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The Perfect Royal Mistress

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  1,156 ratings  ·  92 reviews
Born into poverty and raised in a brothel, Nell Gwynne sells oranges in the pit at London’s King’s Theater, newly reopened after the plague and the Great Fire devastated the city. Soon, her quick sense of humor and natural charm get her noticed by those who have the means to make her life easier. But the street-smart Nell knows a woman doesn’t get ahead by selling her body ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published February 27th 2007 by Broadway Books
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Move aside Cinderella, Nell Gwynne puts your rags to riches story to shame! Everyone should have an introduction (hopefully it will grown into a love) of Charles II's mistress, Nell Gwynne. Unlike the sex-crazed and overly ambitious mistress (and cousin of the Duke of Norfolk) Barbara Villiers (Lady Castlemaine), Charles's childhood crush the Duchess of Mazarin, Lucy Walter, the countless actresses, or even his wife Catherine whom he loved more like a sister than with any passion; Nell possesed ...more
Can you believe this is the Baroque era, the era when Duc de Saint-Simon was writing his memoirs, the era of the Sun King? Yeah, neither can I. Awfully anachronistic, no sense of time or place really. Nell Gwynn (and I read it for her, I like her, the Nell Gwynn from the historical records) is an impossible saint who does everything FOR LOVE. She is the only woman who has ever cared for the king. There is not an ounce of meanness or self-interest in her. Yeah right. Maybe. Only, a) from what I r ...more
Nov 01, 2008 Alaine rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of Royal History
This really is a tale of rags to riches. Nell started out with nothing and ended up being the favourite of the royal mistresses to Charles II. Nell was an interesting character who used humour to cope with the difficulties she faced in her life. We could certainly all do with a dose of that in our lives.
Charles II was undoubtedly a man whore, he chased everything that moved. I wouldn't be surprised if what he really died from was a sexually transmitted disease. The man was certainly a stud who a
Dawn (& Ron)
Jun 05, 2012 Dawn (& Ron) marked it as to-read
Recommended to Dawn (& Ron) by: Orsolya
Wow, what a wide range of opinions on this one with GR friends, from 1 star to 4.
Sasha Strader
The best book about Nell Gwynn I've found to date!
Gave up on page 283. The personal side of Charles II's reign has been done before, and better, by Kathleen Winsor in Forever Amber. The same characters are here: Castlemaine, Buckingham, Rochester, Nell, Minette, Duke of York, the spaniels, and the rest. There was nothing new, and nothing unique about Haeger's style to make me want to keep reading. In fact, Haeger's decision to have Nell and Rose's accent be phonetic with dropped aitches was irritating. I'd have preferred the reader be allowed t ...more
This is the rags to riches story of Nell Gwynne, a one time orange girl and then actress of The King's Theatre who captured the heart of Charles II, The Merry Monarch. Since two other reviewers have done such a fine job of recapping the story, I needn't rehash it again.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the story, I felt the characters could have been better defined. Maybe it's because I've read Forever Amber and Dark Angels: A Novel and I kept wishing for more like that. The author did a nice job of d
It started out well enough: political machinations, the London fires, the potential for a steamy read...and it fell quite flat. After a few chapters, the phonetic voices of Nell and her sister were more annoying than endearing and her dialogue, which was supposed to be brash and witty, was actually quite dull.

I felt that there wasn't much depth to Nell's character, and while it was based on a real person, as fiction, liberties could have been taken to make the character more vivid. She just see
historical fiction novel of this particular mistress of Charles II. a mistress's frustrations interspersed with actual religious/political/social events of the time. i kept wanting her to leave him but apparently it was her constant love and subjugation of her personal desires to his whims (or perhaps one could say making his whims her personal desires) that made her a refuge for him...blah.
Nick Sweet
In this book, Diane Haeger flushes out the life and times of the most well known of Charles the II's mistresses, Nell Gwyn. From humble beginnings as an orange girl in the streets of London, we watch as Nell rises through the ranks of royal power to one of the powerful woman in all of England. However, Haeger gives this hooker a heart of gold in her story, and this Nell truly cares about her monarch in a way that is both touching and heartening. We also see Nell adopt an orphaned black girl into ...more
The Perfect Royal Mistress is the story of Nelly Gwynne and her rise from poverty to become a famous actress and then mistress to England’s King Charles II. The book’s main charm is its title character. The author does a great job of making Nelly charming, witty and spunky. Nelly’s straightforward nature and well known humor would have been enough to carry the story but Diane Haeger gives her added depth and history which makes her truly sympathetic. And Nelly needs all the sympathy she can get ...more
Review: The Perfect Royal Mistress was a breath of fresh air. This was my first encounter with King Charles II and despite all of his affairs I actually admire him as a King. He had to deal with his father’s, King Charles I, murder as a young boy, which greatly affected his adult life. Diane Haeger did a great job with setting the tone for the book. I found the characters to be well developed and well researched.

What I loved so much about this book was how descriptive it was for example the desc
This book read like a run of the mill historical film with lots of attention paid to the costumes and furniture. The women twitter about and the men are power hungry libertines. The women use what they can to secure a future for themselves and that usually involves sex. (Still, like those movies, that usually involves lots of bedsheets and fading to black). Nell Gwyene is no different--she rises from an orange girl to an actress to the kings mistress and even bears him a son, ensuring financial ...more
The Perfect Royal Mistress tells the story of young Nell Gwynn, a fascinating historical character who has been explored by a number of different writers. Nell's rags to riches story is one of the most unique stories in history, as well as one of the most fascinating.

