I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener
Published by Gallery Books on October 22, 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
A Secret Treaty and a Secret Life
LONDON, 1812: Giselle Barrington is living a double life, juggling the duties of chef with those of spy catcher. She must identify her father’s savage killer before the shadowy man finds her and uncovers the explosive political document her father entrusted to her safekeeping.
Posing as a French cook in the home of Lord Aldridge, Giselle is surrounded by unlikely allies and vicious enemies. In the streets where she once walked freely among polite society, she now hides in plain sight, learning the hard lessons of class distinction and negotiating the delicate balance between servant and master.
Lord Aldridge’s insatiable curiosity about his mysterious new chef blurs the line between civic duty and outright desire. Carefully watching Giselle’s every move, he undertakes a mission to figure out who she really is—and, in the process, plunges her straight into the heart of danger when her only hope for survival is to remain invisible.
After Giselle witnesses the death of her father, she’s forced to go into hiding in order to find out more about the document for which he was killed for. The document that her father entrusted to her right before he died. She takes a position as a French cook in the house of Lord Aldridge yet she struggles in this position, not used to being a lesser servant. Once she discovers that it’s a political document that could very well change the fate of England she seeks to get it into the right hands but that’s easier said than done.
I loved the concept of the plot yet the characters were damn near unbearable, most especially Miss Giselle “Gigi” Barrington. Yeah, that’s a mouthful. Instead of being a charming and funny lady that struggled with her temporary change in social class she was snooty, pretentious and completely unlikable. At one point she wakes up to go down into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee only to discover the coffee that was in the house had gone bad so she practically demands that coffee be purchased even though Lord Aldridge was not a coffee drinker.
“…trying to deny her coffee, was a declaration of war.”
Oh, shut up, Gigi and come off your high horse. Now I’m all about my caffeine too so I get it but I’ve never reached the point where I was about to go all Napoleon on everyone just because I didn’t get a cup. Plus, it’s like she was constantly forgetting WHY she was in the situation she was in. I mean hello, you watched your father get stabbed to death just a few short weeks ago and that same man is searching for you yet you’re waging war over coffee. Priorities, my dear. So this story could have been vastly more interesting if Giselle wasn’t such a stuck up snob.
The romance between Gigi and Lord Aldridge was something that was completely unnecessary and only added to the overly dramatic flair this book had going on. The two knew each other when they were children but it was mentioned that Gigi was always ignored in favor of her gorgeous mother and that Lord Aldridge was always flirting with her even though she was almost twice his age. Yeah, that doesn’t set up some major awkwardness. You never noticed me when I was younger because you were too busy flirting with my mother? Oh gross, no thanks. So because of his complete lack of awareness of Giselle in her earlier years, he doesn’t even recognize her now so she’s able to slip into the position as Cook in his household. Oh, but naturally there’s something intriguing about her that interests him. Maybe because she’s grown up and looks more like her mother?
Bottom line, I loved the political aspects and the espionage and the fact that Giselle was introduced as a headstrong and confident woman but anything interesting about this book slowly dissolved the more snooty Giselle got and the more ridiculous Lord Aldridge got over the crush on his cook. Simply didn’t work for me unfortunately.