First Line Friday — Queen of Exiles

1 Sep

I am so excited that Vanessa Riley will be a participating author at the book festival that will take place in my hometown in January. She writes historical fiction featuring strong women of color. I purchased her latest novel, Queen of Exiles, in anticipation of the festival book club that I will be facilitating. It looks fascinating. And I love the cover!

Here’s the first line:

Dumping the contents of my last trunk onto the floor, I wanted to shriek.

Acclaimed historical novelist Vanessa Riley is back with another novel based on the life of an extraordinary Black woman from history: Haiti’s Queen Marie-Louise Coidavid, who escaped a coup in Haiti to set up her own royal court in Italy during the Regency era, where she became a popular member of royal European society. 

The Queen of Exiles is Marie-Louise Christophe, wife and then widow of Henry I, who ruled over the newly liberated Kingdom of Hayti in the wake of the brutal Haitian Revolution.

In 1810 Louise is crowned queen as her husband begins his reign over the first and only free Black nation in the Western Hemisphere. But despite their newfound freedom, Haitians still struggle under mountains of debt to France and indifference from former allies in Britain and the new United States. Louise desperately tries to steer the country’s political course as King Henry descends into a mire of mental illness.

In 1820, King Henry is overthrown and dies by his own hand. Louise and her daughters manage to flee to Europe with their smuggled jewels. In exile, the resilient Louise redefines her role, recovering the fortune that Henry had lost and establishing herself as an equal to the kings of European nations. With newspapers and gossip tracking their every movement, Louise and her daughters tour Europe like other royals, complete with glittering balls and princes with marriage proposals. As they find their footing—and acceptance—they discover more about themselves, their Blackness, and the opportunities they can grasp in a European and male-dominated world.  

Queen of Exiles is the tale of a remarkable Black woman of history—a canny and bold survivor who chooses the fire and ideals of political struggle, and then is forced to rebuild her life on her own terms, forever a queen.

Vanessa Riley writes Regency Romances and Historical Fiction of dazzling multi-culture communities with powerful persons of color. Vanessa writes for historical romance readers who admire and acquire books that showcase women who find joy in sweeping kisses and strong sisterhoods. Even in the darkness, she promises to give you laughs and to show you how light always prevails and how love always, always wins.

Vanessa juggles mothering a teen, cooking for her military-man husband, and speaking at women’s and STEM events. She loves baking her Trinidadian grandma’s cake recipes and collecting Irish crochet lace. She’s known for her sweeping romances and humorous delivery of poignant truths. You can catch her writing from the comfort of her southern porch with a cup of Earl Grey tea.

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2 Responses to “First Line Friday — Queen of Exiles”

  1. Cindy Davis September 1, 2023 at 11:35 am #

    I hope you enjoy this one! So many reasons she could be shrieking, LOL! Have a great weekend!

  2. Nicole Santana September 1, 2023 at 11:58 pm #

    Happy Friday!
    I’m currently finishing One Kiss Alone by Nichole Van. I just discovered her works…man, is she an amazing storyteller!!!
    “Ethan guided his horse up the lane to Thistle Muir, so very soul-heavy and weary he sagged in the saddle.”
    I hope you have an excellent weekend! 😀❤️📚

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