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Dark Angels: A Novel Paperback – May 29, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this sprightly prequel to her bestselling Through a Glass Darkly, Koen transports readers to the Restoration court of England's King Charles II. As England recovers from civil war, the court is awash in intrigue, treachery and debauchery. Koen's protagonist, Alice Verney, "a born courtier, wily, patient, steadfast," and maid-of-honor to Queen Catherine, moves seamlessly through this glittering world. When King Charles's sister is poisoned, Alice suspects the mysterious Henry Angel is responsible and has Queen Catherine as his next target. Alice allies with the duke of Balmoral, a statesman and one of the king's advisors whom she hopes to wed, and the young handsome Richard Saylor, the commander of the Queen's Guard, to foil Angel's plot and expose the conspirators within the English government. As she races to save the queen, Alice is increasingly torn between the wealthy, powerful duke of Balmoral and the lowly but dashing Saylor. Koen knows her material and painstakingly recreates the Restoration period. Her large cast—both historical and fictional—are sharply rendered, and the larger-than-life Alice makes a memorable heroine—imperious, even vindictive, but always unwavering in conviction. Koen blends history, mystery and romance to craft a historical romance that will delight fans of the genre. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Karleen Koen has been largely absent from the literary scene for 20 years, and critics who enjoyed Through a Glass Darkly herald her return. Reviewers agree that Koen's deep knowledge of world politics and daily life during the Restoration contributes to the strength of her writing, which appears undiminished by her time off. Her handling of romance is delicate, with passion confined to a few kisses and clearly peripheral to the plot. The real focus is scandalous intrigue, much of it based on historical fact. The novel's length bothered some, but all agreed that Dark Angeles is a richly imagined historical romance.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (May 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307339920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307339928
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My childhood was filled with glorious books, Little Women, Lad A Dog, Black Beauty, Little House on the Prairie, Caddie Woodlawn. They were as real to me as the life around me, a lower middle class one in a small oil refinery town in Texas. My grandfather, an invalid, was a huge fan of the writers Frank Slaughter, Frank Yerby, and Zane Grey. By the time I learned to read, I was sneaking his square, cheap (a dime, I think) paperbacks off and reading them. Pirates. Passion. History. It has never occurred to me to write anything but historicals, a kind of time travel into other minds, other lands, other eras, other cultures, other worlds. That's what I wish for my readers, that my books take them far away into another place and time and that they enjoy themselves there and maybe even learn an interesting fact or two.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Huston on October 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Of late there seems to be quite a few books being released about Charles II of England and Restoration England. This I don't mind at all, since I'm always on the look-out for a good read, fiction or otherwise. And author Karleen Koen certainly knows how to craft a good story, filled with plenty of details, dark deeds, and romance. Having written two previous novels, Through a Mirror Darkly and Now Face to Face, she takes one of the major characters from the previous works, and gives new depth and understandstanding to Alice Verney in Dark Angels.

Alice Verney is a tough young survivor, serving the King of England's sister, Henriette-Anne, as one of her maids-of-honour. Married at a young age to Louis XIV's brother, Monsieur, Madame is coming to England to visit her beloved brother, Charles II, and Alice is coming with her. Of course, for stubborn Alice, it's also going to be a chance to see her machinating father, Sir Thomas, and the man who jilted her for one of her best friends. It's a rare chance to serve up a dish of cold revenge, and Alice is more than ready to do so with a plan that will not only catapult her into the heights of the king's court, but also enable her to snap her fingers at any future trouble as well.

But that is going to take some patience and skill, as Alice's target is rather unaware of her scheme. The Duke of Balmoral is elderly, and the uncle of Lord Colefax, the man who spurned Alice years earlier. Cole, married to the stuttering Caro, is still hot for Alice, so she is not only dodging her former suitor, but others who are interested in her as well. Finally, there are Alice's fellow maids-of-honour, her friend Barbara, shy and loving a man who has little to recommend him and Renee, a beautiful French girl of good birth and little money.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 7, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Is there a more fascinating time or place than the court of King Charles II? I cannot think of one, and Karleen Koen lends her pen to bring it alive in "Dark Angels".

Koen has a knack for hooking the reader early on with hints and promises, and interesting characters. She writes romantic heroes, heroines and villains extremely well, as readers of "Through a Glass Darkly" know. I flew through the pages and loved the characters, costumes and themes centering on the struggles between love and greed or jealousy, forgiveness and revenge, and strategic scheming and surprise. Koen transports you to the decadent Courts of the Sun King (Louis XIV of France & creator of Versailles) and Charles II of England, and drapes you in damask, jewels and lace, and on the next page sends you to seedy brothels and privy court chambers for some debauchery, drunkeness and gambling. Regicide, religious wars, royal gossip and exploits, romance and gold digging rule the day. It is delicious fun!

The real story of "Dark Angles" introduces us to Alice Verney who is first a young Maid of Honor to Princess Henrietta Anne of France (sister to Charles II of England) and then a not-so-young Maid of Honor to the shunned Queen Catherine in England. She's had her heart broken in love and loyalty through the betrayals of a friend and lover, and the murder of Madame, Princess Henrietta. Alice puts up a condescending, stand-offish front in an attempt to protect herself and others, and finds that such a barrier isolates us from those we love, rather than keep them close. She is sassy, spoiled, scheming and sophisticated, and yet disillusioned by life at court. We see an early glimpse of the life lessons that shaped the loving, accepting and wise grandmother we met in "Through a Glass Darkly".
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. Mahoney on July 28, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had to force myself to finish this book in order to feel qualified to review it. Koen's other book, "Through a Glass Darkly" is one of my favorite historical novels, and I probably read it once a year. This one, however, is just not enjoyable. After I had read 1/3 of it, I still felt no connection to Alice, the main character. The writing was very disjointed, and it was very hard to tell who was talking or being talked about a lot of the time. I loved the character of Alice as the grandmother in "Through a Glass Darkly", and I was really looking forward to reading about her younger life. The Alice in "Dark Angels" did not mesh with the character as I knew her in the other book, and I wish I had never read this one. Very very disappointing.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By S. Martinez on September 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It is true that Dark Angels is different from Koen's first and very successful novel, Through A Glass Darkly (as well as different from the sequel Now Face to Face), however, this is truly Koen's finest work to date.

Barbara of TAGD and NFTF was the conventional romance heroine: beautiful, plucky, encounters misfortune but ultimately prevails. Alice, the grandmother of TAGD, is a more complex, more realistic, more human character. I found myself rooting more for Alice than I ever did for Barbara, who had too much going for her too young.

People who have never read Karleen Koen, and who would scoff at the typical romance novel, should read this book. It is full of carefully-researched details about the late 17th century (an extremely interesting time that truly lays the groundwork for the modern era in which we live). Koen brings this century to life. I felt transported to that time, which I have found very rarely in books and movies that attempt to portray times other than our own.

Whether you're a TAGD fan, looking for a good story, or a European history buff, I recommend this book. It has enough of the "old" to remain interesting to Koen fans, with plenty of the "new" style to attract first-time Koen readers. Don't miss it.
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