Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

A Pledge of Better Times

Rate this book
(from the back cover)

A sweeping tale of ambition, treachery, and passion . . .

For generations Lady Diana de Vere’s family loyally served England’s crown. But after King Charles II’s untimely death, her father becomes an outcast for refusing to submit to James II’s tyranny. Charles, Duke of St. Albans—the late king’s bastard son by actress Nell Gwyn—escapes his newly crowned uncle’s matchmaking efforts by secretly pledging to wed Diana, then departing for the Continent to become a soldier.

Before the battle-scarred war hero returns to claim his promised bride, political and religious turmoil brings about revolution and yet another coronation. As companion to Queen Mary Stuart, Diana has followed her de Vere forbears into royal service. Though she hopes Charles will abandon his military career after marriage, he resists joining the ranks of the courtiers he despises and mistrusts.

In palace corridors and within their own household the young duke and duchess confront betrayals, scandals, and tragedies that threaten to divide them. And neither the privileges of birth nor proximity to the throne can ensure their security, their advancement—-or their happiness.


First published April 11, 2015

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Margaret Porter

4 books97 followers
Because I was born into a family of readers and writers and scholars and travelers, there's no mystery about how or why I found my profession. From a very early age I invented characters and composed scenes and stories in my head. At about 10 years old I first saw my own words printed--in the grammar school newsletter that I co-founded, typed, and published. Around the same time I decided to combine my theatrical and my writing ambitions, and adapted all my favourite youth novels into scripts.
Since then many, many more words have been published: novels, nonfiction articles on British history and travel and theatre, website content, book and film reviews, my M.A. thesis, advertising copy...and more.

~ 15 novels in a variety of formats and foreign translations
~ magazine & newsletter articles
~ newspaper opinion columns
~ documentary & instructional film scripts
~ poetry

Interests and Pastimes

~ reading
~ gardening (roses & perennials)
~ travel (near & far)
~ photography (nature, travel, architectural, portrait)
~ music (I play the mandolin, my listening tastes are broad)
~ movies
~ wildlife & bird watching
~ walking my dog
~ canoeing
~ knitting & embroidery

I live with my husband and our collie-hound dog in an architecturally unique, book-filled home in a lovely and historic New England city. A favorite retreat--and my preferred writing location for many months of the year--is our rustic cottage beside one of our region's largest and most scenic lakes. We return annually to Great Britain.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
27 (30%)
4 stars
41 (45%)
3 stars
19 (21%)
2 stars
2 (2%)
1 star
1 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews
Profile Image for Melinda.
1,020 reviews
August 10, 2016
Diana de Vere, a fascinating fictional characters comes to life engaging the reader. We meet Diana as an adolescent through young adult. She secretly becomes romantically involved with Charles Beauclerk, Duke of St. Albans, resulting in their marriage.

Porter crafts a sentimental romance taking place during extreme turbulent times. Charles II is dead, brother James climbs in power and position with a share of supporter as well as adversaries. Political and religious strife create a dramatic and uneasy backdrop for stormy challenging times, aligiences are tested, The couples union withstands several trials, you’ll find yourself breathing a sign of relief for this affecting handsome duo.

Full of historical detail, well assembled, you will find yourself lost in the time along with the characters. Porter manages to transport her audience to days long ago. I hope future plans bring another narrative with further developments of this charming couple, I would love to see their future expanded upon.

Historical fictions fans will appreciate Porter and her solidly drafted story. Highly recommend, gratifying read.
Profile Image for Dianna Rostad.
Author 1 book115 followers
May 27, 2015
Porter does this incredible thing which is really quite difficult to pull off. She paints the broad historical landscape of the Stuart's last years of reign, complete with all the tidbits and intrigues, while very deftly pulling us in for a personal, in-depth story of Diana de Vere and her life with the Duke of St Albans, bastard to a king and son of an actress. A well-crafted story with enjoyable history and characters. A real treat for historical readers.
Profile Image for Patty.
1,191 reviews32 followers
May 4, 2015
I have to state that I enjoy books that tell the stories of lesser known women in history. A Pledge of Better Times does exactly that by weaving the story of Diana de Vere from snippets of her left in correspondence and other written sources. We meet her when she is still a child and she encounters King Charles II and he introduces her to his three sons by different mistresses. She is the daughter of the Earl of Oxford, a close friend of the king but a noble without a fortune. Soon Charles dies and the kingdom is thrown into disarray as his brother James takes the thrown and the religious issues that all thought were settled soon rear their ugly head. Within in the framework of history young Diana de Vere comes of age and marries one of Charles’ bastards, Charles Beauclerk, Duke of St. Albans.

