Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Forsaking All Other

Rate this book
Love is no game for women; the price is far too high.

England 1585.

Bess Stoughton, waiting woman to the well-connected Lady Allingbourne, has discovered that her father is arranging for her to marry an elderly neighbour. Normally obedient Bess rebels and wrests from her father a year’s grace to find a husband more to her liking.

Edmund Wyard, a taciturn and scarred veteran of England’s campaign in Ireland, is attempting to ignore the pressure from his family to find a suitable wife as he prepares to join the Earl of Leicester’s army in the Netherlands.

Although Bess and Edmund are drawn to each other, they are aware that they can have nothing more than friendship. Bess knows that Edmund’s wealth and family connections place him beyond her reach. And Edmund, with his well-honed sense of duty, has never considered that he could follow his own wishes. Until now.

With England on the brink of war and fear of Catholic plots extending even into Lady Allingbourne’s household, time is running out for both of them.

306 pages, Paperback

First published March 12, 2018

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Catherine Meyrick

3 books65 followers
Catherine Meyrick is an Australian writer of romantic historical fiction. Her stories weave fictional characters into the gaps within the historical record – tales of ordinary people who are very much men and women of their time, yet in so many ways are like us today. These are people with the same hopes and longings as we have to find both love and their own place in a troubled world.

Catherine lives in Melbourne, Australia but grew up in Ballarat, a large regional city steeped in history. Until recently she worked as a customer service librarian at her local library. She has a Master of Arts in history and is also an obsessive genealogist. When she is not writing, reading and researching, she enjoys gardening, the cinema and music of all sorts from early music and classical to folk and country & western. And, not least, taking photos of the family cat to post on Instagram.

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
212 (45%)
4 stars
162 (34%)
3 stars
67 (14%)
2 stars
24 (5%)
1 star
5 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 62 reviews
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,182 reviews217 followers
June 11, 2018
Read more reviews like this plus fascinating author interviews, exclusive guest posts and book extracts on my blog: https://whatcathyreadnext.wordpress.com/

I love historical fiction and the Tudor period is one of my favourite settings so I was immediately attracted to Forsaking All Other for this reason alone. I also adore the cover. However, I don’t really do ‘romance’ in historical novels, finding the romance often a little incongruous or on the sentimental side. However, in this case I needn’t have worried because Forsaking All Other is an interesting, well-researched historical novel wrapped around a believable and touching love story.

Bess Stoughton, widowed after only a few years of marriage to a man chosen by her father, is facing marriage to yet another man chosen by her father, this time someone she positively loathes. However, with no money of her own, she is in the position of many women of that time, expected to agree to a marriage that will bring financial advantage, influence or status to her family. ‘Marriage had nothing to do with personal wishes – it was for strengthening the family, making alliances, increasing wealth and power.’

Torn between her role as dutiful daughter and her desire for a husband she can both love and respect, Bess decides to take her future in her own hands so far as she is able and find a husband for herself. The household of Lady Allingbourne where Bess serves as waiting woman provides a convenient hunting ground and Bess soon finds herself the object of two men’s admiration. Both, in their different ways, offer something of what she is looking for but, when she makes her choice, the path of love does not run smooth.

Bess makes a very engaging heroine. She’s spirited, intelligent and plucky but her independent spirit sometimes results in her putting herself in risky situations. Luckily, in most cases, there is someone on hand to come to her aid. Later, she will not be so fortunate. I also have to mention Joyce, Bess’s young sister, who is a great character in her own right – wise beyond her years.

The backdrop to Bess’s story is the period of English history in which practising the Catholic faith was outlawed and ‘Papist plots’ to overthrow Queen Elizabeth were feared and ruthlessly put down. When Bess helps one of her fellow waiting women, she becomes involved in a game way more dangerous than the game of love, unwittingly putting herself in mortal danger. Bess finds out there are powerful and ruthless individuals who will stop at nothing to protect the realm or their family’s interests.

