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The Scandalous Duchess

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  429 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
If you will be a great man’s mistress you must pay the price...

1372, The Savoy. Widow Lady Katherine Swynford presents herself for a role in the household of merciless royal prince John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, hoping to end her destitution. But the Duke’s scandalous proposition leaves her life of pious integrity reeling...

Seduced by the glare of royal adoration, Kathe
Paperback, 624 pages
Published March 6th 2014 by Mira (first published March 1st 2014)
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Oct 23, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are few things we know about Katherine Swynford, the Duchess of Lancaster. Married at sixteen to "Hugh" Ottes Swynford, a Knight from the manor of Kettlethorpe in Lincolnshire. It would be after his death with her time spent John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, first as his lover and then after the death of John's second wife Infanta Constance of Castile, as a married couple that would be the focus of the novel.

Written from Katherine's thoughts, we the reader as swept along with the forbidden
Sally Howes
Unlike many court dramas, THE SCANDALOUS DUCHESS is focused almost wholly on its female protagonist, Katherine Swynford, and the matters of her heart rather than on politics and royal intrigue, an important point of difference from other such books. The story mentions political events only in as much as they have an impact on Katherine's personal life. She is a woman completely lacking in political ambition, and this story is a romantic and domestic drama, nothing more - which does not mean that ...more
Girl with her Head in a Book
I came to this novel with very low expectations. I felt surprisingly indignant that another author had tried to 'remake' Katherine and The Scandalous Duchess' format was not designed to quell my concerns. The cover features a model with an obviously twenty-first century blonde dye job and within the first three pages, I spotted three typos - dairy maids became diary maids, instead of poring over books, the Duke poured over them. Additionally, all the way through, there was a problem with the ...more
Royal scandals are not confined to the current history of bare-bottomed princes and topless brides; they have been with us since royalty began; and the love affair between Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt was the hugest scandal of Plantagenet era. In a world where sin was blamed for every little thing that went wrong, Katherine and John were sitting ducks to be attributed the blame of all the kingdom’s ills. There were a lot of ills too – the Black Death, The Peasants Revolt and the failure ...more
The book had a beginning that wasn’t too bad, despite 20% of it being too much UST (unresolved sexual tension) between the main characters all along. In the end, though, the story in 1st person started to falter, focusing overmuch on the romance and the inner emotions over a good plot, combined with a so-so writing. I also really failed to feel the characters were Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt as we knew them from history.

If you read Anya Seton's Katherine and loved it, or are interested
Jessica O'Toole
I haven’t read any other Anne O’Brien books, so I have no basis for comparison against other works. I’m personally not a fan of first-person POV for actual historical people, either, but I gave it a chance because of the subject matter.

Unfortunately, because of the focus is so astonishingly heavy on the addictive love aspect that these two characters share and little else (romance does not have to be constant gush in my humble opinion, and certainly not almost every single scene) it caused Kathe
Aug 30, 2014 Jennifer rated it liked it
First off I would like to recommend that you don't embark upon this novel if you know you're going to spend every second comparing it to Anya Seton's "Katherine". It would be entirely unfair do to this as "Katherine" is one of the most magnificent historical fiction books ever written and it's unlikely to be matched.
That being said, I enjoyed this novel by Anne O'Brien and found favor in how she chose to write her novel based upon the love affair of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt. This is
Liz Barnsley
Feb 21, 2014 Liz Barnsley rated it really liked it
Thank you to the author/publisher for the advance reading copy.

If you will be a great man’s mistress you must pay the price…
1372, The Savoy. Widow Lady Katherine Swynford presents herself for a role in the household of merciless royal prince John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, hoping to end her destitution. But the Duke’s scandalous proposition leaves her life of pious integrity reeling…

Right so first of all I should be clear – I’m not great at History, and I do not read many historical novels. Th
Mar 06, 2014 Kate rated it it was amazing
Firstly I’d like to thank ED PR for sending me this book to read and give an honest review. I previously read and very much enjoyed The Forbidden Queen (review on my blog) by the same author so I was really keen to get started on this one!

