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All books bought directly from me via paypal will be personally signed!
Designs of a Gentleman: The Early Years
Designs of a Gentleman is a prequel to a series of books based on the adventures of Philip Devalle in a time when relations with France and Holland are in a precarious state.
Philip had a miserable childhood, beaten heavily and often by his older – and slightly insane – brother, Henry. His father, Earl Southwick, was not much help either, always deferring to his heir’s excuses. Seeing no great future for himself, Philip, saw no other recourse than to try and find himself a patron at court. He also finds that his good looks – inherited from his French mother – attract a great number of ladies, especially Barbara Palmer, Countess of Castlemaine.
We watch Philip thrive at court, following all the trends set by the rich – fashion, gambling and, of course, women. He survives both fire and plague and even keeps his rash promise of introducing Nell to King Charles. With Buckingham, he finds himself in France, adored by the Duc d’Orleans – Monsieur – and also a confidant of King Louis. He is also made a major in the French army due to his French mother.
Philip Devalle is an unusual – and enjoyable – creation. At first, he seems to have few redeeming features, being extremely vain; he is handsome, he knows it and uses his looks unashamedly to advance in both courts. Yet he does have a kind streak for those less fortunate than himself and he does not lack courage or skill. He makes friends and enemies just as easily.
As a prequel, this can easily be read as a stand-alone novel, though I hope, like me, the reader will be wanting more.
The Distant Hills
This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review: Helen Hollick founder #DDRev
“A well paced novel, with some interesting cameos from Samuel Pepys and Judge Jeffreys amongst others”
Fictional Saga -1689 -France and England
In this, the fourth in the series of the adventures of Philip Devalle and his brother-in-law Giles Fairfield, Philip is the centre of attention – something that he likes very much. Trusted servant of King William III, he is also a personal friend of wily old Louis XIV – the Sun King. But someone wants Philip dead and a man in such an invidious and dangerous position has many enemies – perhaps within one of the two royal houses …
Philip is a bit of a cavalier, in more than one sense of the word; he is a dandy, dashing and handsome with more than an eye for the ladies in his chequered past, though he is now devoted to his wife Theresa and their daughter, Maudie. Brave and strong, quick thinking and possessed of a ready wit, he is more than aware of his assets and you cannot help but like him. Indeed, his wife and servants are devoted to him.
Giles, on the other hand, is far more complex. Once he had been a slave trader; following a disastrous defeat during Monmouth’s rebellion, he bears an ugly scar of which he is more than self-conscious. Yet his cynicism and reluctance to become involved in Philip’s schemes is the perfect foil devil-may-care attitude to life.
I very much enjoyed this story; the action is non-stop, some notable cameos (as there were in the previous book in the series), magnificent descriptions of Louis’ fabulous Palace of Versailles and some new secrets about Philip are revealed together with an ending that promises further volumes in the series. Nice cover, too.
As with all such series, this can be read as a stand-alone although it is always best to read the other volumes to understand the back-story.
Page turner By Helen“This is a thoroughly researched, intricately plotted novel that keeps the reader wanting to know what happens next.”
By Emma Newell - 5 out of 5 stars. Authentic and captivating
“Judith Thomson has really captured the period well, authentic characters and excellent story. I will certainly buy Part 2 of Designs of a Gentleman (and hoping for a TV series)!”
By Lynn Watts - “It was a new era for me and I found it very interesting, also liked the writing style. Will certainly read the next book.”
By Gillian - I have never enjoyed a series more and I can’t wait for number 6 to be published. Just this afternoon I have finished reading ‘The Distant Hills’ and am feeling bereaved! In fact I have had to ration myself to no more than two chapters per day so that I didn’t have to say ‘Goodbye’ to my ‘new friends’ too quickly. …I am one of your biggest fans and I wish you much success with your books and hope that there are a lot more stories in your fertile imagination so that I can continue enjoying your writing as much as I have done over the last few months.”
By David Lintonbon DO “Judith Thomson’s debut novel catapults you into restoration England, as seen through the eyes of Philip Devalle, the books main character. Ms Thomson expertly conveys the thoughts, feelings, sounds and smells of the era so well that the reader feels they are actually amongst the people at the court of the ‘merry monarch.’ This is a well researched, historical novel that offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of many pertinent figures, during a turbulent part of English history.”