Will Bess find happiness and contentment in the end? You’ll have to read the book to find out…

I really enjoyed Forsaking All Other. I found the historical detail fascinating – the clothing, the food, the domestic routine of a Tudor household – and the story line engaging and compelling. This ‘romance phobic’ found that element of the book not soppy at all but heart-warming and believable. I hope to see more books by this author in future.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in return for an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Jan.
881 reviews170 followers
August 26, 2022
Quite an enjoyable visit to England in the 1500s, although the storyline moved a little too slowly for my taste. The settings and historical aspects of the book definitely conveyed you to a different time and place, which I appreciated. HRs that are brazenly historically inaccurate are annoying to me, but this book happily did not fall into that category.

Bess and Edmund's love story was quite a nice tale, but it was definitely a slow-burn, and I didn't really feel their passion and love, even though it was stated on page. I would also like to have known a little more about Bess's first marriage and why it was a failure.

But overall, a decent read, and I would consider reading more by this author.

Profile Image for Theresa Smith.
Author 5 books163 followers
July 12, 2018
Set in the Elizabethan end of the Tudor era, Forsaking All Other is an absorbing novel of historical fiction, examining the miniature of class and social conventions against a backdrop of Catholic reprisals. While it is in part an historical romance, it also has themes of war and political insurgence.

Bess Stoughton was a worthy heroine, brave and intelligent, railing against the control of her father and determined to at least have some say in her own future. Already widowed and having lost a child, she was certainly no simpering young maid, but rather a strong and forthright woman who was wise to the ways of the world and woman’s place within it. It was a real meeting of minds between her and Edmund Wyard and the love story that evolved between these two credible characters warmed my heart. Catherine Meyrick weaves the many issues of inequality that existed between men and women during this era into her story and highlights just how much a woman was at the mercy of her father and/or her husband. Men had the power to shape a woman’s life for the better or the worse, and sadly, despite being ruled by a Queen, woman were regarded for the most part with suspicion and largely dismissed as having no ability to think for themselves. To have a character such as Edmund at the helm of this novel was a refreshing balance to offer, as was Bess, a strong and capable woman who was unwilling to simply do her father’s bidding.

To the more sinister thread running through this novel, that of the reprisals against Catholics, the sanctioned witch hunt that terrorised ordinary English people. Fear and suspicion were justifiably ever present, and no one was immune to having doubt cast upon them. I found myself quite angry at two people within this novel: Edmund’s mother, which should come as no surprise because she was a truly awful person, entirely evil. But the other I struggled with, at first feeling great sympathy for her plight, but later cursing her selfish intentions, and this was Lucy. She made Bess an accomplice to her plans and consequently put Bess in grave danger, a fact she had to be well aware of given the nature of her intentions. She was not nearly as naive as she had intended people think her. Both of these women each created their own brand of havoc for Bess and as the tension mounted throughout the latter part of the novel, so too did my own tension – I couldn’t stop reading! I was completely captivated!

The author notes at the end of the novel indicate the amount of research that went into this novel in order to ensure authenticity and it really shows throughout the story. There was a genuine feel of being true to the era and the circumstances throughout, giving Forsaking All Other an air of credibility that I appreciated enormously. It really is an enjoyable novel and one that I highly recommend to fans of historical fiction set in the Tudor/Elizabethan era.

Thanks is extended to the author for providing me with a copy of Forsaking All Other for review.
Profile Image for Donna Maguire.
4,392 reviews104 followers
June 7, 2018

This book is excellent, I thoroughly enjoyed every page!

Anyone who follows my blog will know that I am a massive fan of historical fiction and the Tudor period so this book was definitely one for me!!

The writing style for the story as perfect, it flowed so well and it took me back in time when I read it. I felt as though as I was living at the same time as the characters.

The characterisation was spot on and the whole book was superb.

No hesitation - 5 stars from me for this one!!
Profile Image for Camille.
464 reviews19 followers
July 29, 2018
I really enjoyed Forsaking All Other. The story is believable. Catherine Meyrick has skillfully recreated the everyday life of Tudor England - you're there with the characters without feeling like you're told about it. I don't read much Tudor historical fiction as I feel it often revolves around the same characters, mainly Henry VIII et al., so it was refreshing to read about "nobodies". The dialogues are well written, with a sense of the older English language without sounding forced.

