Debut author Marci Jefferson's Girl on the Golden Coin brings to life a captivating woman whose beauty, compassion, and intellect impacted a king and a nation.
Impoverished and exiled to the French countryside after the overthrow of the English Crown, Frances Stuart survives merely by her blood-relation to the Stuart Royals. But in 1660, the Restoration of the Stuart Monarchy in England returns her family to favor. Frances discards threadbare gowns and moves to gilded Fontainebleau Palace, where she soon catches the Sun King's eye. But Frances is no ordinary court beauty—she has Stuart secrets to keep and her family to protect. King Louis XIV turns vengeful when she rejects his offer to become his Official Mistress. He banishes her to England with orders to seduce King Charles II and secure an alliance.
Armed in pearls and silks, Frances maneuvers the political turbulence of Whitehall Palace, but still can't afford to stir a scandal. Her tactic to inspire King Charles to greatness captivates him. He believes her love can make him a better man, and even chooses Frances to pose as Britannia for England's coins. Frances survives the Great Fire, the Great Plague, and the debauchery of the Restoration Court, yet loses her heart to the very king she must control. The discovery of a dangerous plot will force her to choose between love for herself and war for her beloved country.
Jefferson's intoxicating first novel superbly draws readers into the mischief and maneuverings, loyalties and treacheries, and lust and hostility of powerful 17th century kings and scheming court sycophants. Frances Stuart, a young distant cousin of King Charles II, and other historical figures reveal the essence of Restoration England in this captivating story. After the execution of Charles I and a controversial stint with Oliver Cromwell, the Stuart dynasty is restored to power in England 1660 with Charles II on the throne. Jefferson's story begins as Frances rejects French King Louis XIV's offer to make her his mistress. A vengeful Louis threatens to expose Stuart family secrets unless Frances returns to England to seduce King Charles, a political tactic intended to help establish a French-Anglo alliance. Jefferson aptly recounts the passionate affair and resulting potential "political calamity," the queen's infertility, the mistresses and illegitimate children, and the turmoil of London's devastating plague, the great fire and the Dutch war. Although the passage of years are somewhat rushed at the end, this is an exciting, solid debut.