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The Grand Masquerade

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For readers who like historical fiction with a bit of a love story. It is a life built on secrets, lust, and lies, and Sydnee Sauveterre is at the center of the charade. Used as a source of income at a stand on the Natchez Trace, she escapes at a young age to start a new life in Louisiana. Gifted with visions and a knowledge of Hoodoo, Sydnee must find her way through the For readers who like historical fiction with a bit of a love story. It is a life built on secrets, lust, and lies, and Sydnee Sauveterre is at the center of the charade. Used as a source of income at a stand on the Natchez Trace, she escapes at a young age to start a new life in Louisiana. Gifted with visions and a knowledge of Hoodoo, Sydnee must find her way through the quagmire of danger and deceit that is 19th Century New Orleans. She bans together with four friends to create an illusion within the elegant, high society of the Louisiana Creole. It is a risky charade meant to fulfill all of their secret desires, and Sydnee gambles everything, including love, to lead this double life. Will she survive the grand masquerade? "Once again Amanda Hughes splashes the pages with gritty adventure and love stories about audacious women in the 18th and 19th Century. Her page-turning tales will keep you on the edge of your seat as you take wild rides through dramatic and dazzling periods of history."


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For readers who like historical fiction with a bit of a love story. It is a life built on secrets, lust, and lies, and Sydnee Sauveterre is at the center of the charade. Used as a source of income at a stand on the Natchez Trace, she escapes at a young age to start a new life in Louisiana. Gifted with visions and a knowledge of Hoodoo, Sydnee must find her way through the For readers who like historical fiction with a bit of a love story. It is a life built on secrets, lust, and lies, and Sydnee Sauveterre is at the center of the charade. Used as a source of income at a stand on the Natchez Trace, she escapes at a young age to start a new life in Louisiana. Gifted with visions and a knowledge of Hoodoo, Sydnee must find her way through the quagmire of danger and deceit that is 19th Century New Orleans. She bans together with four friends to create an illusion within the elegant, high society of the Louisiana Creole. It is a risky charade meant to fulfill all of their secret desires, and Sydnee gambles everything, including love, to lead this double life. Will she survive the grand masquerade? "Once again Amanda Hughes splashes the pages with gritty adventure and love stories about audacious women in the 18th and 19th Century. Her page-turning tales will keep you on the edge of your seat as you take wild rides through dramatic and dazzling periods of history."

30 review for The Grand Masquerade

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Damn - I can't let this one get away without a review. This story... woah. I remember reading it on a vacation/staycation. Thinking it was something light and fluffy, something cheerful, you know? HARD NO on this. You open up with our young little leading lady, and it's... appalling. I didn't even know if I wanted to continue reading it, I remember explaining the gist of the first few chapters to my mother, and her raising an eyebrow, questioning her daughter's tastes in books. But it was a taste o Damn - I can't let this one get away without a review. This story... woah. I remember reading it on a vacation/staycation. Thinking it was something light and fluffy, something cheerful, you know? HARD NO on this. You open up with our young little leading lady, and it's... appalling. I didn't even know if I wanted to continue reading it, I remember explaining the gist of the first few chapters to my mother, and her raising an eyebrow, questioning her daughter's tastes in books. But it was a taste of desperation, heartbreak, magic, love, friendship, the bonds of each relationships; friendships, love, family, hierarchy etc AND you feel. So many feelings. It was beautiful and dark and unfair and so many, so much, to take it. I took breaks; it took me my entire week to get through it. I remember just staring off into space thinking about everything swirling around in my brain and my heart - all the emotions. This deals with race, love, homosexuality, religion, forbidden love, friendship so deep there is no wall between you and another, a little about the caste system, destruction.... honestly everything. Read this - but make sure you're mentally prepared. This is beautiful and bold. Bravo.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Literati Literature Lovers