I really liked the character of Bess. She is a smart woman with a lot of common sense. I think that too often heroines can be too feisty to be believable, which means they end up in stupid situations, or on the other hand, quite shallow. I felt for Bess right from the start. Edmund Wyard was also a good character, in the vein of Mr. Darcy - the gruff guy who is good inside. All the characters were well developed and even the biggest villain of the story had their own reasons for being nasty that one could understand.

There is some romance in the story, but just like in real life, it is part of the story and doesn't just exist for the sake of it. Trust me, I really am not a fan of romance, as you might have gathered from some of my previous reviews. Here it's tasteful and has its place.

I also really appreciated the historical note at the end of the novel that explained Meyrick's choices for Forsaking All Other, which is always a great addition to historical fiction.
Profile Image for Rosanne Lortz.
Author 13 books168 followers
April 13, 2018
Bess Stoughton had the misfortune to marry a man who didn't love her. Now that she is a young widow, she is content to remain a lady-in-waiting to Lady Allingbourne, but her father has other plans. When he arranges a second marriage for her, to a filthy and lecherous old man who will provide a good dowry, Bess balks at obedience and makes her escape. Furious, her father grudgingly agrees to give her one year to make a better match.

Edmund Wyard is a wealthy landowner and a soldier through and through. The scars on his pockmarked face mirror the scars on his soul from the nightmarish experiences of his campaign in Ireland. His mother, Lady Wyard, is determined to get him married to a young, biddable girl named Lucy Torrington, but Edmund wants a wife he can converse with--a woman of equal mind.

When Bess' friend Philippa becomes betrothed and later married, Bess and Edmund are thrown into each other's company. As Bess tries to facilitate the relationship between Edmund and Lucy, she discovers that Edmund's hard edges conceal a kind and gallant spirit. Edmund, also, becomes increasingly intrigued by the thought of a woman who is sensible, virtuous, and attractive.

But can marriage be based solely on romantic love? Parental opposition, Bess' lack of a fortune, a war on the continent, and the English terror of a Papist plot all conspire to come between the two, threatening to leave them both utterly forsaken of all they hold dear.

This book was a delightful look at Tudor/Elizabethan life not centered around the royal court. Rather than highlighting one of Henry VIII's wives or Queen Elizabeth herself, it focuses on fictional characters against a historical background. The theme of choice is explored many times in the book. It is a world where men get to choose; women don't. But in a larger sense, it is a world where parents choose, and children's duty is to obey. Is it even possible to leave father and mother and, forsaking all other, cleave only to one's true love?

The beautiful cover for this book is what initially caught my eye, but I enjoyed the historical language used in this book and befriended the characters immediately. I recommend Forsaking All Other for anyone brave enough to step off the beaten path in the Tudor/Elizabethan world of stories. You won't regret it.  
Profile Image for Maria.
1,738 reviews30 followers
November 30, 2018
"Received an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for a fair review"
A quote:
“That means little with Edmund. When he remembers he can be quite charming, but he does not remember often.” (Loc. 1488, quote from ARC)

“Forsaking All Other” is a carefully crafted and convincingly well-researched historical romance novel, with two strong characters who slowly fall for each other.
I really like a story where the couple moves from initial hostility to friendship, mutual admiration and attraction, and that’s what happens with Edmund and Bess. They are great characters: a taciturn and brave hero with and “unsightly face”, who is a very kind and considerate man, and a strong and intelligent heroine.
Catherine Meyrick tackles a wide range of issues – I especially liked the take on the social and legal aspects of women’s submission and arranged marriages - against the religious and political backdrop of English and European 16th century history.
I also appreciated the final “Historical Note” where the author writes about the story’s historical setting and personages and reveals her sources.
The writing style is rather descriptive, creating what seems to be an intended dispassionate tone even when dealing with emotions and feelings. I liked it, even though sometimes it felt a bit flat.
I'm grateful to the author, BooksGoSocial and NetGalley for providing a free copy
Profile Image for eyes.2c.
2,437 reviews50 followers
December 4, 2018
A Woman's Lot!

