This ended up being as fantastic and compulsively readable as the prior book in the series, "The Chalice." If I had more spare time I probably would hThis ended up being as fantastic and compulsively readable as the prior book in the series, "The Chalice." If I had more spare time I probably would have read it straight through. Now I have to go back and read the first book. I enjoy reading this author as much as I enjoy reading Elizabeth Chadwick and Philippa Gregory. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and this era tops the list as my preferred century. Nancy Bilyeau has given me my fix and I want more.
The interesting thing about this author is her ability to make me care about the welfare of the characters. Even though there is less romance in this book than I typically find in historical fiction, I couldn't stop reading it. Joanna Stafford is a complex, likeable character. You understand her fear, her dilemmas, and her difficult choices. There are enough bad guys in this book to make you want to nibble on your nails as you read.
Her description of King Henry VIII during his latter years was well done. I could picture him in my mind as an overweight, indulgent and diabetic man living in an age where there was no treatment. So his mood swings made total sense. No one could predict what he would do next. They just hoped he targeted someone else. I could smell the rotting flesh on his leg, not that it was pleasant, but it was realistic. It made me truly feel for Catherine Howard's plight. There were enough interesting characters in this book to make it compelling, but not overwhelming.
I don't want to give away any plot points, but I can tell you that it read like a mystery but with a little suspense tossed in. The executions were descriptive and a bit gross, but the author did not make them disgusting. There were a number of very tense moments that had me on the edge. The ending left room for another book in the series but at the same time the author wrapped things up nicely.
So if you enjoy well-researched novels and want an insider's look at Joanna Stafford's somewhat fictionalized life, you'll enjoy this one. No one related to King Henry VIII was secure or safe. The tables could turn at any moment. That's all I'm saying....more
Rebel Queen was a fascinating and gripping tale about a different culture and a time in history that -- like many Americans -- I knoLoved this story!
Rebel Queen was a fascinating and gripping tale about a different culture and a time in history that -- like many Americans -- I know little about. I haven't read many stories that included Queen Victoria, so that interested me. I have read a few books regarding the East Indian culture and their relationship with England during the early 1900s, all told from the Indian perspective. The contrast between the British culture and Indian culture during that time period is fascinating. I loved how the Indian men were appalled by the exposure of women's breasts, shoulders and necks from English fashion and the English couldn't understand the exposure of the waistline that was part of Indian fashion. Then again, you can't very easily use a corset on a bare waistline. How fortunate for the women of India.
The British Empire's insatiable thirst for more land showed in the narrative, but was skillfully woven and subtle in the approach. The point of view was flawless. All Sita knew about England came from reading English novels and authors like Shakespeare. The author was fair with the details and showed the horrors of what both people groups did to each other. The Indian rebels caused a lot of problems for the kingdom because of their aggression, but they were simply trying to oust the imperialistic people who decided India should be theirs, much like the Native Americans tried to defend their land using similar horrific means. Annexing another country to their empire often require nothing more than their presence. Intimidation by their occupancy and weaponry was effective indeed. I felt kind of bad for the people who didn't want to be there but were forced to occupy the land because they were enlisted and it was their assignment.
I found it sad how the Rani (Queen) and Sita both trusted England to respond positively to their appeal hoping that because they were women and also had a female regent, it would matter. They didn't fully understand the limitations caused by Parliament and the empire's greed. The treachery within the ranks of the Durgavasi was appalling as well. But you have to read the story to figure out what I mean by that. Anyway, I read this book fairly fast considering I don't have much reading time these days. The story was filled with culture and history and the author swept me out of this present day and into the past through her use of scenery, foods, clothing and decor. I love it when I can go to another place in my mind and feel grounded in that fantasy world. This isn't always the case with fiction, so the author did an exceptional job there.
I loved how the author told the story from Sita's perspective. That made the novel even more powerful because you got to see the Hindu influence as well as the Muslim influence of the culture during that time period. Women were not valued and seen as a liability due to the enormous dowry that was required for a marriage. The fact that young ladies were married off around ten was pretty disturbing too. At least the husbands traditionally waited for the young girl to turn into a young woman before consummating the marriage. Anyway, I found this book to be compelling and well told. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a story that effectively takes you to another time and place in your mind. ...more
This story was intriguing and somewhat tragic toward the end. What the four young women's mother intended for good - to have each of the sisters marryThis story was intriguing and somewhat tragic toward the end. What the four young women's mother intended for good - to have each of the sisters marry well and hopefully bring about peace between warring countries - didn't necessarily turn out that way. All were ambitious in their own way. All were also very powerless because they didn't have a choice regarding their husbands. They reigned in the shadow of their spouses and often weren't taken seriously by the men in their lives even though these women had wisdom to offer. I found Sanchia's tale to be particularly tragic. She just wanted to be a nun and was forced to marry so she spent her whole life feeling like she had betrayed Christ, whom she'd married in her heart.
The story of Marguerite was tragic as well. The White Queen, her mother-in-law, had her son under her thumb for years and Marguerite was scorned in many ways. She had eleven children and outlived most of them. All she wanted was the inheritance that she was promised when she married, yet all she got was grief when she tried to obtain it.