    Rosette's Review I thoroughly enjoyed The Grand Masquerade. It was a beautifully written historical fiction that captivated me from beginning to end. Complex characters, a rich and accurate history of New Orleans, love stories that were intricate, desperate and forbidden, had me reading this book well into the night. I really had difficulty putting this down. The book begins in the Natchez Trace, where a young and pregnant fourteen year old girl survives with the help of some unorthodox friends. Rosette's Review I thoroughly enjoyed The Grand Masquerade. It was a beautifully written historical fiction that captivated me from beginning to end. Complex characters, a rich and accurate history of New Orleans, love stories that were intricate, desperate and forbidden, had me reading this book well into the night. I really had difficulty putting this down. The book begins in the Natchez Trace, where a young and pregnant fourteen year old girl survives with the help of some unorthodox friends. Fortunately for her she has a mother figure that protects her and educates her in the ways of Hoodoo. Her father is a cruel man that offers her daughter to men that visit their spot on the Trace. Sydnee Sauveterre escapes her brutal life and eventually finds herself in awe of the life that was now open to her. The author goes in great detail when describing New Orleans in the 1800’s, from the structures of the buildings, to the beautiful courtyards, the elegant gowns and the grand lifestyle of the well-to-do. But hidden behind the beauty are dangers of illicit love affairs, cruelty of enslavement, destitute families with children whose lives were lost to common diseases of that time. Sydnee’s social status rises but her spirit becomes weary of the soirees she is famous for hosting. She eventually finds purpose in her life, all the while keeping the secrets that entwine her and her four closest friends. Just when it seems that love has skipped over Sydnee, she finds a man that is both arrogant and irritating. In turn, Dr. Fletcher finds Sydnee spoiled and pampered. But the romance builds slowly, and I was completely enamored with their relationship. This novel is one of those that you wish could go on. At 90% I found myself a bit sad knowing that the story would soon end. Do not miss out on this book if you love historical fiction. The romantic tale of all the characters was a bonus, but I believe the reader will further appreciate the author’s effortless and eloquent style of writing, her imagination, and her love of all things New Orleans. It’s been twenty years, since I’ve had a true beignet. I think I’m due for one soon.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stanley McShane

    From 1831 at the Natchez Trace of Mississippi through New Orleans and ten years of growth, this book follows Sydnee Sauveterre as she graduates from being a dirt poor 14 year old being whored out by her father to the respected hostess of well-to-do New Orleans society. Fortunately, Sydnee is raised by Margarite, the slave at her father's tavern, "Devil's Backbone" who is well versed in "Hoodoo", a blend of Roman Catholicism and Voodoo. The practice serves Sydnee well after both Margarite and her From 1831 at the Natchez Trace of Mississippi through New Orleans and ten years of growth, this book follows Sydnee Sauveterre as she graduates from being a dirt poor 14 year old being whored out by her father to the respected hostess of well-to-do New Orleans society. Fortunately, Sydnee is raised by Margarite, the slave at her father's tavern, "Devil's Backbone" who is well versed in "Hoodoo", a blend of Roman Catholicism and Voodoo. The practice serves Sydnee well after both Margarite and her father die and leave her to travel south on her own toward a new life with her two dogs and the crow, Vivian. Through a series of extremely fortuitous opportunities, Sydnee is taken underwing after a mentor discovers her intelligence and potential. Becoming a sponge, Syndee learns to read and write, becoming an accomplished and learned lady. Through the contacts she develops, she is set up in a rather stylish and sophisticated home developed for entertaining. The strong bond of friendship, acceptance, and support weaves throughout, the characters are believable and empathetic. Sydnee does find love, but the story doesn't revolve around the development. The description of the life and hard times ring true; disease is a part of life, and devastating natural events overwhelm the population. Life was hard. The story paints the picture. Recommended reading for all ages.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    I have been so looking forward to the next book by this author and she does not disappoint. The story again concerns the trials and adventures of a strong woman, but the beginning of the book is much grittier than her previous three books. I think the characters have even more depth and interest. As far as being historical, it is not so much learning the history of a different time as being given a real feel for being there. The book spans several years, something I always like, so you get to wa I have been so looking forward to the next book by this author and she does not disappoint. The story again concerns the trials and adventures of a strong woman, but the beginning of the book is much grittier than her previous three books. I think the characters have even more depth and interest. As far as being historical, it is not so much learning the history of a different time as being given a real feel for being there. The book spans several years, something I always like, so you get to watch the characters mature and adjust to the world around them. Highly recommend if you are looking for fascinating escapism and a fun ride,

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    This book was really confusing. The main reason I continued to read it far past the point of interest was solely because I couldn't stop thinking, "Where is this thing going?" Basically, here's the plot: Girl with a horrible beginning grows up to have a drama-filled, active life, and actually manages to do some good, all the while surrounded by a cast of characters including the Tragic Gay Man, the Poor Little Rich Girl, and others.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    Thought it would have more hoodoo magic in it. I only got as far as I did in it (42%, 171opages)because I kept forgetting to download my new ebooks onto my phone and I never have service in the Starbucks line at work. It was boring and repetitive. Often seemed like the author would remember important information she wanted to include and forget that she had included it, almost verbatim, a few pages before.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    DNF I know this was set in a time when it was common for people to talk like this. But that does not mean I want to hear it today. I couldn't stand the racism in this book, and the words used. I know it had to be used to set the tone, but I couldn't do it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    mary e savini

    Well done Very impressed with this story. Couldn't put it down. Syndee is such a great character you just have to admire her no matter what! Amanda is great with the history of the time period and what life was like for women.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Darkwinde

