The Hidden Duchess


Celeste, Duchess de Saint Tours, is hiding in the small French country village of Danguin from the Parisian authorities, after being suspected of her husband's murder. Cousins Marcel and Louise Daunou aide her in her deception, as she pretends to be a  widowed woman recently moved from Toulouse. With pre-revolutionary tension mounting, the peasant class is beginning to show their frustration and anger towards any from the noble class, which puts  Celeste in a very dangerous situation. As her heart opens to a future with a man she would have never considered before, her past catches up with her. Her secrets threaten to ruin everything when her former lover appears, wanting to begin where they left off.

From the onset, the reader is drawn into the story even though Celeste is very spoiled and self-absorbed, which leaves little room for sympathy. She seems to feel no remorse or fear, further dragging her character down. All is not lost however — by the middle of the book Celeste begins to care for more than just herself, which will give readers a spark of hope for some admirable qualities. An interesting look at political tension in France and at village life, "The Hidden Duchess"  is largely appealing, even though there is occasional dialogue that seems out of place for the historic time frame.  The sparks that fly between Marcel and Celeste, with a wonderfully described kiss, shoots spectacular fireworks that is a true highlight. A thick web of entanglements keep the suspense and drama flowing quite nicely right through to the end.

Margaret Faria