Beatrice was the most misunderstood of them all. In the end they realized she had a good heart and they hadn't appreciated her when she was around. They saw her as manipulative, ambitious, and selfish. The end of the story had a shocking revelation about Sanchia, her sister, and what she'd done to protect her. Eleanore, the queen of England and mother of King Edward I, had her own tragic tale as well.
Overall, I found this book enjoyable. I haven't finished a novel - especially one of this length - in quite a while. I think the fact that it hopped around and alternated the women's perspectives kept me reading because nothing had the chance to drag out much. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy historical fiction. I'm not sure how many of the details were true other than their births and deaths, but the conjecture from the author fit the story nicely regardless. ...more
If I could give this book ten stars, I would. This historical novel was set in 1888 in Denver, Colorado, so the setting was one of my favorites, too.If I could give this book ten stars, I would. This historical novel was set in 1888 in Denver, Colorado, so the setting was one of my favorites, too. There is something about mail-order bride stories that I really enjoy reading. It probably has to do with a newly married couple -- essentially strangers before the wedding -- discovering their love for each other.
This is the best mail-order bride story I've ever read. Ironically, the second best one was also in this series. I think Ms. Brendan has a gift when it comes to writing about romantic love between newly married couples. Add to that the tender heart the heroine has for animals and rescuing them from abuse and you have an intriguing book.
The hero was a sweetheart. Yeah, he had a pretty rigid personality at first, but as his love grew for his new bride, his strict boundaries became blurred and he learned to be spontaneous and not take life so seriously that it's predictable and boring. I loved experiencing the softening of his heart as he fell in love with her. The heroine's desire to please her husband while remaining true to herself is a good lesson for young women to learn. This novel illustrates that beautifully.
I can't say enough good things about this book. It's heartwarming and sensual at the same time, as newly married love should be. This is definitely one of my favorite books this year, if not at the top of my list!...more
I love Philippa Gregory's novels. So far every one that I've read has held my interest to the end. This one was a bit more challenging than others forI love Philippa Gregory's novels. So far every one that I've read has held my interest to the end. This one was a bit more challenging than others for some reason. It took me a lot longer to read than usual, despite the interruption in my life and routine that made reading anything challenging. I did identify with the heroine and loved how the story ended with the White Princess finally understanding what Queen Anne went through when she -- Elizabeth, the White Princess -- was the apple of King Richard's eye. I liked how it tied to the other book, Lady of the Rivers, which I found very hard to put down.
The element of the missing York princes and the legend of what may have happened to them - which no one knows for sure - mingled with curse Elizabeth made with her mother on whoever killed prince Richard, became a subtle, yet integral part of this novel. I loved that element of intrigue. Also, the fear and trepidation that Elizabeth's husband went through as long as the people of England wanted to replace him with a York Prince made this story tie into others I've read as well. I felt for Elizabeth and hurt for her being forced into a loveless marriage with a king who essentially raped her in the beginning. There was no love in their marriage, and if she had been anyone other than a York princess, the fate of being matched with the usurper, pretender Tudor King would not have taken place.
All in all, this was a good story about what it may have looked like during the time when the Tudor's feared that their throne would be taken over by a York. The ending left me feeling a bit sad, and I agree that the guilt felt by the king was well-deserved. The coolest part is that the next segment of the story follows history. Arthur marries Kathryn of Aragon and dies, thus she is remarried to Henry, who becomes the famous Henry VIII, who is well known for his many wives and lack of a legitimate male heir, resulting in the Virgin Queen. I would recommend this book for history lovers and for people who enjoy books that tie together, even if they release out of order. ...more
This story was more of a historical novel than a historical romance, but it was still a good book. There were two different stories that came togetherThis story was more of a historical novel than a historical romance, but it was still a good book. There were two different stories that came together at the end. This story had its sad moments and it's enthralling ones. It wasn't my favorite book by Melanie, and I love many of her books, but it was still worth reading. If you love fiction set during the Revolutionary War and tales of bravery, spying, and such, you will enjoy this book. ...more
I enjoyed this story. It's not my favorite book by this author, but I loved the abolitionist themes as well as the bad boy turning good plot the storyI enjoyed this story. It's not my favorite book by this author, but I loved the abolitionist themes as well as the bad boy turning good plot the story was based on. What the love of a woman will do for a man...sometimes that can turn the hardest of hearts toward God. Fortunately Jack was one of the better in the bunch... maybe the only good guy in his family besides his sweet little sister. I really loved her character. She almost made me cry several times. I'm sure she smiled at the end of the story even if it's not included in the book.
Ellie, the heroine, is everything I wish I could be myself. Tender and passionate, yet demure and sweet at the same time. But she is also honest and true to herself and she loves with her whole heart. That's a great heroine. The way the author described her feelings whenever she was around Jack was well done and my heart melted a few times when they were together. The same with Jack. A few times I almost cried. This author really knows how to pull at a reader's heartstrings. I am looking forward to the third book in this series. ...more