today I have two historical novels for you. Enjoy!
What if Anne Boleyn had given birth to a healthy boy who grew up to rule England? Laura Anderson tried to answer that question in her Boleyn trilogy. The Boleyn Reckoning is the last book, which makes it hard to review it without revealing too much or spoiling the end. But I'll try.
In the first two books, we've encountered a traitor who is still at large, two of the king's best friends who betrayed him by marrying secretly without his consent, and a king that puts his own desires before the welfare of his country. Now the situation has reached a critical point. Both the threats of civil war and foreign invasion are looming. Wary of what her brother may do, Elizabeth, assembles a shadow court at Hatfield. Her loyalties are split between her brother and her country. Eventually, she'll have to choose between them.
The Boleyn Reckoning has all the ingredients of a great story: love, hate, drama, betrayal, plots, executions, secrets, and passion. Twists and turns abound. There is never a dull moment in the story, and everything that happens is plausible. You really believe that, if Anne had had a son, things would have happened just as Andersen imagined them. That's how well-researched the book is. Andersen doesn't just follow her fervent imagination, but really understands the world the Tudors lived in and the people who inhabited it. It was interesting to see which events, according to her, would have happened anyway, and what, instead, would be different.
The writing is beautiful. The Tudor world is masterfully described and you can see it rising just before your eyes as you read. The characters are interesting and well-rounded. I came to love them all, laugh with them, and cry with them. I even warmed to William, who takes a bit too much after his father!
If you love Tudor history, what ifs scenarios, or just a good story, you must read this trilogy.
Available at: amazon
I rarely read romances these days, but this one features one of my favourite historical figures (and one who rarely makes an appearance in novels), the Austrian empress Sisi, so of course, I had to pick it up. Luckily, it didn't disappointed. Charlotte Baird is a young heiress with a passion for photography. Lots of suitors are competing for her hand, but she falls for the dashing Captain Middleton, a ladies' man strapped for cash. He's also a great rider, a skill which gains him a post in Sisi's entourage. The Austrian empress has come to England to enjoy the hunting season and Middleton is chosen to act as her pilot. The empress too can't resist the Captain's charms either, and he's in thrall to her too. Thus, the three of them become entangled in a complicated love triangle.
The Fortune Hunter shares the limitations of most romance novels, that is a predictable ending and one-dimensional characters. Even the protagonists remain somewhat enigmatic. Yet, they are all charming. The dialogues between them are witty and entertaining, and in the end, you just can't help but care for them, which makes this quite a bittersweet reading. The pace is not consistent. At times it is fast, at other slow, and it feels like nothing is happening for a while. That's because life then moved at a much slower pace than it does now, but the beautiful descriptions and the character's banter never allow you to feel bored. Unless you love bodice-ripping romances. There's nothing of that here. This is a charming and delicate story about a love triangle and a man who has to choose between reality and fantasy.
Of course, there are several inaccuracies in the book. I would have preferred if Goodwin had explained when and why she diverted from history in an appendix, but then this is a work of fiction, and creative licence is acceptable. If you're familiar with Sisi's story and are stickler for details, this may dampen your enthusiasm for the book, but I appreciated that, despite the inaccuracies, Goodwin has brought a sense of realism and authenticity to the story, giving us a glimpse of the 19th century English world the characters moved in.
Despite its faults, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it to everyone who loves a good old romance.
Available at: amazon
Do you like what-ifs novels and historical romances? Are you going to read these?
Disclaimer: I received these books in exchange for my honest opinion. In addition, this post contains affiliate links.