A harrowing tale of love, duty and fear in the Elizabethan times of the 1580's. A time when fear of the Spanish and papists was rife in England, when wars were being fought to "protect both England and [the] Protestant faith."
More than that though this is the story of the widowed Bess Staunton fighting for the right to decide her own future, and not that of her father's devising. As a widow without a sinecure Bess is once more a slave to her father's wishes. For the time she has escaped him, serving as a waiting woman to Lady Allingbourne.
When Bess becomes a friend to Edmund Wyard, whose mother is a vile cold hearted wretch with very decided plans for her son's future, the telling of the tale becomes even more involved. Bess is drawn into a web of deceit and fear.
I was enthralled by Bess's story and raced across the pages as the intensity of her journey captured me.

A NetGalley ARC
Profile Image for Lauri  S..
Author 3 books120 followers
March 22, 2018
I truly enjoyed this love story and longed for its fruition: the hallmark of a good romance. Forsaking All Other is a novel with attention to detail in both historical accuracy and character. I stayed up late several nights to find out what would happen to the two main characters and how they would escape the traps laid for them. The setting of 16th century England, with all of its sights, smells, and sounds, including the terror of papist-hysteria, was engrossing and well-researched.

I found kind, intelligent, stout-hearted Bess a relatable heroine for a modern reader but she still fit well into her world, and Edmund was an intriguing and unconventional hero. There’s something of Mr. Darcy in his demeanor, but I thought he was warmer than that. See the dance scene for another such parallel. Lady Wyard is a formidable villainess whose depth of coldness is scary, and even the minor characters are well-drawn, real people.

Catherine Meyrick is an author for fans of Tracy Chevalier and Philippa Gregory, who gives a voice and a believable glimpse into the lives of every day people in the 16th century.
Profile Image for Sonia Mcintosh.
83 reviews2 followers
August 20, 2018
I coudn't put down this first novel by Catherine Meyrick. The characters were believable and I felt their joy and their pain. I love the attention to historical detail and even the author's historical notes at the end of the book. Looking forward to reading more from this author.
Profile Image for Mary Yarde.
Author 6 books137 followers
December 28, 2018
The Coffee Pot Book Club Historical Romance Book Of The Year Award 2018 — Gold Medal Winner.

Love is no game for women; the price is far too high.

Bess Stoughton has always been a dutiful daughter. She has never done anything to displease her father. However, it has been two years since her husband died and now her father has decided it is time for Bess to wed again. However, his choice in a husband for her is fatally flawed. Bess would rather die than marry the old and predatory Master Litchfield. So for the first time in her life, Bess defies her father and flees back to Lady Allingbourne, and once again takes up her duties as a lady-in-waiting. Now all she has to do is find a husband that is as rich as Master Litchfield but with a few more morals. Once she has secured a husband, Bess is sure that her father will forgive her.

Edmund Wyard’s life is one battle after another. With England on the brink of war and the constant fear of Catholic plots, now is not the time to find himself a wife. So his mother has decided to find one for him. However, what his mother thinks would make him the perfect bride and what he thinks would make for a happy marriage are two very different things.

Edmund wasn’t prepared for the flutter in his heart and a yearning in his soul when he met Bess. Bess is totally unsuitable — his mother would never agree to the match, but try as he might, Edmund cannot find the will to keep away from her. Edmund knows he must be careful and not lose his heart to her. He must not fall in love. He cannot.

Forsaking All Other by Catherine Meyrick is a thought-provoking tale of sacrifice, honour and love. Rich in historical detail, Meyrick takes her reader on an intimate look at what life was like for women in the Tudor era. Between the covers of this remarkable book, we learn how women had no control of their future. They could only hope that their parents would be considerate to their feelings when they chose a husband for them. Unfortunately for Bess, her father chooses unwisely.