The prologue introduced me to Katherine and the unfortunate situation she found herself in. Katherine seemed like a strong, interesting woman and I was immediately drawn in by her. When the Duke’s proposition came along a short while later I found that it wasn’
Jan 18, 2014 Éowyn rated it really liked it
I have to admit that I do enjoy Anne O'Brien as a writer of historical fiction. Maybe it's not great literature, but it's still an enjoyable ready and she actually makes a first person narrative come off, whereas with some other authors it sounds unnatural or is handled clumsily.

O'Brien's latest offering gives us the tale of Katherine de Swynford (nee de Roet), famous (or perhaps infamous!) as the mistress and later wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster (and if you didn't know that he marries
Theresa Tomlinson
Mar 24, 2014 Theresa Tomlinson rated it really liked it
I started reading this book with some trepidation as Anya Seton's KATHERINE was the book that started me on a lifelong obsession with historical novels - and I have eventually ended up writing them myself. I didn't like the over glamorous cover design! At first I felt uncertain - the book was very easy to read and romantic - starting straight into the Katherine Swynford/John of Gaunt relationship with very little build up, but the more I continued, the more I found that the remarkable historical ...more
Jul 28, 2015 Elena rated it liked it
The book covers the life of Katherine Swynford, John of Gaunt's long time mistress and later wife. Since, unlike other historical women O'Brien wrote about, her life has been somehow anonymous and boring, the whole of the book narrated solely from her point of view came out as somehow boring as well, and lacking of big surprises and turning points. The major historical events cam out as pale and inconsistent through Katherine's eyes, just barely hinted at. When you write an historical book is ...more
Feb 02, 2014 Damaskcat rated it liked it
I think any author writing a novel about Katherine Swynford has a hard row to hoe. The quintessential historical novel about this enigmatic and historically important lady has to be Anya Seton’s ‘Katherine’ and for many readers any other novels about her are going to be measured against this classic and found wanting. Unfortunately this new novel featuring Katherine falls into this category.

If you haven’t read ‘Katherine’ then you will probably enjoy this romanticised version of what is actually
Aug 22, 2014 Kiran rated it it was ok
An extremely slow-burn book that seemed to reach its point by about a third of the way through; so I didn't really see where else it had to go. It dragged on and on. Luckily I was reading it during a period where I had time for slow Sunday reading; otherwise I might have abandoned it. Pretty mushy and overly flowery in some parts, with bland characters that never seemed fully formed or layered. Overall nothing offensive but nothing of great interest either.
Carla Coulston
Jun 11, 2014 Carla Coulston rated it liked it
Solid and enjoyable effort from Anne O'Brien however for me, it didn't quite live up to the first one I read of hers - The King's Concubine. Where Alice Perrers was a wickedly multi-faceted protagonist, Katherine Swynford just felt weak and inspid in comparison. However it was still an engaging read and, in the end, a beautiful love story.
Aug 16, 2014 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, although it did get off to a slow start. O'Brien's tale of the relationship between John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford is a beautifully written love story, that I found quite refreshing in comparison to many novels from the same genre.
Sally Archer
Mar 03, 2015 Sally Archer rated it really liked it
Always interesting to read the back story of the Tudors a fascinating family. This author never disappoints.
Laura Purcell
Gave up halfway. I've enjoyed other books by the author but this one's not for me.
Deborah Pickstone
3 stars is a little generous.

I have read several by this author now and they are mildly diverting but not outstandingly historical. I do take the point that not a lot is known etc but others have done well on just as little to go on. The outstanding thing that struck me reading this is that all this author's heroines (they are more romances than HF really) are alike; they could almost be the same character - and they are all prone to a bit of hysterically misunderstanding and angry blaming. I ho
Robert Borg
Oct 19, 2016 Robert Borg rated it did not like it
I was finding it so hard to get into the story, that I finally gave up on it. It's not like me to abandon a book half way through it, but unfortunately there comes a time when one book comes along that just has that effect.

Perhaps it would please other readers, for me however it did nothing to capture my attention, and it was like flogging a dead horse.

Jun 17, 2014 Kelly rated it really liked it
This is going to be the most complex review that I think I have written. As complex as the scandalous affair between a duke and a young widow..

Okay so, the first 200 pages were the longest and most painful of my life and I very, very nearly gave up on reading it.
"I want you!"
"But it's such a sin!"
"I know... but still...?"
"Well I would, but you know... sins and all that..."
To-ing and fro-ing like a medieval boat travelling to Aquitaine.

