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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Author J G Harlond takes us back in time to 17th century Europe in her political thriller By Force of Circumstance (The Chosen Man Trilogy Book 3). Ludo Da Portavenere has certainly led an adventurous life. High-born but illegitimate, Ludo has been a corsair, a merchant of spices and silks from the East, a secret agent and a sea captain, but one thing he has never been is anyone’s puppet. When a former nemesis, the priest Father Rogelio forces him, under extreme duress, to participate in a scheme to get hold of the English Crown Jewels, which the exiled Queen requires to sell to help fund her husband’s civil war against Cromwell and the Roundheads, excitement and danger are sure to follow. Trying to manoeuvre safely through the political machinations of 17th century Europe was always fraught with danger and this particular exercise will test all of Ludo’s remarkable skills of evasion and chicanery. Reuniting with his former lover, Alina, the now widowed Baroness Metherall, and his old partner Marco Alonso Almendro will ensure Ludo does not have to face the evil Rogelio alone, but their presence also places additional burdens on him, burdens he would possibly rather not have.
By Force of Circumstance brings 17th century Europe alive for the reader. I love it when an historical novel manages to teach, through its setting and characters, something of the flavor of the time and events that we may have been unaware of. Author J G Harlond has certainly managed to achieve that in this exciting and intriguing tale. As a reader I was totally transported into the era, the sense of privilege felt by the aristocracy of the 1600s, the courage of the men who sailed those tall ships halfway around the world in search of the elusive silks and spices, and the sheer level of chicanery, blatant arrogance, and self-service that epitomized the ruling classes and, of course, the Vatican, at that time. The author’s research has, I’m sure, been extensive and as a history buff I am pleased by that. Although this is clearly the third book in this series, not having read either of the first two in no way diminishes the enjoyment of this story. The author made excellent moves to drop hints as to what had happened previously and why certain characters acted the way they did, based on the two earlier stories. I can highly recommend this read and can pay the author no greater compliment than to say I am motivated to go back and read books one and two of this trilogy.