Edmund finds himself in a similar situation as Bess. His mother has found the perfect lady for him to marry. Lucy comes with a substantial dowry. However, Edmund can find no common ground between the two of them, and he fears their marriage would be an unhappy one. He really wants to marry someone like Bess. If only… I really liked Edmund. He is a wonderfully dynamic character as well as being a very honourable one. He has flaws, but that made him all the more likeable. His mother’s overbearing personality does not cow him, although there is an element of fear. Lady Margaret Wyard is not a woman to be crossed. The romance between Edmund and Bess is a sweet simmering build. It is filled with tender moments and gentle touches. I enjoyed reading about them and watching their relationship develop

This story does not shy away from some of the undesirable topics of this time. In Elizabethan England there was a growing fear of a Catholic rebellion, and although Queen Elizabeth was tolerant at the beginning of her reign to her Catholic subjects, in the latter half she was beginning to lose patience with them. If you were caught practicing this religion, the ramifications were horrific. Meyrick’s portrayal of the historical Richard Topcliffe was very harrowing. Topcliffe was determined to eradicate Catholicism from England, and he often used torture and rape to secure a confession. The fear of Topcliffe and his agents are evident throughout this story.

Forsaking All Other is a love story, so a happy ending was to be expected although at one point I did wonder how on earth Meyrick was going to pull this off as our brave and heroic protagonists battled to stay alive amidst war, treachery and lies.

I think Meyrick has set a new standard of excellence. Forsaking All Other is certainly the best historical romance book I have read in this era. It is, without a doubt, a plot-driven page-turner of a book.

If you are looking for your next great historical romance, then consider picking up a copy of this book.

I Highly Recommend.

Reviewed by Mary Anne Yarde
The Coffee Pot Book Club.
Profile Image for Barbara Strickland.
Author 6 books38 followers
January 27, 2022
An absolutely beautiful read

This was a flowing, gentle tale of love and a difficult time in history. The characters swept us into their lives with sweetness and a real sense of stepping back into a time when women were not valued as they should be despite a female monarch.
However as always there are those who stand apart and Bess finds such a man and even if her life takes a dramatic turn because of it, love prevails. Wonderful descriptions, good dialogue and a very pleasing if sometimes unpleasant story. The era, the 1500’s was a harsh one where a choice of the wrong religion meant persecution and death. Meyrick tells it all beautifully.
November 1, 2018
I love historical fiction with romance and Catherine Meyrick does not disappoint! I felt as if I were in the 1500’s. Once I got through a few chapters of setting up the story and characters, I was hooked. Well worth reading.
Profile Image for Janine.
4 reviews3 followers
October 31, 2018
I loved it, great story with well drawn characters (and of course historically accurate). Kept me up late for quite a few nights wanting to find out what happened next!!
Profile Image for gj indieBRAG.
1,505 reviews66 followers
December 3, 2018
We are proud to announce that FORSAKING ALL OTHER by Catherine Meyrick is a B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree. This tells readers that this book is well worth their time and money!
299 reviews
December 24, 2018
More like 3.5? I was really enjoying this, but I couldn't enjoy the conclusion. I felt like there was a lot of trauma that should have been explored more and dealt with rather than moving straight to the HEA, which felt rushed to me. But, all the historical research was fantastic and it felt very true to the period.
141 reviews5 followers
December 13, 2018
Forsaking All Others by Catherine Meryrick. BooksGoSocial, 2018.

I loved this book!

The story takes place over two years in Elizabethan England, 1585-1587.

Now that her husband has been dead two years, Bess Stoughton, a young widow, hopes to find someone to marry and have children. Seeking a loving relationship this time, she manages to postpone her father’s arrangement to trade her to an elderly and unsavoury neighbour for a coveted piece of land.

Although blessed with friends and sisters who love her, Bess travels alone in disguise, is persecuted as a suspected Catholic, and falls prey to a hateful, vindictive, controlling mother-in-law.

This book is beautifully written, supported with well-developed characters and historical details that enhance the story. I love to read stories with substance, where I am not only swept away by the characters and action, but I also learn something. Meryick describes life in the Tudor era with authority; her historical notes are a bonus.

Why aren’t all historical romances like this one? This book is a keeper. I know I will reread it

Disclosure: I received a review copy of Forsaking All Others free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Viper Spaulding.
2,890 reviews19 followers
December 18, 2018
Stunning historical romance set in Elizabethan England!

The romance is a simple set-up - Bess has to find a husband of her own choosing or be forced to wed the man her father has chosen; Edmund is also being pushed to get married, but he's hampered by his family's expectations. Even knowing that these two will find their HEA by the end of the book doesn't detract from the exquisite path they take to get there.