By Jody - “ 5 out of 5 stars. I absolutely loved it! Even though I do not have time to read, I read this book in one week. I wish more men were like Philip! Judith’s details of that time are fantastic. I love history but have little knowledge but after reading this it makes me want to learn more. I’m so excited about reading the next part. Well done Judith, it’s a brilliant story filled with so much history.”
By Maureen Fancourt - What a great first novel “I have just finished reading Part 1. What a great first novel. I would thoroughly recommend it. I am now Eagerly waiting delivery of Part 2. Hopefully there will be many more in the future a good page turner.”
By Mary - “I love novels set in seventeenth century France, and this was no exception. The novel is also set in England at that time. It is the second book in Judith Thomson’s series, ‘Designs of a Gentleman’ and I read it over Christmas. The research was excellent, and it was obvious that the author loved the period and place as much as I do. The book opens with a perilous situation for the hero, though I will say no more of that, to avoid spoiling a good read. The suspense, adventure and plots kept me hooked until the end of the book, so that it can justly be described as a ‘page turner’ and a well written one at that. I finished it in two days, as I wanted to know what was going to happen. The characters are believable and very different from each other. For example, Theresa is very attractive, but Oates is loathsome. The author has composed a treat for historical novel lovers. A good story, characters that the reader cares about and impeccable historical research. The descriptions of the environment, even down to the smells, create a picture of the period and place.”
By RT - “Excellent 17th Century historical fiction. A well written and researched book set in 17th Century England and France with a mixture of fictional and actual people of the period. The main fictional character being Philip Devalle and his involvement in the intrigues of English and French Royal Courts. Including his part in the ‘Popish Plot’ and the plot to support the Monmouth Rebellion. He is not the usual ‘perfect hero’ but this makes him believable and more interesting. A very compelling book and difficult to put down. I can’t wait to read further adventures of Philip Devalle”
By Bev - ''For entertainment Judith Thomson’s series of books hits the spot! I first dipped in High Heatherton and enjoyed the flamboyance of an age that was unfamiliar to me – The 17th century. Then I went back to the first book in the series Designs of a Gentleman: The Early Years to see how it had all come about and I wasn’t disappointed. It was interesting to read the political high jinx of the period. These books are full of colour, drama and scheming within the courts of Charles II and King Louis of France. The characterisation is good and the books are well written. I will certainly read the next in the series.
By David Lintonbon DO - “Judith Thomson’s sequel novel is an absolute must. It blends the fictional life of her main character Philip Devalle so well with the historical events of the day with breath taking accuracy. Ms Thomson really catches the moment so well surrounding the main characters plotting the Monmouth rebellion you actually feel you are there amongst them, watching the deeds unfold. Breath taking!!! Looking forward to the next instalment. Brilliant, a real ‘page turner’ that throws you right into history! Looking forward to the next book already!”
“Having read part 1 (The Early Years) I HAD to then read part 2 (The Darker Years) … And I was right to do so! Philips’s character develops further as the plot thickens and this book has a real feel for ‘norms and values’ of this particular time in France and England. I feel like I have learnt more about history than I could have possibly done from a history book because this is a real ‘page turner’ and I know I can trust the authentic historical research. I hope there is another book to come and I don’t have to wait too long for it. It has also inspired a trip to Paris and London for me as well.”
By Mary - 5 out of 5 stars “This book is about Philip Devalle, who is the hero of Judith Thomson’s earlier books. Because it contains further adventures in his life, I could have read it as a standalone novel, although I have read the previous book. The book is engaging from the start, and I was immediately drawn into the story. Without wishing to give any clues to the content, so as not to spoil the read, I will say that the book contained a number of situations that kept me reading on, just to see what would happen next. I got engaged with the characters and hooked by the suspense. I was reluctant to put the book down. I enjoyed the novel and found it a compulsive page turner. The book is set in seventeenth century England and France, and it was very well researched. I enjoyed the details of everyday life and dress in particular, and the portrayals of Louis, the Sun King, and Charles II. The characters are very real and the book is a good read for fans of historical fiction.”
