Sunday, October 27, 2013

Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener #NewRelease 5 Star Review!

Banquet of Lies
Banquet of Lies
by Michelle Diener
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 22, 2013 by Gallery Books
Copy: Rec'd early eCopy from Edelweiss

A Secret Treaty and a Secret Life

LONDON, 1812: Giselle Barrington is living a double life, juggling the duties of chef with those of spy catcher. She must identify her father’s savage killer before the shadowy man finds her and uncovers the explosive political document her father entrusted to her safekeeping.

Posing as a French cook in the home of Lord Aldridge, Giselle is surrounded by unlikely allies and vicious enemies. In the streets where she once walked freely among polite society, she now hides in plain sight, learning the hard lessons of class distinction and negotiating the delicate balance between servant and master.

Lord Aldridge’s insatiable curiosity about his mysterious new chef blurs the line between civic duty and outright desire. Carefully watching Giselle’s every move, he undertakes a mission to figure out who she really is—and, in the process, plunges her straight into the heart of danger when her only hope for survival is to remain invisible.

My Review:

This story has everything I love about Diener's writing - complicated, muliti-layered plot, intelligent, well-developed characters, & slowly crescendo-ing romance. In addition, there is a truck-load of French Cuisine. Lol. And I am now in love with French Cuisine!

Giselle is spunky. Her up-bringing is perfect to give her confidence in herself and life-or-death suspicious of everyone else. The opening scene is shocking, heart-breaking... and the book grabs hold tightly, refusing to be put down afterwards and Giselle is the amazing center of the story.

She hides from would-be killers by taking employment as a French cook, having learned from the best cooks in her travels. And this is where she meets Lord Aldridge - a society contemporary of hers who happens to be one of the search party looking for her.


The set-up is asking for trouble... confrontations... awkward moments... and lots and lots of deliciousness as secrets push their way out.

Banquet of Lies is a book that needs to be on the shelf, a keeper to re-read on winter nights and while planning weekly menus. I must add a warning, however, that reading this story will inspire French Cuisine and there might be extra baking and coffee in the near-future.

There is an adult scene (or two) and I feel I should warn those looking forward to it to, um, smell the roses along the journey. The tension is increasing rather rapidly, at that point, and I couldn't help wanting to hurry on to resolution, but Diener allows for intelligent reading and doesn't return to repeat things covered earlier in the story.

My Rating: an enthusiastic 5 Stars. 

Find recipes for the famous Reine Claude Jam and Brioche at Diener's Recipe page!!

Michelle Diener writes historical fiction. Her Susanna Horenbout & John Parker series, set in the court of Henry VIII, includes In a Treacherous Court and Keeper of the King’s Secrets, with In Defense of the Queen set for an August 1st, 2013 release.
Michelle’s other historical novels include Daughter of the Sky,The Emperor’s Conspiracy and Banquet of Lies (loosely connected to The Emperor’s Conspiracy), which will release on October 22nd, 2013.
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 was born in London, grew up in South Africa and currently lives in Australia with her husband and two children.
When she’s not writing, or driving her kids from activity to activity, you can find her blogging at Magical Musings, or online at Twitter and Facebook.

* I have to ask where the idea for the book came from? Why French cuisine?

photo credit: Natman via photopin ccI studied French at university and have a Masters degree in Translation. I love France, I've been there a number of times, and even lived with my French lecturer's family for a month just outside Paris. I had Reine Claude jam and brioche for breakfast almost every morning while I lived there. As anyone who reads the book can tell, that's stayed with me :). I love cooking and baking and other than reading, making something in the kitchen is my favorite hobby. A number of my friends have asked me through the years when I was going to write a book that had some cooking in it, as it is such a big part of my normal life. Banquet of Lies is that book. 

Oh, no way... I'm so jealous! Lol. It sounds so great in the book!!

* And I also have to ask about the cover.  :-D  My goodness!  

I'm so glad you like it! To begin with, we played around with a reverse of The Emperor's Conspiracy cover, to make the thread between the two books more apparent, but we couldn't get anything that really popped and worked as well as The Emperor's Conspiracy cover, so we went with something totally different instead, and I love what the art department at Simon & Schuster came up with.

* What kind of research did you do for the cooking? What comes from experience?

The recipes themselves are all from experience. I have made each dish, and readers can find the recipes on my website ( But what did take research was the conditions in the kitchen, the layout and what equipment would have been available. I read up a lot about Antonin Carême  who was the first real celebrity chef, and worked for the Prince Regent around the time Banquet of Lies is set. I based the Duke of Wittaker's chef, Georges Bisset, partly on Carême, and studied his menus and his methods. British chef Heston Blumenthal has also 'walked' a little in Carême's footsteps, recreating some of his more outrageous recipes, and I give a link to his recreation of Carême's Cock's Testicles recipe on YouTube at the back of the book. Those who've read the book will recognise it as the inspiration for a threat Georges makes to Jonathan when he realizes Jonathan is romantically interested in Gigi.

Oh... wow. I'm so in over my head, but lovin' it!

* Which dish or scene is your favorite?

Courgette & Almond SoupI love courgette and almond soup. So do my whole family. There is just something wonderful, almost mousse-like, about it. 

As for my favorite scene, that has to been the one after Gigi has escaped from the ball and Jonathan is waiting for her outside his house. I love the way they interact there. It is almost as delicious as Gigi's cooking.

Yes!!!  :-D  I love that one, too.

* Do you have a recipe from the book you can share?

I have them all! :) Readers can go here for a full list of all the recipes in the book:

* What are you writing now?  :-D

I'm writing the book that comes after Banquet of Lies. The Duke of Wittaker just leapt off the page for me from the moment I started writing about him in Banquet of Lies, and so he's getting a turn next. 

How exciting!!  I had no idea you made these dishes when I was reading them... they sound so exquisite in the book, but you have RECIPES!!!  :-D  Yay!  And there's more story in this world!  DOUBLE-YAY!!! Thank you for the interview, Michelle, and please keep writing!!

I became an enthusiastic fan of Michelle Diener's books when I read The Emperor's Conspiracy... click on the covers to go to my posts on Colorimetry:

The Emperor's Conspiracy  In Defense of the Queen (Susanna Horenbout & John Parker, #3)  Daughter of the Sky

I'll spill a little secret, too... Prism Book Tours will be sharing a hot-off-the-press fantasy retelling by Michelle Diener after Christmas. Sign up to receive the email notification here!!