I like fantasy in my historical fiction books, as long as it's not distracting. Just the right amount of fantasy will do it, and The Dark Queen had just the right amount.
Taking place during the French Renaissance, The Dark Queen tells the story of the Cheney sisters, daughters of the earth, most specifically the oldest Ariane, known as the Lady of Faire Island. Not only does she have a Comte perusing her hand in marriage, but a mysterious stranger has arrived on Faire Island, with strong evidence against Catherine de Medici for the death of the Queen of Navarre.
While Ariane tries to crack the evidence to prove how evil the Dark Queen is, she also finds her feelings about the Comte de Renard changing. Oh, and there's also a deranged witch hunter running around, which isn’t helping matters.
I like Ariane. She was a strong woman despite her feelings that she would never be as good a Lady of Faire Island as her mother. She eventually finds her strengths and even surprises herself when she meets Catherine face-to-face.
This was a fantastic historical fiction novel. It had everything: romance, action, intrigue and magic. After I finished with it, I had to dive right into the next book in the series, which is about the next Cheney sister Gabrielle, who we find out in The Dark Queen is haunted by a horrible memory.