By E Vikander '' It is 1681 in post-restoration England, religious turmoil still roils the people. Lord Philip Devalle, an Englishman serving in the French army under King Louis XIV, is abruptly retired by the King due to envy of his popularity and is told to serve the King at Versailles. Poor reward for a man of action. Philip is persuaded by Lord Shaftesbury to come to England into his service. In turn, Shaftesbury will ensure that Philip inherits High Heatherton—his family home that is held by his insane brother who is committed to Bedlam—if he disposes the King of England (Charles II) and puts the King’s son Monmouth on the throne. What follows is a series of treasonous schemes and fluctuating loyalties in this thoroughly enjoyable tale of a fictionalized version of the Rye House Plot. Devalle is a hero that everyone would admire. Thomson sweetens the story with endearing supporting characters. This is a fast read with lovely, flowing writing style, and a quick moving plot.
By David Lintonbon - Good things come to those who wait.
“England was at times a turbulent place to live in the 17th century, as the religion of the country still played a huge part, according to who was on the throne. In this case the tug of war is between Catholic King James largely hostile protestant nobility plotting to over throw him and place Charles’s illegitimate son the Duke of Monmouth on the throne, with our hero Phillip and the people of the country torn apart within their own families. I found this book full of suspense, intrigue, plots and counter plots, clarified much of how the ordinary people were affected at this time, through the plain words of matter-of-fact Phillip, a minor wronged noble through and through. His distress revolves around being used as a pawn in the Monmouth rebellion and those who faced the end of their traditional way of life. While at the same time trying to secure his rightful inheritance his family home High Heatherton. All of which makes for an epic page turning read. Phillip is made of tough stuff, and in one sense he manages to make good out of disaster. Of course the fate of Monmouth and his followers isn’t so bright, but they were trapped in a no-win situation. This a great novel for anyone who is a fan of the 17th century, or human relationships, and I’ll be reading it again.”
By Susan - It’s 1681, the time of Charles II, and this is the story of Philip Devalle, a second son fighting for the Sun King in France. But on being released from service he returns to England hoping to claim his family home of High Heatherton as his own. This is the story of how far he will go and the unfortunate consequences of his actions. An enjoyable and interesting story, and the writing made it easy to read. A NetGalley book
By Deborah Crain - I received this book from Net Galley in return for an unbiased review. This was a thoroughly enjoyable book of a fictionalized account of the Rye House plot to kill King Charles II. Phillip DeValle is the central character will do anything to gain ownership of his family home, High Heatherton. Sent home from France after the war, Phillip sells his soul to the devil, agreeing to put together a plot to kill the king, and regain title to his home. Well-developed supporting characters keep the story interesting.
17th Century Bliss
“I have loved this book from start to finish. Judith’s style is a pleasure to read. The plot and characters are so well written that I couldn’t put High Heatherton down – and now can’t wait for her next book.”
By Mary - A real page turner
A real page turner, the story is compelling, and so I read it in one sitting. I love that period, especially in France, and the character of Monsieur was very well drawn, since he really was a good soldier, who had to suppress his masculine side so as to be non threatening to his brother. The story takes place in England, at the time of William of Orange. Also in France, where the Sun King reigns. A story that draws the reader in very quickly and keeps them interested.
By RT - 5 out of 5 stars. Excellent 17th Century historical fiction “A well written and researched book set in 17th Century England and France with a mixture of fictional and actual people of the period. The main fictional character being Philip Devalle and his involvement in the intrigues of English and French Royal Courts. Including his part in the ‘Popish Plot’ and the plot to support the Monmouth Rebellion. He is not the usual ‘perfect hero’ but this makes him believable and more interesting. A very compelling book and difficult to put down. I can’t wait to read further adventures of Philip Devalle”
By Dawn Carrington
Last week I read all of @JudithThomson14 ‘s Philip Devalle novels – a most enjoyable romp through Restoration England and Louis XIV’s France!
The Distant Hills
By David Lintonbon - An exceptional good read. Judith Thomson’s latest novel takes you back to the 17th century in such a way that you can really believe you are there with Philip himself.
By Richard Gough-Buijs rated it it was amazing This historical novel is set in the 17th century during the reign of King James II. It’s beautifully written, gently paced and it gives a lot of insight in people’s lives and what was going on out of sight of the public during this turbulent period of time.
By Mary Hawkes - Praise for Judith Thomson for writing such a well-researched novel. She combines a flair for dialogue with painstaking historical research. I especially enjoyed the depiction of Louis, the Sun King, and his brother Monsieur. A good read.