Ever daydream about being kidnapped? You’re swept away by a total stranger to a romantic place, leaving behind those dirty dishes, your new puppy throwing up on your best decorative rug, and the insurmountable to-do list. Where would you like to be taken?
France? Paris, perhaps? Chenonceau Castle has always been my dream. About ten years ago, after watching an episode of the Travel Channel featuring three castles in the Loire Valley, Chambord, Cheverny, and Chenonceau, I was hooked. My husband entered the family room reading a newspaper when I pointed to the TV. “We’re going there.” And so we did. All three royal residences were magnificent, but there was something extra special about Chenonceau.
Perhaps it was the imposing gray white structure with blue turreted roofs, or the rose colored bedroom with its canopied bed and carved fireplace, maybe it was the manicured gardens, or best yet how the waters of the River Cher flowed underneath the castle. The “Chambre de Secrets”, rumored to be Catherine de Medici’s secret hiding place for poisons, true or not, peaked my writer’s imagination.
In my newest novel, SHADOWS ACROSS TIME, my strong-willed heroine, present day antique dealer Danielle deForet, is tricked into completing an appraisal on a rare French piece, when her client, a sinister wizard, whisks her back to 16th century France and you guessed it, Chenonceau. Danielle is held captive in a room resembling the rose bedroom awaiting her dismal fate as a crucial link in a spell for the queen. The wizard selects a brave young knight, Sir Aidan, to guard her. A most handsome knight, Aidan and Danielle soon fall in love and he plans a risky escape.
Chenonceau is known as the “Chateau de Dames”, because three strong women contributed to its longevity. Built in 1513 by Katherine Briconnet, King Henry II purchased it after her death from her son and gifted the castle to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. (Why is it always the mistress?) She added the arched bridge that crossed the river as well as the gardens that still surround the structure. To her misfortune, she made the castle so beautiful that when the king died, Catherine de Medici, his widow with the alleged poison room, desired to own the chateau forcing Diane out. Madame Dupin later protected Chenonceau from being destroyed during the French Revolution. With all these formidable women in mind, I knew Danielle had to be just as strong and just as resolute if she hoped to foil the powerful wizard’s plan.
My heroine is beautiful, smart, and determined. The more I imagined her story, the more I knew Chenonceau was the perfect backdrop. I visualized Danielle traveling up the exterior staircase, visiting the opulent throne room, and meeting the wizard in a fictionalized version of the poison room. She was brave as she walked in disguise eager to escape off the arched bridge to meet her lover on horseback. Their swashbuckling adventure, the journey of their lives through the thick forests to be sheltered by resisters, begins here.
Now, it’s your turn. Danielle, and Aidan, along with a sinister wizard and cunning gypsy seer await your visit to Chenonceau in SHADOWS ACROSS TIME available in print and e-book.
Romance That Transcends Time