    The more I think about this book, the more the rating goes down. When I first finished, I thought it was pretty good, if a bit contrived in places. But as time went on, I just got more frustrated as I thought of Sydnee's non-journey. You see, things happen to Sydnee. Lots of things. In fact, by the time we got to the earthquake, it was just funny. I was snickering. It was too much. Now I know that many real people have all this and more happen to them, but something about this book seemed weird. The more I think about this book, the more the rating goes down. When I first finished, I thought it was pretty good, if a bit contrived in places. But as time went on, I just got more frustrated as I thought of Sydnee's non-journey. You see, things happen to Sydnee. Lots of things. In fact, by the time we got to the earthquake, it was just funny. I was snickering. It was too much. Now I know that many real people have all this and more happen to them, but something about this book seemed weird. Maybe someone with more literature analysis experience than I can explain it. My biggest problem with all of this is that Sydnee is not the instigator of the way her life goes. Things happen TO her. There are one or two decisions that she makes for her own life, but these are the exceptions. A couple of examples from early in the book: Sydnee doesn't leave her dad until he is killed. Not by her, mind you, even though that would have been justified as self-defense. In fact, she is saved from several situations by someone else making the difficult decisions. Sydnee's whole life is changed when Maxime finds her and takes her to New Orleans. All of the further circumstances in her life stem from this fortunate turn. Her education and acceptance into society, her training with Madame Picard, and her situation with Tristan that in turn provides her income. Again, Sydnee doesn't choose this as much as she allows it to happen to her. I can think of only one big decision that Sydnee really makes for herself in the whole book. Even the end of the 'Grand Masquerade' happens at a fortuitous time before Sydnee has to choose between her friends and her love. Speaking of love, I really wanted to know how Sydnee got over the horrible sexual experiences she had as a girl. It is mentioned in passing that she had found passion with someone, but it's not clear whether she was sexually involved with him because of her situation with Tristan. I don't need erotica, but that seems like a major event in the life of a person with such a past. Some sort of explanation would have been nice. Also, enjoyable sex as a whole seems taboo in this book. It is only mentioned in reference to Sydnee and her love near the end of the book. It is treated so obliquely that I was confused at one point as to why two of the characters didn't have clothes on. Overall, it was an interesting story that I enjoyed through most of the book. Then these issues came creeping in. I will probably give Ms. Hughes another try because I'm not sure if the problems I had are specific to this book, or are part of her style as a whole. p.s. How old was that dang dog anyway?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Regan Walker

    This story has it all: adventure, romance, intrigue, mystery and great storytelling. It begins in 1831 as 14-year-old Sydnee Sauveterre ekes out a modest living at her father’s tavern, the Devil’s Backbone, on the Natchez Trace in Mississippi. Her father is a perverted brute who whores out his young daughter for money and then takes the babies she gives birth to. Sydnee takes refuge in her friendship with animals and her gift of visions that she shares with her father’s slave, Margarite, who enga This story has it all: adventure, romance, intrigue, mystery and great storytelling. It begins in 1831 as 14-year-old Sydnee Sauveterre ekes out a modest living at her father’s tavern, the Devil’s Backbone, on the Natchez Trace in Mississippi. Her father is a perverted brute who whores out his young daughter for money and then takes the babies she gives birth to. Sydnee takes refuge in her friendship with animals and her gift of visions that she shares with her father’s slave, Margarite, who engages in Hoodoo rituals for customers of the tavern. When Margarite dies and Sydnee’s father is killed, she flees and heads for New Orleans where the spirits tell her she will find a better life. And she does. Through a series of events, she is able to gain an education and a lady’s poise. And she makes friends—four unlikely young people who band together with Sydnee to live a “grand masquerade” in front of the world, while secretly fulfilling their own desires. And though Sydnee finds happiness, she still longs for more. This is a saga that covers more than a decade in the lives of these five friends as Sydnee becomes a lady and discovers her true purpose in life—and the love of her life. Based on considerable research, Hughes’ story brings to life early 19th century New Orleans and Natchez and the plight of abused girls and women. To accomplish her purpose to rescue them, Sydnee lives two lives and risks much. And the masquerade continues as the very worthy hero, Dr. Fletcher Locke, enters her life. A great storyteller, Hughes has woven an intriguing, suspenseful tale with terribly wicked villains and wonderful characters (though you’ll have to wait until the second half of the book for the romance!). I recommend it!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kathy DeShong

