Monday, February 27, 2012

Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: By the King's Design by Christine Trent

First line: "Remember what I told you, brothers."

From the back cover: Strong-willed Annabelle Stirling is more than capable of running the family draper shop after the untimely death of her parents. Under her father's tutelage, she became a talented cloth merchant, while her brother Wesley, the true heir, was busy philandering about Yorkshire. Knowing she must change with the times to survive, Belle installs new machinery that finishes twice the fabric in half the time it takes by hand. But not everyone is so enthusiastic.

Soon, riled up by Belle's competitors, the outmoded workers seek violent revenge. Her shop destroyed, Belle travels to London to seek redress from Parliament. While there, the Prince Regent, future King George IV, commissions her to provide fabrics for his Royal Pavilion. As Belle's renown spreads, she meets handsome cabinetmaker Putnam Boyce, but worries that marriage will mean sacrificing her now flourishing shop. And after Wesley plots to kidnap the newly-crowned King - whose indiscretions are surfacing - she finds herself entangled in a duplicitous world of shifting allegiances.

Painting a vivid portrait of life in the British Regency, Christine Trent spins a harrowing tale of ambition, vengeance, love, and complex loyalties against the dynamic backdrop of the early Industrial Revolution.

My thoughts: I have come to love Christine Trent's novels and this one was no exception. I love how she takes trades of whatever time period she is writing in and brings them to light. She has explored the life of a dollmaker (The Queen's Dollmaker), the wax-working apprentice to the great Madame Tussaud (A Royal Likeness) and now a cloth merchant.

I have to admit that I am not all that familiar with the Regency Period, but Christine Trent somehow makes it come to life. By the King's Design is set in the early 19th Century, right at the start of the Industrial Revolution. After her parent's shop was destroyed by the Luddites, Annabelle sets out for London in an attempt for retribution. She manages to catch the Prince Regent's eye and is summoned to visit him. He offers her the opportunity to provide the fabrics for his new palace, which helps bring more business to her new shop in London.

Annabelle is a strong-willed, determined character. She is of the insistent opinion that she needs no man (as the times require) to either help her run her business or her life and constantly  finds herself surrounded by men that feel differently. Not surprising, when she meets Putnam Boyce, a cabinet maker, she keeps him at arms length, unwilling to give up her independence. When things with her brother, Wesley, get out of hand, it is Put that is there to help Belle.

I loved all the details on being a draper and on cabinetmaking - you learn just what was and wasn't popular back in this time period as well as quite a lot of details about the trade itself. I also loved all the cameos throughout the book - Jane Austen had a small part in the book as well as Madame Tussaud and Claudette Laurent, the latter two who were prominent characters in Christine Trent's previous novels.

Christine Trent has quickly become one of my favorite authors and I cannot wait to read her next book, Lady of Ashes, due out sometime in 2013, which is about a Victorian undertaker.

About the author: Christine Trent writes historical fiction from her two-story home library. She lives with her wonderful bookshelf-building husband, three-precocious cats, a large doll collection and over 3,000 fully catalogued books. She and her husband are active travelers and journey regularly to England to conduct book research at historic sites. It was Christine's interest in dolls and history that led to the idea for her first novel, The Queen's Dollmaker.

Christine Trent's novels include The Queen's Dollmaker and A Royal Likeness. She is currently working on her 4th novel, Lady of Ashes, which will be released in 2013.  

You can find more information about Christine and her books by visiting her website or you can find her on facebook. You can find a complete list of the tour schedule for By the King's Design here

I received a complimentary copy of By the King's Design from Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Giveaway Information:

Thanks to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours, I have one copy of By the King's Design to give away to my readers.  Giveaway is international.

To enter please leave a comment below and include your email address (only comments with email addresses will be entered in the giveaway).

- +3 additional entries become a follower of Always With a Book. If you are already a follower you will automatically receive the bonus entries (just leave the name you follow under). 

- +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting this giveaway on Facebook. 
All entries can be in one comment.

Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!



  1. Thanks for the giveaway. Please enter me!

    +3, I'm a GFC follower

    niteofblu at gmail dot com

  2. Ohh, my husband is a cabinet maker, so it would be interesting to find out a little more about cabinet making!!! I'd love to win this book. I follow you and I posted the giveaway on my sidebar.

  3. What a great giveaway!

    +3 I follow via GFC

  4. Thank you for the giveaway.
    I am a new follower +3
    I posted to facebook:

    kaiminani at gmail dot com

  5. I would love to read the story of a career woman at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Please enter me. Thank you for the giveaway.


  6. I would love to read this! It sounds so good!

    +3 GFC follower(Margaret)

    +1 tweeted


  7. Thanks for the heads up on this giveaway.

    I now follow you on GFC


  8. This was my first Christine Trent novel and I really enjoyed it. Looking forward to reading more!

  9. This book sounds so good! Thanks for the giveaway!
    GFC follower (Colleen Turner).

  10. Thank you for the chance to win.

    I have blogged -

    I have tweeted -!/griperang/status/174833645809434624

    I am a new follower - griperang

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

  11. I'm anxious to read this book!

    I'm also a brand new follower!


  12. The detail in this sounds wonderful. Please include me in the giveaway.
    +3 I am an old GFC follower: MarthaE

    (BTW- Always With a Book blog title is soooo fitting!)

  13. Thanks for hosting this giveaway. The book sounds excellent, and I like the fact that Jane Austen and others have cameos in it! I've posted this in my blog's sidebar, and I'm a Follower.


  14. I enjoyed your review. The book sounds very interesting. Thanks for the giveaway.



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