This story is breathtaking in its beauty, vividly describing the historical setting and packing in just enough political intrigue to make you feel like you're right there experiencing everything along with the characters. This is the best kind of literary time-travel, and it left me with such a book hangover when I was done. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.
July 25, 2020
An excellent historical novel

Thoroughly enjoyed this excellent book. Was well written. This period of English history has always been a favorite of mine. Author's plot well scripted; characters believable. Excellent book. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Clarissa.
181 reviews7 followers
July 3, 2018
This was a beautifully written book; one that takes place in one of my favorite times in history. Perhaps one has gathered that by how passionate I can be about the Elizabethan era. With a backdrop of the Catholics versus Protestants and always the worry of ‘Papist Plots’ to overthrow Elizabeth, I was certainly intrigued. I was always rather awestruck by how many plots were hatched or at least, thought were hatched.

Our heroine, Bess Stoughton, has been given a year to find a husband of her own choosing, upon her father arranging a marriage to an elderly neighbor. Meanwhile, Edmund Wyard is a veteran from the Ireland campaign. Whilst he needs to marry, he has no inclination to. But when he and Bess meet, there’s a connection. They’re from two different backgrounds, however, and statuses. So it does beg the question of if they’ll be able to overcome that?

Both are excellent characters, equally able to draw you in. The story is crafted beautifully and keeps you guessing. You need to grab a copy for yourselves so you can read this; it’s a wonderful story.
Profile Image for Samantha Morris.
Author 5 books33 followers
April 19, 2018
If you like historical and romantic fiction, then this book is for you.

I’ll admit now that romance isn’t something I would normally read. However I found myself pleasantly surprised with this book.

Set in 1585 amidst a torrid time in English history, we follow the story of Bess Stoughton and her mission to find a new husband. Normally such a story would bore me – however the main character of the story, Bess, is a strong willed young woman who takes risk. Many would perhaps say that is a cliche in the world of romantic fiction, however I found her characterisation completely endearing. She is a woman who knows what she wants, and won’t let anything get in the way. The object of her affection is a young man who would not normally catch the eye of a young woman – be it for his land and his money. But it soon becomes clear that the two cannot be any more than friends…with his mother controlling his marriage and Bess in need of a husband, they need to look elsewhere.

Not that it stays that way, of course.

The story twists and turns throughout the normality of life at the time. Bess is a waiting lady for Lady Allingbourne and we see the day to day activities that such women got up to at the same. But mixed in with that normality is the danger of life at the time, too. England is in the grip of war – not only against the Spanish, but against the Catholics at home as well. There’s always that fear lurking, on every page, that something awful is going to happen. Are there secret Catholics in Lady Allingbourne’s staff? Will the object of Bess’ affection come home from war?

The story moves quickly – Meyrick’s writing style honestly made this book a joy to read. It’s been a good while since I stayed up late to finish reading a book but this one, I just couldn’t put down. Whilst it is set in an era I know little about – there’s a wonderful section on the historical setting at the end of the book – this book was a joy to read. As I’ve already mentioned it’s not my normal cup of tea however I enjoyed it immensely and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in romantic, historical fiction.
Profile Image for Patty.
1,191 reviews32 followers
June 4, 2018
Elizabethan England was not the best of times to be a woman. At least not a woman of the middling upper class. Bess is a young widow who is serving a well born woman and is happy in that role. She is suddenly called home after her stepmother has a hard birthing. She and her stepmother did not get along as Bess was at a difficult age to lose her mother and saw this new woman as an interloper. While home her father informs her that she is to marry the old and decrepit neighbor as he lusts after a piece of land that this man owns. Bess objects but her father basically tells her tough nuts.

Given that in this day a woman without means either belonged to her father or her husband Bess has little choice in the matter but she finds a surprise ally and makes her escape. She does tell her father that if she cannot find a match within a year she will come home and marry the lecher next door.

Bess goes back to the household and tries to be calm and set about finding a husband but she soon learns that a woman without a dowry is pretty much screwed. Ultimately she does meet a man and as with all storybook romances they don’t like each other at first but do intrigue each other to distraction. Edward is a noble who also feels constrained by his role with a mother who wants to run his life.

