Heidi's Reviews > The Boleyn Deceit

The Boleyn Deceit by Laura Andersen
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Four stars: An entertaining, well researched book that presents and alternate course in history.

Henry IX, William, the son of the infamous Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, is the royal heir to the throne of England. At eighteen, he is one of the most powerful men in Europe. Yet he is surrounded by treachery and deceit as those around him try and usurp his power. The country is still squabbling over religious differences, thanks to his father and his lustful desires. The loyal Catholics still believe that Henry's half sister Mary should be crowned Queen, and they will stop at nothing to see that she reaches the throne. Meanwhile, William is trying to maintain a shaky peace with the French by entering in an engagement with the nine year old French princess. Truth be told, William has no intention of marrying the French girl, his heart belongs to another, Minuette, the orphan ward of his late mother. The problem is Minuette's is taken by someone else. William is surrounded by people who are bent on their own desires, even those he trusts the most. Will William keep his throne and marry the girl he loves?
What I Liked:
*I am fascinated by the torrid, bloody and treacherous history of the Tudor family. Henry VIII remains an interesting and despicable villain even today. I enjoyed delving into a book that takes the written history and turns everything upside down by presenting an alternate version of the events. In Ms. Andersen's vision, Henry and Anne's son is not stillborn, instead he survives to ascend to the throne. At eighteen, William rules the country with an iron fist, while getting what he wants. He is his father's son after all. In this alternate version of history, Anne was not executed, instead she died of illness. Her brother, George Boleyn, Lord Rochford and his wife Jane survive, and in fact, George remains a closer advisor to William. The story follows a quartet of characters, William, Elizabeth, Dominic and Minuette. Three are fictional, while Elizabeth is presented as the strong, determined woman we all know from history. Even though this is a fictional account, Ms. Andersen implements her story with accurate historical characters, and she follows true events while spinning her own tale. There is still plenty of deceit, plotting and betrayals as the noblemen of William's court attempt to conspire against him and remove him from the throne. The biggest traitor is someone right under William's nose. It was entertaining to navigate through this fictional account, and I liked piecing together the evidence to find the enemy.
While I liked all four of the main characters, Elizabeth by far was my favorite. She is intriguing and I loved seeing her flounder as she suffers through a romantic betrayal. Robert Dudley is indeed a true player in Elizabeth's life and most of the events depicted in the book involving Dudley actually happened. I loved watching the young, yet noble and intelligent Elizabeth grow into the smart and capable woman who led England so successfully. William, Henry IX, has many of they same tendencies as his father. He is young, rash and lustful and willing to throw away the peace of his country for a woman. He tries to be loyal to his friends, but in the end, his own selfish desires overrule his good intentions. I liked getting to know the fictional son of Anne and Henry VIII. Minuette is a sweet, lovely young lady who is caught between two powerful men. she is smart and unwilling to let someone get away with murder. I appreciated her fortitude and liked watching her unravel the mystery. Dominic, aside from Elizabeth, was my favorite character. He is William's best friend and confidant. He holds Minuette's heart, but is unable to be honest with William about his romantic interest. Despite the fact that Dominic is in love with Minuette, he remains loyal and true to William. He is noble, kind and the type of man who should be the King.
*I am not well read on the Tudor dynasty, in fact, I found myself googling certain people and events in history as I read so I could compare. What I did find was that despite the fact that Ms. Andersen is presenting a fictional account, she has taken the time to research and present a historically accurate portrayal of most of the events recounted in the story. The turmoil in the country over religion, the plotting and so forth are tweaked a bit to fit the story, but for the most part the events are true to history. The characters in the book, aside from the three main fictional characters are all actual historical people. If you are a fan of books that are all about the Tudor era, and you want something a bit different, take a chance and pick this up. Even though it is not a true account, it is well researched and detailed.
*I enjoyed putting together the clues in the book to try and uncover a murderer and a traitor. Just when I thought everything was figured out, there are a couple of surprising twists and I was startled to find out who the true perpetrator was.
And The Not So Much:
*The biggest problem I had was keeping everything straight and grasping what was going on. Probably the majority of my problems was due to the fact that I plunged in and started with the second book. It was a sink or swim read, and I did struggle in the beginning as I floundered to understand the historical changes and the characters. However, I was patient and I did manage to plant my feet on the ground about a quarter of the way through. Ms. Andersen does a good job of providing plenty of refresher details throughout so I wasn't too loss. Even though I was able to piece together the story, I would not recommend going into this without having read the first book. I still don't know how Henry VIII died in this version and I am anxious now to go back and find out. I am planning on reading the first book as soon as possible.
*The other thing that hindered my read was trying to keep all the characters straight. Thankfully, many of them are true historical people so I was able to stop and look up people and events so I had a clearer picture. What made it difficult for me was that so many of the characters' had two names, for instance, sometimes George Boleyn was referred to as George but most of the time he was Lord Rochford. I would love for the book to include a quick reference guide with all the characters, titles and all that. It would make the read so much easier. There are also many plots and story lines to keep track of and it is a bit of a challenge. I am worried that when I reach the final book, I will be suffering from book amnesia and that I will struggle to reacquaint myself with everything again.
*Elizabeth was by far my favorite character. I was a bit disappointed that of all the main characters, her role was the smallest. I wished that she had a bigger part as I find her fascinating. I am hoping she will be in the picture more next time out.
*Finally, the plot builds and builds toward the revelation of the traitor and murderer. Once everything seems to be uncovered and it is at the thrilling climax, the story suddenly diverts to a completely different story line involving the French. I was riveted during the final portion of the book, until things turned to the French. I was frustrated that after all the buildup, that the story veered away. It finally returns to the main conflict at the end when one of the accused drops a startling confession as to who is really behind the treachery. The book ends on a jaw dropping cliffhanger as the fate of the traitor and the health of William lie in the balance. I am now most eager to read the conclusion.

The Boleyn Deceit is an entertaining and exciting presentation of an alternate version of England's history. I liked exploring the possibility of a male Tudor heir on the throne and watching as William tries to pick up the pieces from the fall out of his father's folly. Despite the fact that this isn't an actual historical account, it is well researched and it does try and maintain as much historical accuracy as possible. If you are a fan of historical fiction and if you like all the treachery, deceit and terror during the Tudor era, treat yourself and check this out.

Favorite Quotations:
"We all carry with us our pasts. Who we were then informs who we are now."

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Posted@Rainy Day Ramblings.

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Reading Progress

November 7, 2013 – Shelved
Started Reading
November 11, 2013 – Finished Reading

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