I’ve always been interested in Tudor England, probably because my Dad is also fascinated by that period in history. When I was younger I tried (and failed!) to read some of the history books he had on the subject, and instead moved on to historical fiction. This period/setting is still one of my favorites to read, and this book didn’t disappoint.
The plot was fairly predictable (lady-in-waiting and courtier fall in love, but OHNO there are several obstacles on their path to wedded bliss!), so I won’t go over it in detail. After the last romantic novel I read, it was refreshing to have a somewhat strong female character, and a male character who (while he had some serious flaws and does some seriously shitty things) was not a total jerk. There were some awesome power-plays, intrigue, etc. The reason this book gets a 3 and not a 4, though, is that we find out pretty much all of the characters’ secrets long before the end of the book. This was kind of a bummer, as I like a good twist near the end.
This might be due to the fact that I haven’t read a lot of historical fiction recently, but I was really thrown off by the serious problem that the main female character’s non-viriginity seemed to pose. I know being found to not be a virgin could have serious consequences, but couldn’t she just stuff a bloody rag up there or otherwise fake it on her wedding night (I seem to recall such measures being taken by other heroines in similar situations)? She seemed paranoid at all times that she was going to be found out.
Best of all, I got my Lizzy One fix, and she was “beautiful and terrible as the Morn! Treacherous as the Seas! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth! All shall love [her] and despair!” (at least, that Galadriel quote came to mind as I was reading). I really appreciated this as, Elizabeth can come off as really fickle and irritating in the wrong hands.