So what we have is your basic romance novel wrapped up in Elizabethan ribbons. But those ribbons make the book a far better read than the typical tale. The history is well researched and added in to the mix is the mess that was the Catholic/Protestant fears of the time. It all makes for a book well grounded in its time and place with strong characters and an entertaining tale. There is nothing groundbreaking in the plot and there are a few small holes but nothing that kept me from thoroughly enjoying the book.
Profile Image for Annette.
882 reviews26 followers
June 5, 2018
My Thoughts:
I love this story. I love the romantic element. I love the time period. I love the history of this era. I love the main character: Bess Stoughton.
Bess Stoughton is a mature woman. She is a widow. She is one of Lady Allingbourne’s waiting women. Bess is sent home to have a meeting with her father. Her father has arranged for her to marry an older man. This pushes Bess to take matters in to her own hands. I love this aspect of her personality. She is a woman who creates her own life. She has tried to live an obedient life with respect to her father. However, at this point in life, she wants to choose who she will marry. Bess is a wise and savvy woman. She is not innocent and naïve to men’s ploys. I love how she responds with wisdom and tact to suiters. She has self-control, and is ready to respond or remain quiet when threatened.
During this era in England, papists were considered a threat and ill-treated. To be labeled a papist meant probable imprisonment and interrogation. Forsaking All Other does not give a strong history lesson on how Catholics and Protestants were maligned and punished. It is a part of the plot.
The romantic element in Forsaking All Other is beautiful. It is endearing and memorable. The emphasis is a self-sacrificing and deep mature love, rather than a steamy story.
Forsaking All Other is one of the best historical fiction books I’ve read this year!
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review. The review copy was a paperback from the author, Catherine Meyrick.
Profile Image for Laura.
3,187 reviews318 followers
June 5, 2018
This book takes place in one of my favorite historical time periods. The struggles between Catholics and Protestants is in the forefront and marriage matches are made to form alliances and keep peace, as well as for many other political reasons. While a woman is honestly a property to be owned and traded, per her father's wishes, the women of this period are very intelligent and strong.

Some fathers also have a heart, or just understand it would do not good to try to force their daughters' actions. Bess is given a reprieve, of sorts, as long as she can arrange to be married within a time period. She is a risk taker, strong willed, and strong in her desires and actions. The pace of this story moves very quickly, keeping the reader's interests at all times.

This is also a story about a romance that starts out with intense feelings of dislike.
Edmund could be a character that is difficult to care for, but who turns out to have redeeming qualities.

I enjoyed the language and the factual history used in this book, against which this fictional, yet possible, story played out.
Profile Image for Amanda Wayne.
10 reviews
August 6, 2019
Good historical fiction

I really enjoyed this tale. I finished it in one sitting. I liked that it was set in Tudor England but wasn't the same story about characters we know quite well. The characters are mostly fictional, but believable within the time period. I liked that they had flaws. The male protagonist isn't gorgeous with rippling abs and the female isn't curvy, insipid, and simpering. The book highlights the struggle of a young widow between duty to her family and her own desires. The undercurrent of the religious struggles in the protestant Elizabethan tiime was a nice addition and helped really sell the time period. This isn't a love story loosely set in Tudor times. It's a Tudor story with a love story in it.
648 reviews
June 3, 2023
This book tells the story of a widow called Bess who is living in times when duty to the family is seen as important, and where marriage is arranged to further family fortunes. She serves as a lady in waiting for a woman who is at a higher level of society than hers, but who is caring to those who serve her. It is set during the times of Elizabeth I and so within the story the wariness of the Protestants towards the papists.
I loved the pacing of the book, the main characters I would enjoy to meet in person, and the ones who are nasty, mostly get the right consequences. I recommend it as a book to read.
Profile Image for Christie Sitterly.
259 reviews11 followers
June 9, 2018
If you love a good novel about perky, strong-willed, forward-thinking women, then this book is for you. This historical novel takes place in England in the late 1500s. Bess is facing an arranged marriage in this time of oppressed women. This novel has all of the great elements of a good story: love with a dollop of conflict, secrets, war, and lies. Fans of The Soldier's Return by Laura Libricz will appreciate this story, as well.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
73 reviews37 followers
May 18, 2020
A fun historical romance

Quick, fairly light, scratched the itch I had for a well written historical piece about fictional characters. After a while I get bored of novels about real historical figures and I loved the unpredictability of a completely new story. It was romantic, funny at times, and very sweet. Thoroughly recommend.
Profile Image for ChillwithabookAWARD With.
453 reviews16 followers
May 28, 2018
Forsaking All Other by Catherine Meyrick has received a Chill with a Book Readers' Award.

