~ About the Book ~
Angélique, a sheltered young woman, gives birth to twins, Antoine and Hugo, who, though born at the same time, have been fathered by two different men. Twenty-five years later the twins both fall in love with the same woman and the brewing rivalry between them reaches the breaking point.
Antoine, a successful captain of the French army but a man estranged from God, is accused of disloyalty to the state religion by his jealous brother, Cardinal Hugo. He is given a royal ultimatum to prove his loyalty: either betray the woman he loves or see his mother killed and family lands confiscated to the crown.
Meanwhile, Hugo weaves plans of his own which threaten to bring the monarchy of France to its knees, little suspecting the cataclysmic forces his actions will unleash. Rich in scriptural allegory and explosive action, Twiceborn is an epic drama of love, redemption and the power of God.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: #1 Secrets of Versailles
Release date: 10 December 2017
Publisher: Christian Faith Publishing
~ Excerpt ~
“What was the heretic’s name, dear cardinal?”
“Skyla, my liege,” Hugo responded readily.
“Ah, yes . . . Skyla!” Louis dramatically sighed. “Such a heavenly name to be wasted on such an unworthy, hellbound creature! Yes, this Skyla has supposedly turned your heart away from the true faith.”
Antoine went rigid at the mention of her name. He stared accusingly at Hugo, whose face wore a benign smile. The rabid creature is actually enjoying this! Antoine seethed. He’s planned this down to the smallest detail. His fists clenched but he kept his face void of emotion.
“Please show us, Capitaine de Limoges, that you have resisted the lure of the fairer sex. Show us that you have not fallen into the same snare as did the worthy King Solomon, whose heart was turned away from the true God by beautiful and foreign women.” Louis emphasized the word foreign to be sure that Antoine did not miss his contempt.
“You will show us your love, fealty, and complete devotion by bringing the heretic Skyla here to our court by the tenth hour of the night of the Saviour’s birth. That will allow you sufficient time to travel to the hovel occupied by the wench, regain her trust, and bring her back to us as a captive.” Louis sniffed as though the mention of the woman brought a foul smell into the room. “Here she will be examined and, if found guilty of espousing the doctrines that are rampant among the heretics, she will hang unless she recants and returns to the true faith. The tolerance of Protestants within the realm does not extend to those outside of our domain, particularly those who sow seeds of sedition in the minds of our leaders.”
“My lord, this is madness! How could any man question my loyalty to you? Is not my past service proof enough?”
Louis’s temper began to rise. “Madness you say? You dare accuse your king of insanity? Have a care de Limoges.” His voice was edged with steel. “Do not forget to whom you speak. Do you deny that you ever loved the woman?”
Antoine could not move, could not speak, could not even think. He felt as though the one remaining pillar of stability in his world had just come crashing to the dust. The king was asking him to choose between the woman he loved and the country he would die for. His god, the man he had idolized, was asking him to betray Skyla, the woman who had saved his life!
“And what of my brother?” Antoine challenged. “Did he tell you that he loved her too and she rejected him? Did he confess that he tried to have his way with her while my hands were chained to the wall of a Spanish prison? Did he tell you that she barely escaped the clutches of his lustful grasp when I was powerless to do anything about it? No, Cardinal Hugo de Limoges is far too holy for such acts of lust and petty jealousy.” His tone was mocking but he was beyond caring.
Louis did not hesitate to answer. “We have no doubts of your brother’s loyalty or of his ambition. It is you who must convince us. You must choose now, mon capitaine,” Louis concluded. “Which do you consider greater: the love of your country or the love of your woman? Show us your undying loyalty, and we will promote you to honor beyond your comprehension. You will lead our armies to victory! Fail us and we will crush you and all that you love. What will you do?”
~ Review ~
If it’s drama and intrigue you’re after, look no further. I mean, twins fathered by two different men? There’s your first clue. (And believe it or not, it’s biologically possible. There’s even a name for it: heteropaternal superfecundation.) Now put these men in the indulgent court of Louis XIV, the ‘Sun King’, and sow the seeds of discontent, because while the brothers are unaware of their unusual paternity situation, their parents are. Jean-Phillipe de Limoges forgave his wife for her infidelity, but he’s never been able to embrace the twin who is obviously not of his seed. But revenge and ambition are volatile bedfellows, and twenty-five years is more than enough time for resentment to come to a head when one has continually sought to earn his father’s love but never received it…
Coupled with the drama and intrigue are some strong spiritual themes. Faith versus religion, the far reaching consequences of deception, our response to temptation, love and sacrifice versus ambition and selfishness. At times I thought the desire to communicate certain messages drove the story a little too obviously, but I was definitely intrigued to see how the story would end.
As dramatic and engaging as this story was, however, there were a few elements that weakened it for me. The first was the head-hopping. I prefer to stay in one character’s point of view for any one scene, and found it distracting to change throughout. The second was that the characters didn’t quite manage to become real to me. I was engaged in their story, but in the same way I might be engaged in a fairy-tale. Given the historical setting of the story, I was hoping for a little more complexity in the characters.
The third point contributed to the second, and that was the use of miracles. Regardless of where you stand on the subject of miracles theologically, as a plot device they’re fraught with problems. In this case, they were too self-serving to the plot to come across convincingly, adding to the sense that I was reading an epic fairy-tale rather than historical fiction.
That said, the author has a strong writing style and a flair for drama and action, and I look forward to seeing what he produces as he continues to hone his craft.
I received a copy of this novel from the author. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ Other Books in the Series ~
~ About the Author ~
JP Robinson is an award-winning author who lives with his wife and three children in Pennsylvania, USA. He began writing as a teen for the Times Beacon Records newspaper in New York. He holds a degree in English Language & Literacy and is a state-certified teacher of French history. He loves writing vivid, high-adrenaline plots laced with unexpected twists.
Born to praying parents who were told by medical doctors that having children was impossible, JP Robinson’s life has been filled with experiences that prove the power of God. Now he writes to share that power with his readers.