Monday, November 02, 2009

Book Review: SECRETS OF THE TUDOR COURT BETWEEN TWO QUEENS by Kate Emerson

Kate Emerson's "Between Two Queens" is due to hit book stores January 1st 2010. Many of you are probably wondering how I managed to get my hands on this tasty treat. I was lucky enough to be one of the few book reviewers who got an advanced readers copy. I did my first author interview with the lovely Kate Emerson on "Pleasure Palace" not too long ago. Which just made me love her even more. Kate was gracious enough to bring me into her circle on the release of "Between Two Queens". Thank you Kate for everything it has been a pleasure!

"Pleasure Palace" was the first installment of this delightful series Secrets of The Tudor Court. When I first picked it up I was just starting to become obsessed with historical fiction. Of all the places to find books Target was never top on my list. Many of you might not know this but Target actually has a historical fiction section, which no other book store I have ever been in has. That is how I discovered Kate Emerson and it helped that I am a sucker for a beautiful cover. At that time there was no blog in my life and I later found out it was to be a series. It was fate that I was drawn to Kate's novels.

"Between To Queen" had me pondering from the beginning, what two queens, and what is between them? My first thought was Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. That bitter rivalry has been a focal point of many historical fiction novels. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the first queen was Jane Seymour and later her predecessors, Anna of Cleves, and both Catherine's. Living up to my high expectations that I developed from "Pleasure Palace", Kate once again pick a view point that I had never even considered. The lady in waiting Anne Bassett aka Nan.

Zealously ambitious Nan Bassett was the daughter of Sir Thomas Bassett and Honor Grenville. When Sir John passed away Honor later remarried Arthur Plantagenet, Viscount Lisle and deputy of Calais. Honor herself was a renowned beauty in her prime, considering she was one of Anne Boleyn's beautiful ladies. It was only natural that Nan would be like her mother and become a beautiful lady herself. Pretty enough to draw King Henry VIII attention.
"She Thought of Love as a Game, but Catching the eye of King Henry VIII could be Deadly Serious"
In the beginning she is embarks by ship with her sister Catherine aka Cat from Calais to hopefully become a lady in waiting to the pregnant Queen Jane. On the ship her stepfather sent his man to watch over the girls and make sure they made a safe arrival, Ned. Upon the sisters safe arrival to court they were to be examined by the queen Jane, sadly the queen would only pick one girl to become part of the ladies in waiting. Nan and her sister waited on bended knee for the queens approval but it was a long time coming until Nan though she saw a man lurking behind the queen's screen, watching. It was a game to the royals to see who would crack first and Nan was not going to give in she wanted it so bad she could taste it. When Henry vamped out from behind the queen Nan was memorized to the point that she could not pry her eyes from the king, which he enjoyed.

Queen Jane defiantly did not like it but she had no choice in the matter Henry had already made up his mind on the prettier sister Nan. Selecting the prettier of the sister would cause a rift between them for some time. To be mean Cat squashed Nan's idea's of the glitz and glamor of court when the realization that Queen Jane was about to go into seclusion to give birth to the future heir to the throne. Nan was not happy about it and as the time passed on Jane took her frustrations out on Nan. The only reason being that the king chose her because she was a pretty girl.

After finally seeing the light of day away from the dark dungeon they called a birthing chamber, something caught Nan's attention. it could be none other than the handsome man that had brought her there, Ned. There was something about him, maybe it was the pheromone's she first smelt on him back on the ship. Nan was developing feelings for him but he was a man of no means and that was not what she signed up for. She had plainly stated her intentions of going to court to Ned on the ride over. Her goal was to snag herself a rich and titled husband. Ned was a constant support to Nan even though she continued to deny her feelings for him. He would have died if it meant to save her.

After Queen Jane's sudden passing her household was disbanded and with no queen to serve Nan was sent packing to her cousins house. While at her cousins house Nan's feelings for Ned grew stronger than what she liked. She became secretive and guarded with her feelings until she could no longer deny them. Would she be able to love Ned unconditionally or would her ambition ruin her own feelings? Divided by her long time ambitions and love for Ned she knew she had to stay on her path to find the target she was looking to hit. There are always repercussions to choices and did she make the right choices? Her heart told her she did but really was it what was best for her? Was she on target or did the target change to the biggest one of them all?

As painful as it was to read about Nan and how she was shuffled from house to house, queen to queen, the professional life of a courtier was not an easy one. Nan from the beginning was not a strong ethical woman. Her ambition over rid her ethics which opened the door to other possibilities for her like mistress to the king or maybe just a mistress. In the Tudor court there are secrets and even Nan had something to hide. Her goals for finding herself a rich husband all came crashing down on her abruptly when her family was thrown into to tower for conspiring against the king. She became the traitors daughter. Her target had changed to finding a way to save her family and most importantly someone she secretly cared for. Would all be lost family, friends and even her prospects? Could she soothe her ambition or would it get the better of her and eat her alive?

5/5 Muses, loved every word of it. The fresh prospective of Nan Bassett was really interesting. To see what it was like as a lady in waiting during Henry's rein was a really worth while read, it gave much needed insight. Plus who could pass up a juicy novel with infidelities, lies, and plotting. This a new favorite of mine now especially with Kate's fresh approach on Catherine Howard. A highly recommended read. I can not wait for the next one "By Royal Decree" which is about Bess Brooke.

12 comments:

Ash said...

Sounds like a great book! I can't wait.

Christine Trent said...

I love stories surrounding the royal court that aren't necessarily focused on "the usual suspects." Sounds like Ms. Emerson has picked a very interesting and unusual subject in Nan Bassett.

Daphne said...

Sounds really good!

dolleygurl said...

I have had the first book on my shelf for awhile, but need to read it soon. I love how she uses minor characters as the central part of her story. Awesome review!

Elizabeth said...

Great review! This sounds like a really good one! I added it and your review to The Tudor Book Blog! :)

Allie ~ Hist-Fic Chick said...

So glad this book lived up to your expectations! I know you were really looking forward to this one...I think I definitely need to hop on the Kate Emerson ban-wagon and read some of her books.

lizzy J said...

Hello all finally got the internet back up and running, it took a few days longer than expected. Router went all weird.

The thing I love about Kate Emerson in general is that she has stayed with the minor characters stand point. It gives an outsiders perspective and is kind of like wearing the shoe on the other foot. To visualize what Henry in general was more than realistically like.

"Pleasure Place" was his younger self and "Between Two Queens" was the older fatter Henry. Same Henry though out both novels, a bear. A woman eater you can say.

It completely lived up to my high expectations and I am thirsty for the next one. A little naughty but not too much so. A beautiful cover and proves what a good historical fiction read should be.

Marie Burton said...

I adored Pleasure Palace, gave it a 5 star review myself, and I hope to get to this one soon as well! I loved Emerson's writing style. Thank you for the fantastic review.

lizzy J said...

I had heard that some readers had found it fluffy but I found it far from that and throughly enjoyed it. I enjoy her style very much. Thank you Marie.

Mystica said...

I like the writing style used. Please count me in.

Arleigh said...

Interesting! I didn't know this was a series. I have the Pleasure Palace book on my shelf waiting to be read.

I noticed Target has some HF... they even had one of the new Plaidy reprints.

lizzy J said...

Kate breathes new life into it by picking a side lining player of the Tudor court. In turn it gives a completely different perspective. You would enjoy them very much I am sure of it.

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