The Queen’s Fool

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The Queen's Fool (The Tudor Court, #4)The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series:  The Tudor Court
Publisher: Touchstone
Release Date: February 4, 2004
Category: Historical Fiction / Romance
Setting: London, 1548
Author Website: http://www.philippagregory.com/

About this series:

The Tudor Court series highlights several of the key women in Tudor history who have influenced England. Gregory has a unique talent for combining historical details with fictional portrayals giving readers intriguing stories stacked with knowledge. At the end of each book Gregory provides an Author’s Note section which will let you know where the fiction in her story deviates from history and how she has filled in the blanks. These are great stories that will entertain but I think they will also inspire some readers to do their own research and rediscover an appreciation for history. History doesn’t have to be the boring subject most high school curriculum would make you believe. Gregory should be the spokesperson for a new history ad campaign. We could avoid so many pains if we just took some time to look at our history and learn from our mistakes. The Tudor Court series contains both some success stories and some failures we could learn from.

About this book:

All Hail the Queen of Historical Fiction!  Long Live Philippa Gregory!

The Queen’s Fool is a page-turner; full of intrigue, desire, and lust in the Tudor court. Gregory, who is a master historian of Tudor power players, weaves entertaining plotlines with her Average Joe characters to give us a glimpse of how the rich and famous lived. Her main characters would be mere bit players in some other author’s books, but with Gregory’s crafting these average secondary characters come to life and take center stage with such realism and that it is hard not to think of them as real people. By the end of this book – and basically every novel Gregory has written – her characters feel so real that I often feel as if I’ve lost a great friend when I finish the last page.

In this offering, Gregory sets the stage at a critical point in England’s history. Young but sickly Edward VI, only child Jane Seymour (wife #3 for Henry VIII), dies suddenly at fifteen. King Edward was determined to keep England faithful to his father’s religion, the Church of England. To do so Edward excluded his Catholic half-sister, Princess Mary, daughter of Catherine of Aragon (wife #1 for Henry VIII), from inheriting his throne. But in doing so, Edward also excluded his Protestant half-sister, Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of Anne Boleyn (wife #2 of Henry VIII). Lacking a clear heir, Edward picked his cousin, the daughter of Henry’s sister Mary, Lady Jane Grey to take the throne just before he dies.

However torn the people of England are between Catholicism and Protestantism (and thus between their love of both Princesses Mary and Elizabeth), they united against the usurper. Everyone realizes that Lady Jane is an innocent pawn in an attempt to capture the throne by her power-hungry relatives, but no one wants her to sit on the throne.

Confused yet by the troubling relationships of the English monarchy? Don’t worry! Gregory presents this complicated backstory in a much more interesting manner than my poor recitation. Amidst all this royal juggling, Gregory turns our attention to young Hannah Green. Taught all her life to hide who she is, Hannah falls under the spell of handsome Robert Dudley, who casts her as a Holy Fool with the gift of the Sight. Hannah, like the two Princesses, is influenced greatly by her mother. All three of were denied a mothers’ guidance. As a result, all three women must forged their own futures.

There’s a message in this story. Not a starch priest’s sermon. Not a cautionary tale of youth. But a message of hope. Please take the time to discover on your own the gifts that only Gregory, a talented wordsmith, could give readers. For example…

First, you might notice a different more human portrayal of Robert Dudley. Typically cast as a schemer, Gregory tempers Dudley’s political wheeling-and-dealing with a touch of kindness and romanticism that a real man would likely be conflicted with in such a powerful role. Secondly, I fell in love with Hannah like she was my best friend or a special sorority sister. Reading the final pages was painful, as I knew my time with the Holy Fool grew short.

But that is the wonderful promise of books, isn’t it? When times are tough, I can open The Queen’s Fool again. I’ll say “Hello” to an old friend, and find some strength and comfort between the pages for a few hours.

Learn about all books in The Tudor Court series:

Other books of interest: The Cousins’ War series

The Rules of Seduction

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The Rules of Seduction (Rothwell #1)The Rules of Seduction by Madeline Hunter
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series:  Rothwell
Publisher: Dell
Release Date:  January 1, 2006
Category: Crime / Mystery
Setting:  London
Author Website: http://www.madelinehunter.com/

 

About this book:
Sadly, I read this book while recovering from an illness. I think it could have been a page turner but I could not hold my concentration that long. Having said that though, there were periods when I was able to completely lose myself within its pages which really is the highest compliment one can give any book and an author.

Alexia Welbourne is a classic romantic female. She is a poor relation dependent on the kindness of her cousins for her wellbeing. She does not let her situation get her down though, she has accepted her fate. But when her cousins lose their fortune and they are pinching pennies Alexia is turned out to find her own way in the world.

Ironically Alexia finds employment with Hayden Rothwell the very man who brought her cousins ruin. A cold man by all public accounts Alexia discovers there is a very warm man in private. Together the two encounter the troubles associated with a classic romance; which means that besides falling in love they also uncover the mysteries surrounding Alexia’s cousin.

Without giving anything away, I have to say that I didn’t see this turn of events coming; and I don’t think it was my weakened state of health that made me miss it. I literally said aloud, “Well, I didn’t see that coming” when the mystery was revealed. I hope I’m not the only one who talks to the characters in the book they are reading.

A thoroughly enjoyable read I look forward to finishing the rest of this series.

Learn about other books in this series: 

The Sins of Lord Easterbrook

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The Sins of Lord Easterbrook (Rothwell #4)The Sins of Lord Easterbrook by Madeline Hunter
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book Title: The Sins of Lord Easterbrook
Series:  Rothwell Brothers
Publisher: Dell
Release Date:  January 27, 2009
Category: Crime / Mystery
Setting:  London
Author Website: http://www.madelinehunter.com/

About this book:
Hunter hooks us on the first page with a slightly humorous but dark and tortured Lord Easterbrook. She balances the story with a business-savvy and head-strong Leona Montgomery, whom you immediately know is going to disrupt his world. The passion between the two runs hot. Secrets could forever break their trust in one another. And solving long over-due mysteries could lead to murder.

What I like most about this book is that when one of the characters needs to deal with an issue Hunter has them have “the talk”. Both of these characters are “deal with it” kind of people. It would have driven me crazy if the characters skirted around issues for 100 pages. But Hunter – like her characters – isn’t afraid to deal with things head on and sometimes that means showing a character’s weaker side. Although no one would dare call Lord Easterbrook weak.

Has Lord Easterbrook sinned? Well, you’ll need to read the book and decide for yourself. But if he did sin it feels very, very good. Just ask Leona.

Learn about other books in this series:

Disclosure: I believe I won this book in a contest run by the author, publisher or a book website. I honestly can’t remember which one it was.