Truth be told, I thought perhaps there was something wrong with author Caroline Fréchette. They kept enthusiastically going on and on and on about some book called Tremontaine, insisting that we all read it.
Finally, not wanted to incur Caro’s eyebrows of wrath, I bought the eBook version.
And now, after reading it, I can say with all sincerity, HOLY CRAP, THIS BOOK IS FREAKING AMAZING! In fact, it’s not really a book but a written series with each chapter as an episode. I began reading Season One, which consisted of thirteen episodes, and totally binged. There are several authors in this series, too, but magically, all the episodes read as if they were done by one person.
The story follows the machinations of Diane, Duchess of Tremontaine, a beautiful, sly creature who is the current mastermind behind her husband’s fortunes. At least, she wants to be. But a secret deal gone awry—and a sunken ship carrying chocolate—might bankrupt the Tremontaine estate and lead them to social ruin. Oh yeah, and the duke has no knowledge of this. Diane must try to escape this potential disaster on her own.
Then we have the exotic soldier-warrior Ixkaab, or Kaab, exiled from her own country and a “princess” of the first family of chocolate traders. She’s come to redeem herself in this new strange land where people have skin the colour of ant eggs. Kaab is fearlessly skilled as a fighter with a dagger, yet, a ginger woman from the wrong side of the city is her greatest weakness. When a murder occurs in Riverside, and the victim is the protector of this ginger vision, Kaab goes on a quest to find the killer.
But we mustn’t forget little Micah, who is a girl dressed as a boy—which only tends to fool men and not women. Micah is a mathematical and physics wizard who finds herself living among the male scholars of the University, including Rafe, a reluctant son of a merchant, who sees “him” as the ticket to forging a new scientific truth and creating a new way to improve the chocolate trade.
It took me a while to get used to the place names and become accustom to the world that seemed so much like our own during the 17th century. However, I stuck with the story and it turned out to be so delicious, I drank it down it like spicy hot chocolate. (Funny how I always like romantic adventure stories that run along a plumb line of food. Huh.)
I loved the way Micah was represented. She reminded me of someone on the autism spectrum, and I felt her character was written so well. Micah can get overstimulated by her hypersensitivity to stimuli and she can be hyperfocused on a task, but the people around her don’t judge her. She has her coping techniques and when her friends see her in distress, they help her, using her preferred methods to calm down. The writers also made her charming, compassionate, and intelligent. I personally loved how literally she took things. It was endearing. I also was happy that nobody treated her with disdain, like she was odd. Frankly, she was no “odder” than the other characters, who all had their quirks.
I must also say that I really liked how the sex scenes were crafted in Tremontaine. They were sensual and moreso by what they hinted at, instead of graphically spelled out. This just happens to be my favourite style of the sexah in novels. Sexual orientation went beyond the cisgender-heteronormative, too, and it was great to see classic romantic themes through queer characters. I WANT TO SAY MORE BUT SPOILERS. OH, MY FREAKING WORD, PEOPLE!
So, I gave this series a 5-star rating. When something makes me want to scream, “YOU GOTTA, I MEAN, SO GOTTA READ THIS!” then it’s top marks from this Irish-Canadian princess.
I cannot wait to read Season 2. I am totally addicted.
If you’ve read it and loved Tremontaine, let me know, so we can squee together!
Cait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network, a blog that solely features writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic illness.