The Bastard Prince of Versailles
by Will Bashor
Publisher: Diderot Press
Cover Artist: Will Bashor
Release Date: September 6, 2023
Genre: Historical gay fiction
Tropes: Forbidden love, friends to lovers, coming of age
Themes: Love, war, redemption
Heat Rating: 2 flames
Length: Novel / 95,000 Words / 330 Pages
The Bastard Prince of Versailles is a standalone book and does not end on a cliffhanger.
In The Bastard Prince of Versailles, a factually based historical novel, a disowned gay prince struggles to redeem himself through heroism and self-sacrifice at war in 17th century France.
Being royalty is hard enough, but when your secrets could change your life…
Seventeenth-century France. Louis de Bourbon isn’t a real prince—even though his father is King Louis XIV.
The illegitimate son of the King and his mistress, Louise de La Vallière, young Louis has been kept far from the court’s eyes until summoned to bid adieu to his mother. To atone for her guilt, she joins a convent, abandoning Louis to an uncertain future. When Louis is humiliated by his father for his role in a secret society, he struggles to redeem himself through heroism and self-sacrifice on the battlefield in his father’s army.
Will Louis find a way to connect with his father amidst the prejudices of the time and the sexuality conflict he is grappling?
A Reader’s Review
Author Will Bashor portrays the intrigues of the 17th-century French court with fantastic detail and a passion for atmosphere, filling every page with rivalries, betrayals, and political maneuvering. The character of Louis is sensitively drawn, and readers witness his struggles with identity, love, and the demands of royal life.
The Chevalier de Lorraine’s manipulation and the gay society subplot add depth to the narrative, highlighting the complexities of sexual identity and society’s prejudices of the time. As Louis is exiled and later given a chance at redemption through military service, the novel delves into themes of heroism and self-sacrifice with some deeply compelling emotional scenes that tug at the heartstrings and help us relate to human beings from centuries ago on a modern personal level.
Overall, The Bastard Prince of Versailles is a compelling historical novel that not only entertains but also educates about a lesser-known aspect of French history, and I would not hesitate to recommend it. 5 Stars.
—Readers’ Favorite – K.C. Finn
Château of Versailles, October 1682
The gathering of nobles and courtiers in the marble-tiled courtyard gasped when fifteen-year-old Count Louis of Vermandois collapsed after the final blow of the whip, his body dangling from the ladder’s frame. King Louis XIV, his expression grim, raised his hand to end the spectacle and motioned for his son’s lifeless body to be carried away.
Hours later, in a dungeon cell reeking of rat urine and pipe smoke, Count Louis woke up on a cot with vermin-infested straw prickling his bare stomach. Despite the sounds of vicious dogs growling and drunken jailers cursing in the corridors, his mind wandered back to his idyllic youth, trying to understand how he ever ended up in a dank, dark prison cell.
CHAPTER ONE: The Dance of Faeries
Château of Sceaux, January 1674
In a peaceful country château, far from the constant intrigue of infidelity and adultery that tarnished the Palace of Versailles, lived a young prince who, despite all that he’d ever been told, was not a true prince. Even though his father, King Louis XIV, had named him Louis de Bourbon and ennobled him under the titles of Count of Vermandois and Admiral of France, he was still not a true prince. Not yet.
From his chambers on the second floor, seven-year-old Louis gazed out of one of his two large windows encased with leaded panes and carved wood, overlooking an imposing courtyard. The enchanted château and its seven pavilions were linked by ornate galleries with gardens, a basin showered with waterfalls, and a grand canal flanked with trellises of greenery. The view always offered Louis a sense of harmony and serenity.
But today was different. His foxlike, deep brown chestnut eyes were wider than usual as he waited anxiously at the window for the first of the royal coaches to appear. His mother, Duchess de La Vallière, and the king rarely visited but were expected to pay a visit to Sceaux on this twenty-eighth day of January. Even though the king had legitimized him and his sister, Mademoiselle Marie-Anne de Blois, at an early age, recognizing them as his natural children, Louis never understood why they didn’t live at Versailles. Still, he dreamt of one day living at the fairy-tale palace and maybe even inheriting the crown. What he was too young to understand, however, was that a decree of legitimization only ensured him a certain number of limited rights.
Louis’ foster family, the Colberts, also chose this visit for a special event—his breeching. Like most princes before the age of seven, Louis had grown up in the company of women, and as such, court tradition required him to wear a girl’s gown. Until today. Today, the valets in his chambers were meticulously laying out his crisply pressed chemise with ruffles, embroidered breeches, and silk stockings in preparation for his rite de passage.
When Madame Colbert entered Louis’ room to check on their progress, Louis, after wiping the foggy window with his sleeve, looked up at her with an innocent smile. He knew there was something in his brown eyes that could melt any woman’s heart. He’d often admired himself in the mirror and his eyes offered him a sense of solitude. Or was it loneliness? With his parents living at Versailles, and the beautiful and graceful eight-year-old Marie-Anne caring little for her younger brother at Sceaux, he often felt quite alone.
Madame Colbert ran her fingers through Louis’ hair. In the window’s reflection, he noticed how his hair spilled down his neck like ink on a tilted piece of parchment. The subtle rays of light reflected an indigo blue on his curly locks, contrasting with the moonbeam paleness of his face. He remembered courtiers who’d visited Sceaux and found themselves speechless when searching for words to describe him, often deferring to “pretty” or “lovely.”
“Stop wriggling, Count Louis,” said Madame Colbert. “Remember, you have royal blood running through your veins.”
Still, he thought, Madame Colbert never really treated him any differently than her other three sons. Her youngest, the impetuous Jules-Armand, was only four years older than Louis and, unlike his older brothers, still lived at Sceaux. Jules-Armand often invited Louis to play with him and his friends, but Louis had nothing in common with Jules-Armand. Instead, he preferred playing on his own in his chambers, shying away from the rough-and-tumble diversions in the courtyard. Because Jules-Armand’s bedroom was just across the hallway from his, he could sneak into Louis’ bedroom at night to play games. Or at least Louis thought they were games.
About the Author
From Columbus, Ohio, Will earned his Ph.D. from the American Graduate School of Paris, where, in his spare time, he read memoirs and researched the lives of royals and their courtiers. He hopes to share his fascination with the Bourbon dynasty and its quirky inhabitants and, at the same time, weave the historical record with creative fiction. He has written articles for the Huffington Post, Age of Revolutions, BBC History Magazine, andCarine Roitfeld’s CR Fashion Book.
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