rameau's Reviews > The King's Courtesan

The King's Courtesan by Judith James
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Just read the blurb. I'll wait.

Lady libertine, judgmental lord.


Sensuous, beautiful and determined, Hope Matthews is a favored mistress of the king. Her many charms have helped her rise from the gutter to the king’s bed. But with the new queen’s impending arrival, her nights in the royal chamber— and her hopes for security—will swiftly come to an end.


Haunted by his past, hardened by the recent civil war, Captain Robert Nichols lives only for revenge. When told he must marry the king’s courtesan to provide a cover for their affair, he’s faced with a new low. Both are pawns of a great man, but married to their dreams of independence, their clash is inevitable. Can these two wounded souls realize the answer to all their dreams might lie in each other’s arms?

Do you see that? It has it all. A debauched woman, a tortured man, and a King who wants what he wants and has the power to make it happen. It has the marriage of convenience and an inbuilt threat to the lovers to be. It has the premise of a life time.

And it's all wasted.

How rare is it to find a believable reason for a country gentleman to marry a whore? Very. Yet here it is. A libertine King without anyone holding him back has the power and the will to make his common whore a noblewoman. He exercises that power and makes a deal with a minor baronet who isn't in the position to refuse his sovereign.

Can you imagine it? Two very different people brought together on a monarch's whim and forced to live together in a pretend marriage. And let's not forget the household staff. Here, James actually surprises positively. Captain Nichols' loyal servants don't make it easy for their new mistress to slip into that role. It's just another way to keep up the pretence and show how alone Hope and Robert are in this mess. The antagonism makes the sparks fly.

And again, it's lost.

What we have here is a collection of occasionally lovely moments without a real thread to hold them together. If I skip read the weaker parts, squint, and tilt my head just so I can almost see a great story under there, but only if I try very hard. All the good is buried under characterisations I can't agree with and inconsistencies that tear apart what little plot there was. As for the plot, it feels congested. I can see the reasoning for all the twists but shoddy pacing destroys what little sense I saw there.

Still, I didn't hate it. The premise saved a lot.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
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Reading Progress

August 7, 2011 – Shelved
October 17, 2011 – Started Reading
October 17, 2011 –
15.0% "I'm assuming all this info dumb is supposed to endear me to the characters machinating the unhappy couple together?"
October 17, 2011 –
20.0% ""How curious now to find him in love with his own wife.""
October 18, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by VMom (new) - added it

VMom I agree with you that the book does not live up to the premise.

rameau It's such a shame, isn't it. I'd love for another, a better writer to take the premise and revamp it into something spectacular.

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