Release Date: 31st January 2012
Book Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour
Synopsis: Thanks to her patron and great architect, John Nash, Belle Stirling is a rising star in the homes of London’s fashionable elite. Even the prince regent wants her elegant, high quality fabrics used in the decoration of his new palace, Brighton Pavilion. But when those closest to her conspire against Parliament, she risks losing her reputation, her business. . .and even her life.
Set during the early 19th century Regency period, By The King's Design is a thoroughly engaging read with easily digestible historical details for those not too familiar with that period in history.
The Luddites, the burgeoning industrial revolution and subsequent social unrest, the Cato Street Conspiracy all made for really interesting reading and my education of the extra-curricular vices of the "extra-corpulent ... extra-repulsive" Prince Regent George Hanover were certainly expanded upon. Sadly, the future King George IV was also well known for his extravagance in the face of England's starving and dying.
We follow our heroine Belle Sterling from Yorkshire to London where she sets up her own drapery shop, is taken under the wing of renowned architect John Nash and receives a lucrative commission from the Prince Regent to provide drapery for the new palace, Brighton Pavillion.
Belle is an endearing character, she's intelligent and hard-working but I did question her judgement where her brother Wesley was concerned. Wesley's a total sap, weak and flighty and I wanted to slap him, hard. Actually I wanted to slap Belle a few times too ... how many times did she have to be duped by her brother before coming to her senses.
The hero of the story and Belle's eventual romantic interest is Putnam Boyce, of "Put rhymes with shut" fame. Put is extremely likeable, a cabinet maker and true gentleman but Belle tries to hold him at arm’s length while fiercely maintaining her independence, no easy feat for a woman in this era.
This was my first Christine Trent novel but it's safe to say it won't be my last.
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