1865 Paris is in a turbulent state.
Livia is a simple young woman, a doctor's daughter married and expecting her first child finds herself with a reserved, distant husband
trying to find her feet in Paris. Longing for home when she is befriended by Elisabetta, the Emperor's mistress. Elisabetta herself has
been sent from Turin to spy for her Italian masters and though beautiful and talented she is not the only one to hold the Emperor's interest.
When Elisabetta takes Livia as a friend, Livia slowly begins to relax and feel that she can make Paris her second home.
However Elisabetta is with enemies and when Livia who is well versed in poisons discovers on one occasion a dish of berries mixed with
deadly nightshade she knows that someone is either trying to get rid of Elisabetta or through her kill the Emperor. When Elisabetta is
once again poisoned this time with doctored brandy, Livia has to draw on all her knowledge to get her friend out of danger. The tables
are turned when Elisabetta accuses Livia's husband and brother and a friend of the assault. Imprisoned and without influence Livia must
use all her wit to get her husband out of prison and clear his name.
The story was one of Livia and her husband trying to get into a closer relationship because their marriage was one of convenience.
How adversity brings them together and how Livia begins to understand her reserved husband better is part of the story. It is the
history undoubtedly which takes precedence over the personal story. Set within Napoleon III's era it is full of intrigue and
always full of plots to overthrow him.
Added to this was that each chapter began with a description of a common poison - its appearance, its symptoms and its final outcome. It added a
piquancy to the story.
Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.