"The book was so satisfying, it kept me turning the pages."

Pauline Barclay
Founder of Chill with a Book Awards
Profile Image for Margaret Fisk.
Author 24 books38 followers
January 7, 2019
Originally posted on Tales to Tide You Over

The year is 1585, Queen Elizabeth I is on the English throne, and the clash between Papists and Protestants is a full-scale war. The religious war forms the background of Forsaking All Other and is an integral part of the novel. This is a powerful story steeped in the religious conflicts of the time both personally and because Edmund Wyard, the male lead, is a soldier determined to protect England from Papist plotting. Bess Stoughton finds herself torn between personal loyalties and those to her Queen in a way that illustrates the difficulties of the environment as little else could.

This novel is a romance between Bess and Edmund, one full of troubles and triumphs. It is also a work of historical fiction, illuminating the political and religious beliefs prevalent then. Bess sets out to find herself a better match by running away and disguising her true situation when her father decides to use her to regain a parcel of land sold to the neighbor generations before. She’d accepted his first choice of a husband, as every good daughter should, and been widowed after an unhappy marriage. Bess refuses to give in to a lecherous man old enough to be her grandfather who lusts after little girls and happily invited her younger half-sisters to come live with them once this farce of a marriage was complete.

She might have issues with her father for remarrying so quickly when her mother died and envy the happy home he made for his second family, but she would not allow her half-sisters to suffer abuse at her hand. This sends Bess on a desperate mission to find a suitable husband after begging her father for a year’s grace in the letter she left behind.

Not only does this premise work within the rules of the time, by skirting them, but for those unaware of women’s place, the author finds an innocent child in Bess’s step sister to ask the question of where the rules of fidelity and rights lie. Bess answers truthfully that a man is not held accountable but the woman bears all.

This is just one example of how the novel is ripe with position, power, and lineage, especially with how those only recently joined to the higher ranks exert their position forcefully with no consideration to others. Cruel spite and sheer selfishness rule while those with good hearts are easily led astray in their attempt to aid others. The novel is very rich in the history and makes it come alive as you see how people are treated and the costs of those treatments.

As to the love story, it winds throughout. We get to see the relationship develop from contempt to respect and finally care for each other. Bess sees through to the spirit and heart Edmund hides behind his gruff exterior, having neither the good looks or trust in women to make his ventures successful. He is reluctantly willing to concede to his mother’s assistance in finding a bride, but that concession comes to haunt him. His mother is a cruel, heartless woman holding herself blameless when his father sought comfort in a mistress and yet punishing her sons for their father’s choice.

This is far from a simple story, and there were moments that made me fearful or brought me to tears. Circumstances, both accidental and deliberate, do much to tear Bess and Edmund apart in ways heavily dependent on the events of that period. The yoke of history does not lie easy on their lives, nor is their love given the blessing of their friends and family. Ultimately, this is a romance and lives up to the promise of a happy ending. They must work hard to earn those final moments, though.

The historical notes at the end make for an interesting read as well. Not only do you learn more about the resources used, but also the difficult balance of writing a book true to the setting that still appeals to modern sensibilities. And for those concerned about the level of sensuality, while their love is strong, it is consummated behind closed doors and after they have exchanged vows.

I’ve tried to give a glimpse into the wealth of detail and complication in this story without any direct spoilers. I hope my enjoyment is clear as I felt drawn into this story where two less than perfect people find their other half and overcome mountains to secure a happily ever after. It’s well worth the time spent in Catherine Meyrick’s hands.

P.S. I received this title from BooksGoSocial through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 62 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.