Monday, 14 September 2015

Sharon Reviews: Duval and the Empress's Crown by Michele McGrath

Please see below for details regarding an ebook giveaway of this 
enjoyable read, kindly donated by the author
The Prize draw was made on Tuesday 22nd September. Thank you to everyone for entering and for your kind comments. And the winner is....Lauren Pullen! Congratulations Lauren.

"Police Agent Alain Duval is tasked with finding the crown but time is very short and his suspects many. Present when the crown disappeared are Napoleon's sisters, Princess Elisa, Princess Pauline and Princess Caroline. Are they involved or merely witnesses? Aided by his wife Eugenie and his friends Lefebvre and Fournier, Duval sets out to unravel the mystery." 

   Ever since I was a teenager I've had a soft spot for the Napoleonic Period.  Napoleon's story has always fascinated me; the rise of an obscure Corsican to become the most powerful man  in France (a novelist just couldn't make it up!). So when the chance came to review a novel of the period I jumped at it.Duval and the Empress's Crown is not the longest book you'll ever read. At just shy of 100 pages, it's short and sweet. But it is a little gem. From the first words you are drawn into the world of Imperial Paris, still recovering from the petrifying post-Revolutionary Terror, but looking forward to the pomp and pageantry that accompanies an Empire.
   And into this world are thrown 3 friends: Duval the former soldier, Fournier the career policeman and Lefebvre the reformed thief. They work for Napoleon's feared Chief of Police, Fouquet. With just days until the coronation of Napoleon and Josephine, the Empress's crown is stolen from the jeweler tasked with creating it. Duval and his friends are given the unenviable task of finding it - in time for the coronation.
   It's a race against time...
  To make matters worse, it soon becomes evident that the prime suspects are the Emperor's own sisters; the Princesses Elisa, Pauline and Caroline. Duval has to be both determined and diplomatic in order to recover the crown in time for the coronation, just days away. With the Terror still only a recent memory, Duval has to tread very carefully, or he could end up not only with a ruined career, but facing the guillotine! 
   Duval and the Empress's Crown is a great detective novel, full of adventure, intrigue and royal scandal. The story takes you through the investigative process in great detail, while giving you the human side of the lead characters. The three policemen enjoy a wonderful relationship, and the book is at its best during the scenes when they are together. Their banter seems natural and easy and makes the reader smile:
 [Duval] "What about my lame leg?"
[Lefebvre] "What about it? You ran at such a high speed when Monsieur Duclos was firing his pistols at you, I couldn't catch you up, lame leg and all"
[Duval] "Just as well he was such a bad shot...."
   You are also treated to glimpses of the glamour and power of the French Empire by visiting the salons of the Emperor's sisters, as Duval tries to unravel the mystery of the crown's disappearance. He has to tread carefully with the wily Elisa and pregnant Caroline. And then there is the Emperor's over-familiar sister, Pauline:

"Let us be comfortable while you tell me what my brother wants of me"

Although this is the fifth book in a series, it really doesn't matter. It is eminently readable as a standalone, with only vague references to the previous novels in the series - ensuring you don't feel like you are missing anything. The author has done a wonderful job of taking the reader on a journey through post-Revolutionary Paris. You can still feel the long shadow of the guillotine, while being treated to a glimpse of the splendour and elitism of the emerging Imperial court, where careers are made and ruined by the whim of one man...
   Duval and the Empress's Crown is a wonderful, easy, light read. The plot is not over-complicated but flows smoothly and swiftly to its conclusion. Whilst it could benefit from deeper descriptions of locations and events the characters are well-developed, amusing and capable of eliciting a range of emotions from the reader.

   It's a wonderful novel for a lazy day in the sun. A highly enjoyable read.

If you would like to get your name in the draw for this fabulous book, please leave a
comment below or on our Facebook page

About the Author:

 Award winning author, Michele McGrath, was born on the beautiful Isle of Man in the middle of the Irish Sea. She has lived in California, Liverpool, France and Lancashire before returning home. Living in Paris and Grenoble taught her to make a mean ratatouille and she learned the hula in Hawaii. Michele is a qualified swimming teacher and manager, writing self help books on these subjects. Although she writes in many genres, her real loves are historical romance and fantasy. She has won numerous writing competitions, had second places and been short-listed many times. She has had tens of thousands of sales and downloads.


Sharon Bennett Connolly has been fascinated by history for over 30 years. She has studied history academically and just for fun – even working as a tour guide at historical sites. She is now having great fun passing on that love of the past to her 10-year-old son. Having received a blog,  History...The Interesting Bits as a present for Christmas 2014 she now enjoys sharing that love of history with her readers.


  1. This sounds like a fun read for one of those days when the spirit needs to soar.

  2. I have left scathing one and two star reviews of at least eight novels set during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic period because the history has been so mangled as to be unrecognizable, ad the authors clearly had no business whatever attempting to navigate the dangerous shoals of this exciting period. And as some folks know, my academic field is the Napoleonic era. So I can say with absolute honesty that this book, which I rated a five star read on Amazon, nailed the historical aspects--as did Duval and the Infernal Machine--and is also very well-written.

  3. Great review, sounds like a book that must be read

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  5. Great review! Sounds like its going to be a great read. Thank you for the opportunity to win this book. Good luck to everybody but I hope that I win thank you have a great day

  6. My favourite period too but for the review I might just have missed this a view from an aspect I had never thought about thank you Sharon

  7. Thank you Sharon for the wonderful review. I am glad you enjoyed the book so much. Also thanks to everyone here for your kind comments.