blink in the dark and feel his eyes flow with tears that seemed never ending. His shirt and Emilie's hair became soaked with his silent grieving.
Read the rest of chapter one.