“The Flower Reader” is a new novel by Elizabeth Loupas. The main character, Rinette Leslie of Granmuir, endures so much at the hands of others just because the dying queen regent of Scotland leaves a silver casket in her care. The small casket contains secrets of Scottish lords and prophecies from Nostradamus. The Queen requests that Rinette pass this along to her daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots.
Rinette grew up with young Mary. Rinette has a gift that allows her to use flowers to predict the future. Her talents are sometimes requested. Rinette is quite happy with her new husband, Alexander, and is looking forward to the upcoming birth of their first child. Since she hasn’t had a chance to deliver the casket to Mary, she decides to hide it in a secret vault under the cathedral. Rinette entrusts Alexander with the secret of the casket. While walking with her husband one night, they are attacked. An unknown assailant cuts Alexander’s throat and flees. The sudden attack causes Rinette to go into labor. A healthy baby girl, Mairie, is born. Rinette is still mourning the death of her husband, so it takes her a little time to get used to the idea of having a baby.
When Mary returns to Scotland, Rinette decides to tell her about the casket. However, she chooses to use the casket as a bargaining chip. She informs the Queen that she will deliver the casket as long as the Queen helps her find her husband’s murderer. Rinette also demands a promise that the Queen will not force Rinette to marry. The Queen agrees. Rinette recounts the events of her husband’s murder. She remembers the dagger that slit Alexander’s throat. Unexpectedly, Nico de Clerac offers to help her investigate and to try and locate the owner of the dagger.
It seems like everywhere Rinette turns, everyone is interested in the casket. People seem to think that if they possess it, they have the power. Meanwhile, Rinette has to protect herself and Mairie. Rinette finds out that Alexander had been using the casket to his own gain. He was discussing the casket other royals in hopes of selling it to the highest bidder. Finally, Rinette realized how much trouble this casket had caused and decided to deliver it to the Queen. When the Queen’s court members followed Rinette to the hiding place, she discovered that the casket was missing. The Queen and her court believed that Rinette was lying and forced her to marry Rannoch Hamilton. The Queen’s court believes that Rannoch will make Rinette reveal the casket’s hiding place.
Rannoch is a cruel man. He forces himself on Rinette and abuses her. He locks her in the tower of his home and will not let her visit her friends or daughter. When Rinette gives birth to another daughter, Rannoch takes her away and will not let Rinette see her. Finally, Rinette only wants to save her new daughter, Kitte, and herself from Rannoch’s cruel ways. She receives help from two of Rannoch’s servants and they help her escape and return to her home.
At home, Rinette is asked to come back to court. She asks the Queen for a divorce and protection from Rannoch. She knows that he will not stop until he gets his daughter so he can claim Rinette’s home and land. When Rinette is attacked again, she comes face to face with her first husband’s killer. She is also confronted by Rannoch once again. Luckily, Nico de Clerac is keeping a close eye on Rinette and helps prevent Rannoch from hurting Rinette. Finally, the infamous casket is presented to the queen surprising everyone. Rinette finds herself attracted to Nico, something she never thought she’d ever feel again.
I was impressed by Rinette’s strength and passion for her life. It is still disheartening to read about how little women’s voices were heard during the 1500s. Rinette wants to raise her daughters by herself but she’s forced to marry someone that she doesn’t love and who is cruel to her. She has no say as to how to live her life. I liked how her gift of flower reading was incorporated into the story. It was interesting to see how flowers spoke to Rinette. There were a lot of characters in this book, and sometimes I found it hard to remember who they all were. However, there is a cast of characters section in the beginning of the book. I had to double-check this a few times.
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Book Disclosure: A book was provided by the publisher.