Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Released: March 18, 2014
Source: HFVBT & Publisher
Mistress Mary Shelton is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite ward, enjoying every privilege the position affords. The queen loves Mary like a daughter, and, like any good mother, she wants her to make a powerful match. The most likely prospect: Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. But while Oxford seems to be everything the queen admires: clever, polished and wealthy, Mary knows him to be lecherous, cruel, and full of treachery. No matter how hard the queen tries to push her into his arms, Mary refuses.
Instead, Mary falls in love with a man who is completely unsuitable. Sir John Skydemore is a minor knight with little money, a widower with five children. Worst of all, he’s a Catholic at a time when Catholic plots against Elizabeth are rampant. The queen forbids Mary to wed the man she loves. When the young woman, who is the queen’s own flesh and blood, defies her, the couple finds their very lives in danger as Elizabeth’s wrath knows no bounds.
Two words: BLOWN AWAY! First of all, I absolutely love the book cover. It is the perfect illustration of Mary and Queen Elizabeth’s relationship: Mary was often in her shadow, as she should be, however the heart always has another direction it wants to go!
Before I started the story, the author writes a little bit of a prologue. I am in awe of Anne’s courage, fighting spirit as she battled cancer, and that she was able to write this book in the midst of her own struggle. Also, she is a descendent from Queen Elizabeth’s lineage, which makes this story even more fascinating for the readers, as I am sure it was for her when she researched the people in her book.
While I have read a lot of historical fiction novels about Queen Elizabeth I, and even saw the movies, this book sheds light on another side to the Queen. In this book, readers will see a vulnerability that other books may not show. While she is Queen of England and being courted by suitors, she manages to make time for her beloved Mary. Queen Elizabeth also experiences the heartache of loving her “Sweet Robin”, Robert Dudley, who she can never marry. Robin is also like a father or dear uncle to Mary, who she looks to for guidance and favor with the Queen during a moment most needed.
Mary is a young woman, who is quite similar to Queen Elizabeth. Unlike the other maidens, she maintains her “virtue” with the other courtiers and does believe in love, rather than fortune. She has an opportunity to marry for fortune, but chooses not to marry the Earl of Oxford, which Queen Elizabeth supports.
Throughout the story, readers see what court is like, how Queen Elizabeth handles issues with other countries, Catholics vs. Protestants, as well as the Queen Mary of Scots and the Duke of Norfolk. It was quite interesting to see how Queen Elizabeth handled all these pressures, dealt with the people in her court, and maintain the relationships she had with her maidens.
Mary has her own challenges of falling in love with a Catholic widowed father of 5 and pleasing the Queen. I was stunned…just stunned with the way the events unfolded at the end and saddened by Mary’s relationship with Sir John and how their story ends.
This is an incredible book, one that many will love! If you love historical fiction, Tudor history, interested in another aspect of Queen Elizabeth’s history, young love, and just want a great read-then this book is it! Anne does a remarkable job with keeping the book focused more on the characters and their struggles, rather than just get bogged down with historical facts. It’s a beautiful story and one that is now an absolute favorite of mine!
*A huge thanks to HFVBT for allowing me the opportunity to join this tour!
Anne Clinard Barnhill has been writing or dreaming of writing for most of her life. For the past twenty years, she has published articles, book and theater reviews, poetry, and short stories. Her first book, AT HOME IN THE LAND OF OZ, recalls what it was like growing up with an autistic sister. Her work has won various awards and grants. Barnhill holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Besides writing, Barnhill also enjoys teaching, conducting writing workshops, and facilitating seminars to enhance creativity. She loves spending time with her three grown sons and their families. For fun, she and her husband of thirty years, Frank, take long walks and play bridge. In rare moments, they dance.
Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Thursday, March 13
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Friday, March 14
Review at The Lit Bitch
Monday, March 17
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, March 18
Spotlight & Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, March 19
Review at One Book at a Time
Thursday, March 20
Review at Book-alicious Mama
Friday, March 21
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Monday, March 24
Review at She is Too Fond of Books
Tuesday, March 25
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, March 26
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Thursday, March 27
Review at Book of Secrets
Friday, March 28
Review at Scandalous Women
Tuesday, April 1
Interview at HF Book Muse – News
Thursday, April 3
Review at Books in the Burbs
Monday, April 7
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Tuesday, April 8
Review at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, April 9
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, April 10
Review at The Most Happy Reader