    "The Grand Masquerade" by Amanda Hughes is her best work yet! I couldn't put it down and I didn't want to stop to sleep. The story is extraordinary, yet believable. Sydnee was born into poverty yet makes the best of what is given to her to develop into the "first lady of New Orleans" through her lifelong friends she establishes along the way. Ms. Hughes develops her characters and situations that you can visualize them as you read. In the end, the twists and turns almost destroy her and her frie "The Grand Masquerade" by Amanda Hughes is her best work yet! I couldn't put it down and I didn't want to stop to sleep. The story is extraordinary, yet believable. Sydnee was born into poverty yet makes the best of what is given to her to develop into the "first lady of New Orleans" through her lifelong friends she establishes along the way. Ms. Hughes develops her characters and situations that you can visualize them as you read. In the end, the twists and turns almost destroy her and her friends.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I got this a a free download and went into it thinking that there was going to be more of a paranormal background dealing with Hoodoo. While the visions and Hoodoo were mentioned it was not a big part of the book and only mention here and there. However I still LOVED the book! It tells the story of Sydnee and how she goes from a poor,young girl prostituted out by her Father and her journey to become a fine lady of New Orleans. A great story that also shows you the seedy, dirty underbelly of life I got this a a free download and went into it thinking that there was going to be more of a paranormal background dealing with Hoodoo. While the visions and Hoodoo were mentioned it was not a big part of the book and only mention here and there. However I still LOVED the book! It tells the story of Sydnee and how she goes from a poor,young girl prostituted out by her Father and her journey to become a fine lady of New Orleans. A great story that also shows you the seedy, dirty underbelly of life in the South and how it was so very different for the rich and the poor.

  13. 5 out of 5

    helen maxwell

    startling terrific novel It took all I had not to stop life and just finish the book in one sitting. This novel had me glued from the beginning and I almost did not read it. I learned so much and it saddened me to no end how depraved human beings can be, but the flip side is how many wonderful, selfless people there are also. There were such terrific characters. I Will spend some coin to read her novels, and that's a lot coming out of this cheapskate.

  14. 4 out of 5

    CNickerson

    Worthy tale of a young woman's journey from rags to riches I liked the fact that this novel didn't go in predictable directions. The author showed both understanding and compassion about life in the Antebellum South and New Orleans. The protagonist was gutsy and never forgot her own beginnings in pain and poverty.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chele Kispert

    Ms Hughes, you have another great book under your belt! I couldn't put it down. Perfectly orchestrated. It reads like it wrote itself. Like her other books, this puts a strong woman from another time in the for front. Moving against the odds, and finding her way to her, happy ending. Thank You for sharing this with me. I am a huge fan of historical fiction and also a fan of Amanda Hughes.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    Layered characters and in depth story Pleasantly surprised after not knowing what to expect. Not a cookie cutter story at all. I enjoyed following the characters' journeys with the unexpected twists and turns life threw their way. Certain parts I wish were more in depth, but so much was included in this book it's hard to complain!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Madz8591

    I've read all of Amanda Hughes' novels and they keep getting better and better! This story will hypnotize you from beginning to end. I felt a little sad when I finished reading it, because now I miss the characters....I guess I'll have to read it again!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Diane Bleyer

    Another great read I've fallen in love with Amanda Hughes' books. She does her "homework" to not only give the reader an interesting, action packed story, bit includes accurate historical details within the setting.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shelby

    I was unsure if this book at first, but I'm so glad I gave it a chance! The author tastefully tells the story of the young heroine with vivid details, great dialogue, and exciting events. I look forward to reading more books from this author!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This was a very interesting and different book. It wasn't what I thought it was going to be and I liked that about it. I really felt for Syndnee and loved her courage and ability to care for others along her route to find herself. Great book!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Danica

    Once I started this book, I found it very difficult to put down. It was not just how realistic the characters and their stories felt but the fascinating history that sucked me in. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Billie

    I absolutely loved this book!!!

  23. 5 out of 5

    sharon abler

    Very good book. Very good book couldn't put it down. Was a book that you couldn't tell how it was going to end.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ainy K

    A good read! the story line is interesting, Each character had its own individual traits, characteristics and story.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    The Grand Masquerade The story of Sydnee kept me involved through the whole book. I would very much recommend it and didn't want to see the end.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Phyllis Stinson

    Fantastic This was non stop action. It had heartache, abuse, meaness, deep friendship, slavery, child abductions, eathquakes, murder, suicide, plagues, and much more. Loved it!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cecilia G. Flores

    Exciting Having been to New Orleans and the other places mention, I was able to visualize the setting and characters to the fullest.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Renie Schuble

    Could not stop reading Held my attention and my breath until late at night. Could not put it down loved it from page one to the end, when I finally took a deep breath. WOW

  29. 5 out of 5

    Francesca

    A very entertaining story in a historical setting.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kellie Dipiro

    I have enjoyed every book I have read by Amanda Hughes. Her books are richly entertaining as well as historically educational. I have loved reading this book.

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