Complicated history leads to compelling story possibilities and this book was a really good read. It is based solidly in reality as these two characters existed and followed the paths laid down in the book. Ms. Porter brings them to life with with rich detail and a relationship that stood the tests thrown in its way. I was quite taken with both Diana and Charles and found myself rooting for both of them as I read the book. Charles II is always an entertaining monarch so any story with him even as an ancillary character is going to be a fun book.

I found that I really didn’t want the story to end. I wanted to continue on with their story and to go on in their lives and the lives of their children. It is written beautifully and full of historical detail. This is not a period I wander into that often so it was nice to visit this period of English history again.

Profile Image for Ruth Chatlien.
Author 5 books107 followers
February 1, 2017
A well-told novel about the marriage of Diana de Vere and Charles Beauclerk, illegitimate son of Charles II and actress Nell Gwyn. I liked the character of Diana quite a lot, and I also especially enjoyed the inside look at the reigns of William and Mary.
Profile Image for Annette.
882 reviews26 followers
May 14, 2015
Source: Advanced Reader Copy provided for free from Gallica Press in exchange for a review.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent.
A sweeping tale of ambition, treachery, and passion…
For generations Lady Diana de Vere’s family loyally served England’s crown. But after King Charles II’s untimely death, her father firmly opposes James II’s tyranny. Charles Beauclerk, Duke of St. Albans—the late king’s bastard son by actress Nell Gwyn—also rebels against his newly crowned uncle’s manipulation. Secretly pledging to wed Diana, he departs for the Continent to become a soldier.
Political and religious turmoil bring about revolution and yet another coronation before Charles returns to claim his promised bride. As companion to Queen Mary II, Diana has followed her de Vere forbears into royal service. She expects Charles to abandon his military career after marriage, but he proves unwilling to join the ranks of the courtiers he despises and mistrusts.
In palace corridors and within their own household the young duke and duchess confront betrayals, scandals, and tragedies that threaten to divide them. And neither the privileges of birth nor proximity to the throne can ensure their security, their advancement—or their happiness. (Summary provided by the publisher.)
My Thoughts:
A Pledge of Better Times swept me away, I loved it!
Diana is a character who I consider a heroine. Despite the tumultuous lifestyle her parents chose, Diana was a person of character. She was a person of wisdom, patience, self-control, kindness, gentleness, judicious, moral, consistent, observant, tactful, restrained, and loyal. She was a beautiful person both inwardly and outwardly. When she made a decision is was not made with emotion alone, but with forethought. She is a person who was a great friend, daughter, subject to the king and queen, wife, and lover. Because of Diana I felt drawn-in to her magnificent story. An investment in reading about her life came natural.
I enjoyed reading about a time period that is not well-known to me: 1700s England and the Stuart reign. Charles II is king when the story begins, followed by James II, William and Mary, and Anne. I felt more drawn to Mary. The relationship between Diana and Mary were closer and this is examined in the story.
The love story is superb. I cannot begin to tell you how many love stories I've read that are boring and read more like a scientific experiment (place A in B and C will happen.) A Pledge of Better Times is smooth as sensual silk.
The dynamics of mistresses and the children born out of wedlock to kings are depicted realistically. These children were given material gifts and even titles, but were talked about behind their back as well as to their face. The humiliation they lived through made me very sad.
Profile Image for Margaret.
1,188 reviews49 followers
January 5, 2016
This is a time period that I was totally unfamiliar with, which is the main reason I wanted to be part of this tour. The first thought that stuck me while reading this book was the authors vast knowledge of the time period as well as her passion for it. Descriptive writing had my imagination going and I was able to visualize so much. My interest in art has peeked because of books like this one.

Beginning in 1684 with the death of King Charles II the reader is introduced to a number of historical figures. Though at times I had to stop and get my head around who's who's, but there is a nice list at the start of the book of who belongs to which House.

Since I am not overly familiar with the women of this time period I can't say how well known Diana is, for myself I loved reading her story. The authors writing style made it so easy to get lost in this story. Using actual historical documentation Margaret Porter has stayed true to history and very nicely filled in the gapes. The author notes are always a favorite of mine, no exception with A Pledge of Better Times, again attesting to the amount of research that has gone into this book.

I highly recommend A Pledge of Better Times to lovers of historical fiction, especially highlighting strong women.
Profile Image for Leslie Smith.
25 reviews44 followers
February 13, 2018
Porter provides a compelling view of real insiders to the events of the late 17th and early 18th century. She manages the balancing act of providing historical detail while maintaining dramatic energy. This was hard to put down! Illuminating and vivid!
Profile Image for Colleen Turner.
436 reviews100 followers
May 15, 2015
Find my full review at http://aliteraryvacation.blogspot.com.

When I began A Pledge of Better Times I was anticipating the standard, yet still very enjoyable, historical novel that centered around a person from history that, while not as well known as some, had a strategic place within the greater machinations of the time. Well, this novel is that and so much more. While the relationship between Diana de Vere and Charles Beauclerk does play a big part in the story, for me the novel was more about the political and religious rollercoaster England went through during this time (1684-1705) and how the royalty and noblemen adjusted (or not) to the changing environment.

