While this is the third book published in Gregory’s “Cousin’s War” series, it is the first chronologically, and I really wished I’d read them in chronological order rather than as they were published. The Lady of the Rivers focuses on Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, whose daughter is the main character in The White Queen. As a result, I already knew how Jacquetta’s story would end, and therefore wasn’t as intrigued by the telling of her life. Obviously, these are historical characters, so a quick Wikipedia search would have revealed all the details anyway. But I think I would have been more interested in Jacquetta as a young woman if I didn’t already know her as an old lady from The White Queen.
She’s also not a very interesting character, in my opinion. She’s married off to the Duke of Bedford as a young woman due to his interest in her so-called magical powers. Gregory has incorporated magic into her “historical fiction” before, but here she just mentions it as a power Jacquetta might possess, but never really lets her use it.
After the duke dies, Jacquetta remarries for love. She spends the rest of the book, which covers the timespan at the beginning of the War of the Roses, simply following around the Queen (Margaret of Anjou) and having a baby about every 18 months. Seriously. Her husband goes to war, she goes to court, he returns, she gets pregnant, she returns home, has the baby and it all repeats again. I think there’s 14 kids total, and Gregory mentions every.single.one. But we don’t get to know any (other than a small bit about Elizabeth, who is the focus of The White Queen, so again, I already knew her story).
It’s just really repetitive and very dull in parts. The fun thing about Gregory’s novels is the gossip and backstabbing of the royals, and this book just lacks that. If you’re going to read the series, either start here as a bit of background, or skip it entirely.