Nell was making her living by selling oranges to theatre patrons at the popular King's theatre. While most women of her status -born into poverty and raised in a brothel -have little option other than to sell their bodies, Nell beco
Think of a soft fluffy cake you just ate that hit all the right spots, then promptly forgetting what it was all about 5 minutes later. That was how reading this book felt like.

There was nothing wrong with the book, it was just bland. Nell Gwynne was too perfect and there's only so much even the best author can do to expound on someone's goodness before boring the audience. Nell loved the King, pure and simple, never in want of anything, just standing quietly by him - that message was incessantl
The Perfect Royal Mistress tells the extraordinary tale of Nell Gwynne, a woman who rises above the harsh poverty of her childhood to become the famous actress and beloved mistress of England’s King Charles the II through her renowned wit and charm. The story begins with Nell traversing the ash strewn streets and debris from the London Fire of 1666 to sell oranges outside the King’s Theater. She does not let herself be crushed under the weight of crippling poverty or the cruelty of men, and her ...more
Freda Lightfoot
Haeger captures the charm and character of Nell perfectly, even to the witty dialogue. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which moved along at a cracking pace. Charles is sympathetically portrayed although he is no more faithful to his adored Nell than to the gentle Queen Catherine. His weakness over women is all too evident, but also his undying loyalty to a barren wife.

Nell is not overly ambition, her only object initially being to survive, to feed herself and her sister Rose and escape the pover
Very interesting read. Never heard of Nell Gwynne. The author fills out this relationship between Nell and King Charles II with insight and sensitivity. The old boy gives stud new meaning!
Its tough to be king. Seriously, it is a study in discipline on the one hand, and unbridled self-gratification----I am the king, and I can do anything I wish---on the other.

Down deep, he wasn't a very likeable character.
Dec 14, 2009 Ari rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historians.
Recommended to Ari by: myself
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Margaret Bramlett
This was a quick, fun read. I might have enjoyed it more if I was not already familiar with the story. Nell was presented as a likable woman, as she undoubtedly was. Having read a number of nonfiction books on the Stuart era, I would say that Charles was presented more sympathetically than he deserves. I would recommend the book to anyone looking for a good Cinderella story based on some facts from the historical record.
When I started reading this, I couldn't put it down. It was fun, fast-paced, and had that thing I like in books that I just kept reading because I had to know what was going to happen next. However, I'm sure the original Nell was not so much a saint as this version. The continual self-sacrificing got sickening, but it was a fun ride, and easy read.
Courtney Brown
I loved the first part of the book - the meeting, the chase, the falling in love - but the second part of this novel really bumped down the rating. I realize that historically, women didn't have much power (and learned to deal with it). However, I got so tired of the protagonist sighing to herself about how much she loved the King and why she'd put up with anything.

Plus, Charles wasn't even likable. He'd lament his lust for women and talk about change, but he never did it. I really wanted Nell t
I actually enjoyed this more than I thought I would; it was a perfect, mindless accompaniment to heavier literature. The story of Nell's ingratiation to (at least fringe) court life is fun. Don't expect it to be any more than that, and this novel will certainly find a niche in your repertoire.
Mirah W
Unfortunately, I didn't like this as much as I was hoping I would. I thought it was rather shallow. I like historical fiction that gets a little deeper into the minds of the characters...I feel like this one only touched the surface. I didn't really know anything about Nell Gwynne and that was redeeming because I wanted to know how her story would end. The writing was good, but it seemed to lack that spark that really kept me interested. I had a hard time keeping track of how much time has passe ...more
I had stumbled upon this book by accident, but I quickly fell in love with the clever and spunky Nell Gwynne. I can honestly say I have not encountered historical fiction quite this engaging since I read The Other Boleyn girl several years ago. The character of Nell is so real and believeable on the page, I was simply blown away!

I didn't think it was perfect- as my score reflects. Although I absolutely loved Nell's character, I HATED her hubby, and found myself (more often than not) speed-readi
Rio (Lynne)
There are several books out there about Nell Gwynne. I chose to read this one first because I loved Diane's Courtesan. This one on the other hand fell kind of flat for me. I did enjoy it, I just didn't love it. After reading two books now on Charles II, I can honestly say I am not a fan. Talk about a man who couldn't handle any conflict. If he could have learned to say "no" to his women, instead of feeling guilty and had stopped wasting England's money on his mistresses, he might have accomplish ...more
I liked this book. It took some time to get through, but I like how the characters and conversation were written. Nell was really entertaining, and it was surprising to see how bratty and spoiled the King could act. My favorite part was when Nell was speaking very bluntly (and rudely) to the king and some of his men while they were in disguise. It was cool how the king thought her funny and refused to let his followers reveal who he was to her. When Nell realized that it had been Charles later o ...more
I found this book through I love this site! You enter books you have read, that you enjoyed, and the site pulls up a list of books to read, based upon your input. For this book, I was using the search for "The Thirteenth Tale", Diane Setterfield's novel, which I truly enjoyed.

I am a little over halfway through, and so far, it's enjoyable. I am surprised that I actually like this book, because I am not a huge fan of romance-type novels. I assume that because it is His
Fascinating......I had a difficult time putting this down.

Very well written and evocative of an era where courtesans ruled.
Elisha Ebanks
Oct 23, 2014 Elisha Ebanks marked it as to-read
I haven't read this but the synopsis sounds extremely reminiscent of Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor.........hmmm........
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Diane Haeger is the author of four previous historical novels, including The Ruby Ring and My Dearest Cecilia. She lives in California with her husband and family.
More about Diane Haeger...
The Secret Bride (In The Court of Henry VIII, #1) The Queen's Rival (In the Court of Henry VIII, #3) Courtesan The Queen's Mistake (In the Court of Henry VIII, #2) The Ruby Ring

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