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HFC Editorial Review of "Anne and Louis Forever Bound" by Rozsa Gaston

Author Bio:

ROZSA GASTON writes historical fiction.

She is the author of the award-winning four-book Anne of Brittany Series: Anne and Charles, Anne and Louis, Anne and Louis: Rulers and Lovers, and Anne and Louis Forever Bound. Other books include Marguerite and Gaston, The Least Foolish Woman in France, Sense of Touch, Paris Adieu,Black is Not a Color, Budapest Romance, Running from Love, and Dog Sitters.

Gaston studied European history at Yale and received her Master's degree in international affairs from Columbia. She worked at Institutional Investor magazine, then as a columnist for The Westchester Guardian. Her book Anne and Louis won the general fiction category of the 2018 Publishers Weekly BookLife Prize.

She is currently working on Dangereuse: The Untold Story of Eleanor of Aquitaine's grandmother. She lives in Bronxville, New York with her family.

Gaston can be found online on Facebook at, or at her website, Visit her Anne of Brittany Series Facebook page and become a courtier in Queen Anne's court.

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Editorial Review:

For the sake of France, his duty was to ensure Brittany would be folded into France one day to prevent a Habsburg-Breton hedge around his kingdom. As for his own deepest desire, he knew well that Anne would do whatever she could to dash his Italian aspirations, thinking his time better spent at home. Both were invested in defeating each other’s dearest dreams. Yet he couldn’t imagine life without her.

You’ve heard the expression ‘a man’s man’, well this is a ‘historical’s historical’, meaning that Gaston’s book teaches a lesson about plot-driven, third-person POV historical fiction writing, fluxing with ease between fleshing out believable characters to engaging the reader with well-researched and complex prose, albeit at times lengthy with moments of slight irritating ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing’. However, you can see and feel the authenticity which is a hallmark of good historical fiction.

So many historical characters are lost in the stream of time, so I was intrigued to read the story of Anne of Brittany (Queen of France) and her husband, Louis XII. This fourth book in the series focuses on Anne while she is Queen. Living in an era when most women lose any authority of control over any possessions once they marry, Anne’s marriage to Louis allows her autonomy over Brittany which is near and dear to her heart; yet, her greatest tragedy to date (1508) is the inability to produce a viable heir to her husband’s throne – a son to reign after him and to maintain Brittany’s independence. She pines the loss of her ‘princes’, ones lost in childbirth or at an early age, while she seeks to manuever her daughters into marriages which will suit the kingdom.

In all this, her rival, Louise of Savoy, and Louise’s son, Francis I, (Louis’ intended heir if he produces no son of his own), hover in the shadows eager to see Anne fail in producing a son. Of course, so is the way in politics and breeding in the royal households throughout England and France’s history, so it is not surprising that Louise devises whatever means necessary to see her own son take the throne. The dream of becoming ‘Madame la Grande of France’ spurs her onward.

In your belly lies a future king. What powerful words those were, enough to hang one’s dreams on.

But Louis has his own obsession, as well, and that is his dream to invade Italy and rule Milan, fulfilling his claimed birthright, but Anne knows if he leaves for the fight, their chances to bear a son fades with each passing sunset.

Again, with so many of the scenarios of royal histories following the vein of political intrigue and religious interference, Pope Julius II enacts a treaty with Venice, prompting Louis to take his own action – that of replacing the Pope with his own choice, a decision which will, no doubt, lead to his excommunication... and lead to Anne’s fury.

As a character, Anne is an incredible complex and strong character, leaning on her religious beliefs while fiercely holding her own in a world that might rattle any other woman; and she is very relatable as a mother and wife with enough emotional pathos to connect with her as a real person. As a wife and Queen, the interaction and conversations (and arguments) with the King, as well as some of the other moments which stood out for me, (such as her confrontation with Louise of Savoy), truly add depth to Anne.

Right from the start I liked Louis, as Gaston used the simple act of his talking to his dead grandmother’s portrait to bring him to life on the page – a simple technique, but done quite cleverly. As a couple, this is a royal historical romance of the highest caliber, depicting a King and Queen’s love for each other in the midst of all the conflicts surrounding them, and relatable on the common level of aspirations, goals, dreams, and worries. This story is alive in vivid, rich detail which reveals Gaston’s incredible knowledge of French and European history, the nuances of Renaissance life, along with the twists and turns of the Crown, the Pulpit, and the Boudoir in relation to a King and Queen’s life – intimate and public.

“Anne and Louis: Forever Bound (Anne of Brittany Series Book 4) by Rozsa Gaston receives five stars from The Historical Fiction Company and the “Highly Recommended” award


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