Regardless I stuck with it, like a young widow with her
Oct 02, 2016 Shirley rated it it was amazing
A new historical character. So many books in this genre focus on the "main attraction" and don't pay attention to what is happening "behinf the scenes"
Sep 27, 2016 Alicia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I know nothing about this period in history (and I am fairly vague as to *which* period in history it was... 14th Century?) and just couldn't follow the broad brushstrokes of events between the intimate vignettes of the relationships. I also didn't find any of the characters particularly well fleshed out. Not to mention the very confusing historical reality of everyone being called Thomas or Henry, so I kept getting lost.
Barbara Campbell

I really enjoyed this book, loved the character's and enjoyed the fact that it wasn't graphic sex but an actual love story.
I remember walking out of the theater the night I went to see Keira Knightley's version of Pride and Prejudice and thinking, "That is just a good story". No matter how many times it's been told, there is just something satisfying in the telling of it.

As far as I'm concerned, the same goes for the true story of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford. However, Anya Seton's novel Katherine is considered such a classic, I think it's scared away some other historical fiction authors who might have been
Kirsten  Brown
Feb 15, 2015 Kirsten Brown rated it it was amazing
Favourite Quotes..

I should warn you that it will be my life's quest to win you for my own- John.

Will God punish us for snatching at happiness in a world that brings a woman precious little of it? - Katherine.

I saw you in my audience chamber and I wanted you. you know that. I wanted you to be mine. I still do, and I won't let you go. You were made to belong to me. It is my right to claim you. - John

Always Know, even hen we apart,when time does not allow me to touch your thoughts over the miles t
One of the greatest love stories, the 25 year affair and eventual marriage of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, younger son of King Edward III.

The story isn't new to me, I read the classic, Anya Seton's Katherine quite a few years ago and was excited to read Anne O'Brien's take on things. There's little documented of Katherine which offers an author quite a bit of freedom but Anne O'Brien grounds this fictionalised story firmly in historical events; The Black Death, the P
Victoria Johnston
I was a little unsure whether I liked this book or not. The writing was fine, the subject matter was fine and it was not hardgoing in any sense but something about it just made me feel like it was becoming a bit of a chore to read by the end.

Maybe it was down to the fact that the main character Katherine seemed so jumpy - in the sense that one minute she is all holier than thou and caring abut the feelings of others and the next minute she is actually quite a harsh , unforgiving character. I can
Apr 07, 2014 Becky rated it really liked it
An impoverished widow Lady Katherine Swynford seeks employment with the Duke of Lancaster John of Gaunt. She had been raised by his mother and served his first wife Blanche as a damsel until her death. She is shocked that instead of being offered a place as damsel to his new wife Constanza or in the ducal nurseries he wants her to be his mistress. This goes against all her beliefs so she flees back to son's estates.

Dire need forces her to risk being compromised by finally accepting a place assis
Jun 29, 2016 Toby rated it liked it
The quote on the book cover from THE SUN says "Outdoes even Philippa Gregory." Well, not so.

Although I've enjoyed several of Anne O'Brien's historical novels, this one left me wanting. The story itself, of John of Gaunt's great passion for Lady Katherine Swynford (ancestors of the Tudor line of Kings), is a good one. Katherine begins as John's mistress while he is married to other high-born heiresses and she bears him four illegitimate children. Eventually John makes Katherine his third wife and
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 04, 2015 08:01PM  
  • Red Rose, White Rose
  • The Winter Crown (Eleanor of Aquitaine, #2)
  • Queen of Shadows: A Novel of Isabella, Wife of King Edward II
  • The Passionate Brood
  • Passage to Pontefract (Plantagenet Saga, #10)
  • Harlot Queen
  • A Triple Knot
  • Mistress to the Crown
  • The Midwife's Tale
  • The White Queen of Middleham (Sprigs of Broom #1)
  • Bound to the Barbarian (Palace Brides #1)
  • The King's Women
  • Liars and Thieves
  • The Needle in the Blood
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

My home is in the Welsh Marches, although much of my early life was spent in Yorkshire, most recently in the East Riding.Ann O'Brien The Marches is a remote region of England, surrounded by echoes from the past. Hereford is close with its famous Mappa Mundi and chained libr
More about Anne O'Brien...

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