I like to witness authors using familiar classics for the setting of their stories. Being the fan of The Scarlet Pimpernel that I am, I was intrigued that the author decided to tell her own story with this setting, so I decided to give it a chance.
Set in the backdrop of the French Revolution, a French aristocrat named Mademoiselle Dacia de Prideux is framed for her brother’s murder by a revolutionist. With the help of Sir Percy Blakeney and some members of the league of the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel, who helps innocent aristocrats escape the clutches of the dreaded guillotine, she flees the country and hides out as a maid in the employ of an Englishman. Can she hide from the man who framed her all the while trying to keep her façade as a lowly maid in the employ of the handsome Richard Harris, who seems to have an idea about the truth of her identity…?
- Setting. As I mentioned before, I am a fan of the intrigue of this era of history, as violent as it was, due to the stories I’ve read about the sacrifices many made to save innocent lives from the guillotine. However, with this story, it’s nice that readers get a fresh tale outside of the main setting of revolutionary France and instead set it in a country away from the turmoil to instead focus on the intellectual fear and stratagem our protagonists exhibit to protect themselves.
- Classic spin-off done right. I like the author’s idea to use the main characters of a classic story as side-characters instead of the main protagonists. It allows more freedom for the author to tell a different tale.
- Predictability. While it is a fresh spin on a classic story, it had some of the same ingredients one would expect in a proper romance: the man is engaged to a woman he does not love, the protagonist feels she is not worthy of his love, and (perhaps most visibly) each main character has their own tragedies that cause distance between one another at the beginning, but their love inspires them to communicate their feelings at the end.
- Protagonist. While she was a well-rounded enough character, I think she was a little more defined by her title than she should have been and came off a little too “damsel-in-distress-y” in my opinion.
Overall, I thought it was a proper historical romance that had a good plot, though some of the characters’ actions were a bit predictable. I liked how the author didn’t info-dump on readers about the classic upon which it is based, and she also serves readers who may not have read Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel with just enough information about the setting/characters that invites them to infer what each characters’ role will be in this story.