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  • Writer's pictureChristina Francine

Madam in Lace

Third book in Gini Grossenbacher's American Madam series.

JGKS Press, 2021

Review by Christina Francine

“The cur ran his purple tongue across his lips. The former guards reappeared, their mouths open in hangdog delight. She recoiled. Horrors. No one said this would be easy, but she had to get past these Cerberean hellhounds.”

One-line descriptor:

A historical heroic young woman fighting-the-odds plot during the economic Paris crisis of 1857-1858. Intriguing characters with a strong sense of place.

Twenty-year-old Celeste yearns to pull her mother from the tumultuous Paris to live safely with her in San Francisco. When she finds the home where she spent the first fourteen years of her life, she wonders if the place had been lived in since that day when men came and took her mother away. Her mother had run a Paris brothel until that fateful day, and now no one seemed to know what had become of her. After a lot of detective work, Celeste learns her mother may still be locked away, and the locals claimed death was the only way prisoners left. In an attempt to keep her daughter safe, Celeste’s mother had sent her to New Orleans six years ago to stay with Cousin Madame De Salle, also a brothel-keeper.

While searching Paris/Montmarte Celeste stumbles into revolutionaries working to overthrow Emperor Napoleon III. Even if she had no part in their plans, she would meet the same fate as they would if caught. When she learns they know where her mother is but won’t tell her, she decides to continue anyway. She wouldn’t leave Paris without her. Still, Celeste is considered a part of the rebels, and despite herself, falls in love with one of them.

Grossenbacher’s third book in her American Madam series is as entertaining and educational as her second: Madam in Silk. She sets scenes using actual details and selects words that fit the time and culture. Her research included traveling to hilly Montmartre to study Paris and visiting the royal apartments where Louis Napoleon III held his autumn court. And when it came time to write her tale, she included real historical revolutionaries: Felice Orsini, Carlo di Rudio, and Thomas Allsop. Readers will be transported to the Normandy region and the historical Mont St. Michel in 1857. For those who enjoy romance and fiction based on actual history. Vivid and highly atmospheric. Madam in Lace won’t disappoint.


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