Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Few Thoughts On Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener PLUS a Giveaway


A young noblewoman flees to London and poses as a servant to evade a murderer in this richly detailed and “compelling” (Publishers Weekly) historical novel.

Frightened for her life after her father, a British spy, is murdered, Giselle Barrington flees with the secret document her father gave her for safekeeping. Needing to hide from those now chasing her, and knowing that no one would look for a wealthy young society lady in a kitchen, she takes a job as a cook for a nobleman, determined to use her anonymity to uncover the murderer. Life below stairs gives her a new perspective on the hard realities of servants’ lives, even though she’s a highly paid one. And when her employer is drawn not only into her investigations, but also to her, they find themselves faced with the power imbalance between servant and master.

Gallery Books | October 22, 2013 | 352 pages

My Thoughts
  • Michelle Diener's latest novel, Banquet of Lies, is set during the Regency period and features as its heroine a young woman - Giselle Barrington - who is forced to flee home to London from Sweden after the murder of her father.   In possession of secret documents her father entrusted to her before his death, Giselle is forced to hide her true identity in order to keep the documents (and herself) safe from her father's enemies.  Unable to assume her place in society, Giselle takes a position as a cook in the home of a nobleman, Lord Aldridge.   It's a position Giselle hopes will allow her to uncover the truth about her father's murder without revealing who she really is.  But Giselle's new employer and co-workers quickly realize there is much more to Giselle than meets the eye.  Can Giselle continue to keep her identity secret?  Can she discover the truth about her father's death? 
  • Banquet of Lies is a fun novel that readers will quickly devour.  Giselle is resourceful young woman, one who is determined to solve the mystery of her father's death even if means she places her own life in danger.   
  • In addition to the mystery aspect of the novel, Banquet of Lies also features some romance.  This romance, which builds slowly as the novel progresses, helps to give the book a lighter feel even though certain aspects of the plot deal with heavier themes. 
  • Giselle is a heroine readers will be able to easily empathize with, but one of my favourite elements of this novel is the cast of supporting characters.   Giselle's fellow servants, with the exception of the butler, are a delight, and I enjoyed Giselle's interactions with them.   Lord Aldridge's associates, Lord Dervish and the Durnhams, prove to be equally compelling characters even though they aren't featured prominently in the novel.   My favourite supporting character, however, is Georges, chef to a Duke and good friend of Giselle's.  George doesn't appear until closer to the end of the story but he injects some timely humour into the narrative.
  • Although Banquet of Lies is an enjoyable novel, I didn't find certain components of the narrative to be plausible -- Giselle's ability to successfully pass for a cook being one of the big ones.   While this won't necessarily be an issue for all readers, I generally prefer plausible storylines to those that leave me thinking "well, that never would have actually happened."  Despite this, Banquet of Lies has enough going for it that I'm now planning to read more of Michelle Diener's novels, especially those that feature some of the supporting characters found in this book.  
  • An engaging novel with a likeable heroine, a solid cast of characters, and a quick-paced narrative, Banquet of Lies is recommended to historical fiction fans looking for something fun, fast and thrilling. 
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Source: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Banquet of Lies is currently on tour.  Click here to check out the tour schedule

About the Author

Michelle Diener writes historical fiction. Her Susanna Horenbout and John Parker series starts with IN A TREACHEROUS COURT.  Set in the court of Henry VIII, it features the real historical figures of artist Susanna Horenbout and Henry's Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King's Robes, John Parker.  It was followed by KEEPER OF THE KING'S SECRETS, also featuring Susanna Horenbout and John Parker, and DANGEROUS SANCTUARY, a short story with the same characters, set between the two books, is currently available as an ebook only.
A new historical novel, set during the Napoleonic Wars in London in 1811, THE EMPEROR'S CONSPIRACY, was released on November 27th, 2012.

Michelle also contributed a short paranormal story to the ENTANGLED Anthology entitled BREAKING OUT. All the proceeds of the sale of ENTANGLED go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Michelle grew up in South Africa, and now lives in Australia with her husband and two children.

For more information, please visit Michelle's website.  You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.


I'm pleased to host a giveaway for one copy of Banquet of Lies.  Giveaway details are as follows:

- Giveaway open to US residents only;
- To enter simply leave a comment below with your email address;
- The giveaway will be open until midnight (EST) on November 10, 2013;
- The winner will be selected using

Good Luck! 

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