I cannot state this enough: I have been waiting for this book for years! While I haven’t read the original Three Musketeers, I have watching the TV series and have always had a soft spot for Milady. A badass woman who’s a spy and an assassin?? Um, hell yes! And (thank god), Milady by Laura L. Sullivan does not disappoint. It is the feminist retelling my heart has been calling out for. Milady is willing to do anything to protect herself and the people she loves, and she loves so deeply. Something I suspect is not portrayed in the original novel. Before I get too carried away, let’s get to the review!
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
I’ve gone by many names though you know me as Milady de Winter: Villainess, seductress, a secondary player in The Three Musketeers story.
But we all know history was written by men, and they so often get things wrong.
So before you cast judgment, let me tell you of how a girl from the countryside became the most feared woman in all of Europe. A target for antipathy, a name whispered in fear or loathing.
I don’t need you to like me. I just need to be free.
It’s finally time I tell my own story. The truth isn’t tidy or convenient, but it’s certainly more interesting.
Milady (her real name is Clarice) has humble beginnings. Well, ok, she still lives in a huge house, but she lives with her mother, and they garden, take care of the animals around their home, help the villagers, and overall, enjoy each other’s company. It becomes clear early on that her mother is teaching her how to use plants for certain purposes. Which, as you can imagine, comes in handy later in her life. But one day, her father arrives and after seeing her beauty, decides he is going to take her to court and use her as a pawn to gain favor with the King.
This starts a sequence of events that cannot be undone. She falls in love with a boy who is also learning to be a spy, but he turns out to be the exact opposite of what she thought. Let’s just say, she catches him in a compromising position with the King. After realizing everything he told her was a lie, she finds a another man to have fun with. But she is caught by her father and sent to a nunnery. I would have ended up in a nunnery. Lol I have authority issues.
And oh the nunnery! Milady, at first, has no intention of behaving. She wants nothing more than to go back to her mother. But luckily, she soon makes a friend in another girl named Connie. (If you’ve read the original book, yes, this is Constance). They tell each other stories and rebel in their own way. They look out for each other and come up with a plan to escape. How are they going to escape? By tricking a man, of course! She makes a priest fall in love with her.
But the plan was never needed in the first place. A boy she grew up with who isn’t much of a boy anymore comes to take her back to her mother. He takes her to cottage in the forest and she’s finally allowed to see her mother again. Unfortunately, her mother is very ill. But despite that, Milady is upset they couldn’t bring Connie with her. She gave Connie her word that she would save her too. So, at night, she goes and grabs Connie from the convent and they escape. Unfortunately, when she gets back, Connie, Milady, and her childhood friend are separated and she ends up having to deal with the priest after all.
The story of Milady’s past culminates with her meeting and falling in love with Athos. But once he finds out who she really is, he betrays and tries to kill her. But, that is only half the story.
The book is split between Milady’s past and her present where she is the spy/assassin that we all know (and love). She must sacrifice the lives of the ones she loves and her own in order to escape from the men that have haunted her for most of her life. But do her and her friends live or die by the end of the book? You have to read to find out.
Milady is by far one of the best books I’ve read this year. One small note: make sure you read the author’s note. Laura L. Sullivan goes into certain parts people seem to gloss over in the original book and I learned a few things I didn’t know. It is eye-opening. Milady is a story of struggle, fight, sacrifice, and women doing what they must to get what they want. I am giving Milady 4 out of 5 stars. I love this story. I need you all to read this book, so you can scream with me.
Milady by Laura L. Sullivan comes out July 2, 2019.
Thank you to First to Read and Berkley Books for the free eARC in exchange for my honest review.