After his defeat at Waterloo, Napoleon Bonaparte and his entourage are exiled to the tiny island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic. It is the last place on earth he wants to be, but he’s determined he won’t be there long. His mind is already working on ways to secure his freedom.
Nineteen-year-old Charlotte Knipe is dubbed Rosebud by Napoleon on the night of their meeting. He sees in her exactly what he’s looking for—a conduit to the civilized world and hopefully his freedom as well. It isn’t long before he’s recruited her and her fiancé in London to help him provide misinformation to the British government.
Charlotte is thrown into a whirlwind that uproots her from her home and sends her spinning off to Europe to help spread the news of the emperor’s abominable treatment. She will meet poets and powerful liberals before returning to Saint Helena and the man who dubbed her Rosebud.
This book did not turn out to be what I was expecting when it was pitched to Red Hot Books. We do, after all, review ROMANCES and the description mentioned a “clandestine affair”. I went into Napoleon’s Rosebud expecting a steamy, secret romance between Napoleon and Charlotte, but that’s not what I got. And I suppose it’s my mistake for not doing more research (Amazon does not have it listed as a romance). This is a historical fiction novel with only the occasional, short, nondescriptive encounter thrown in and that disappointment colored my entire impression of this novel.
I diligently read the first third or so of this book, with the growing suspicion romance was not forthcoming. I then started skimming the rest, stopping here and there to ‘check in’ with the story. Nothing exciting seemed to really happen for a long time, just letter-writing back and forth and political machinations to make Napoleon miserable. Once events started coming together, I found the story marginally more interesting.
Mr. Knipe’s characters aren’t half-bad. He seemed to capture the era and the self-styled emperor well and penned decent supporting characters. I will say that I disliked how Charlotte treated her fiancé, Daniel, and how he basically let her push him around. True, it all seemed to be part of the puppet master’s plan to bed Charlotte and he worked his manipulations quite well. In the end, only Napoleon and Charlotte had any substantial development. As for their “clandestine affair”…there really wasn’t one.
My customary note on typos: Napoleon’s Rosebud had a few, mostly of the missing article variety. Otherwise, it was technically sound and well-edited.
Bottom line: This is what happens when you go into a book with inaccurate expectations. I won’t continue to harp on my disappointment, as it isn’t really the book or author’s fault. (But seriously, don’t hit up a blog that reviews romances with a non-romance!) So, if you’re looking for an espionage, regency thriller WITHOUT romance then you’ll probably enjoy Napoleon’s Rosebud.
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Humphry Knipe
Release Date: April 26, 2016