I have to say that I wasn't overly familiar with the history of this time period before starting, beyond some basic knowledge of the key players, but Margaret Porter did an incredible job of fleshing out this world for me in such a way that I now feel quite comfortable with the goings on and the people that shaped its history. There are just so many delicious details to absorb - from fashion to ceremony to the architecture and decoration of palaces - that the reader can easily imagine seeing it all right in front of them. While I can see how this eye for detail and the vast amount of time spent on military strategies and the ever shifting political, social and religious practices could feel somewhat dry to a reader at times, without it I just don't think this would be the same novel. It is very clear that Margaret Porter knows her history and, for someone like me who isn't as familiar with it but really wants to know that sort of information to feel fully absorbed in what is going on, I very much appreciated it.

The biggest surprise to me was just how much bed hopping seemed to go on for the royalty and nobility during this time! While I knew Charles II was a well known womanizer and had bastards I had no idea how many others did the same. Beyond that, the fact that many of the mistresses and their children were openly accepted into the court and given titles, wealth and property was new to me. This sort of lascivious way of life made a wonderful counter to the more staid propriety that William III and Mary II brought to the court shortly after.

Speaking of Queen Mary, this novel felt to me as much her story as Diana's and was the most touching to me. She comes across as such a kind woman who comes to love and respect her husband beyond all else and who doesn't really get that reciprocated love back until the very end. So many people seemed to disappoint or let her down and I wanted to hope against history that she would have a happier ending.

A Pledge of Better Times is a wonderful book for those that adore deeply researched and meticulously presented English Stuart history or someone that wants to learn more about this time period. Diana is only one of many people given a voice within it and I very much enjoyed spending time with them all.
851 reviews27 followers
July 31, 2015
Power and its consequent manipulations, betrayals, immoralities, favors, and dysfunction are characteristic of 17th Century England under the reign of King Charles II, King James, King William III and his Queen Mary, and King George III. But Lady Diana de Vere is an anomaly in the middle of the turmoil that ensues from royal chaos and those who vie for favored status. Diana and her husband Charles share a common background; their fathers sired many children out of marriage and the status of “bastard” has innumerable consequences that are hard indeed to survive. Financial worries are ever-present as well. But Diana and Charles are made of feisty stuff and their love endures no matter what ever-changing circumstances surround them.
To begin with Charles knows he must become a soldier in order to make enough money to hold any higher status and connection to the royal family. Fortunately for him, the arrangement he makes with Diana’s father will become reality, a fact Diana will not discover for years. Diana lives through the trauma of King Charles II’s demise and wonders how the absolute tyranny of King James will end. Political parties connected with Parliament abound and as those parties change so do those in royal favor. Some become so powerful that their demands supersede those of the kings and queens they serve – amazing!
War with France is on and off throughout most of this novel and Charles conducts himself so favorably that he attracts the attention and favor of King William III and his Queen, Mary, becomes very fond of the companionship of Diana. That bond will be broken but justice will eventually be served as Lady Diana remains a woman of practical skills and impeccably moral character.
Joys and tragedies fill the years of Charles and Diana’s marriage and these scenes are delightfully depicted in a vivacious style by this obviously skilled author, Margaret Porter. She quite clearly knows how to balance plot and character development and present 17th Century English royalty and service in a dynamic and enchanting manner.
Fine, fine historical fiction that this reviewer highly recommends!
Profile Image for M. McCall.
Author 1 book1 follower
July 15, 2015
Meticulously researched and offering an impressive cast of real-life characters brought to vibrant life, A Pledge of Better Times expertly captures the drama, passions, politics and religious turmoil of England at the turn of the 18th century. Margaret Porter crafts her story with exquisite detail, transporting the reader into a world full of intrigue, scandal, and breathtaking danger alongside Lady Diana de Vere and Charles Beauclerk, the young Duke and Duchess of St. Albans, as they struggle to overcome the treachery and betrayal that threaten them at every turn. Prepare to sit back and savor every moment, character, and description in this captivating novel from the hand of a masterful writer.
Profile Image for Fran.
52 reviews1 follower
February 13, 2015
I've long been a fan of historical fiction - and this book was a particular treat. Porter's ability to combine historical accuracy with her author's imagination make for an enjoyable read.

The author's notes describing some of what she learned in the process of researching this story were fun to read at the end of the novel.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,284 reviews
July 4, 2015
This was a wonderful historical novel! It
presented the amazing cavalcade of 17th century England and especially Lady Diana
de Vere. The characters were vividly
drawn to life and the background richly
presented. I highly recommend the book
for history lovers and those who enjoy
learning about the lives of women.
Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.