Charles II is restored to the throne, Cromwell is dead. Monarchy will rein once more in England. Amber St. Claire, a seemingly yeoman farmer's daughte...moreCharles II is restored to the throne, Cromwell is dead. Monarchy will rein once more in England. Amber St. Claire, a seemingly yeoman farmer's daughter happens across cavaliers one day and begs to be taken away from the country and travel with them into London. Here she believes, an entrancing beauty such as herself can live a larger and more important life. Lord Bruce Carlton is just the means to do it. She believes she can charm him like all the other men in her life.
Amber is a complex character, her story is about her rise and subsequent follies once she is left alone to fend for herself in London. She is vain, rash, immature and yet she is beautiful, resourceful and cunning. You will cheer her schemes and wish she fails. She does not let people, poverty, birthing children, the deadly plague, or the great fire of London stop her. She definitely uses her beauty and man's infatuation to help her rise in status in life. Amber finds that life in London isn't as easy as she thought. She is taken advantage of. Subsequently landing her in jail, the theater, a mistress, a wife a few times.
Her only love, Bruce keeps coming back to Amber's life. Each time he finds her in a better position in life, he secretly suspects that her life hasn't always been so care free each time he leaves her to travel. Carlton is an adventurer, disguised as a privateer for the Crown, Bruce refuses to crawl on his belly in Court to regain what was once his or clamor and scheme for power. He is a very respectable man in most regards, except for his refusal to marry Amber.
Possibly at first it was for her own good, but traveling through this sweeping saga, I cannot help but think that at times Amber channeled her inner Scarlett O'Hara. Bruce definitely is a different character than the other men in Amber's life. He keeps insisting about not marrying Amber, he's smart, and selfish, and I can't help but think channeling his inner Rhett Butler at times too.
I would recommend this book to any lover of great historical fiction, by complaint was that although it was detailed and you get a great representation of Charles' court, this story could have been shorter. I read on Wikipedia that the resulting 972 pages of this book was edited down by 1/5 from its original manuscript. I don't want to give too many spoilers away, if you are thinking of trying this book, I would say go for it! (less)