Sunday, December 28, 2014

BOLEYN RECKONING by Laura Andersen

Publisher:   Ballantine
Published:   July 15, 2015
ISBN:  978-0345534132
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Format:  Ebook and Tradepaperback
Obtained via:  Publisher from NetGalley and Trade Paperback
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Despite a battle with small pox, Henry VIII’s son William is firmly in place on the throne of England.  But with the return of his health, there are changes in William.  Changes brought on not only by the external forces of France and Spain but of his own desires.  While he assured his childhood friend Minuette he would allow her to marry for love, he himself wishes to marry her. 

Minuette has gone alone with William’s plans to become his bride first because of his illness and then because of growing political unrest.  Not only do threats loom from France and Spain, the Catholics are still hopeful Mary will take the throne.  But Minuette has a secret, one that could bring down the Tudor throne, or at least the standing of she and her family and those they hold dear—she is already married to Dominic Courtenay.

Dominic like Minuette has been a lifelong friend of the Tudor siblings, William and Elizabeth.  He has stood by William’s side, offered sound advice and guidance and graciously accepted the gifts he never wanted.  All Dominic has ever longed for is for a peaceful life with Minuette. 

When William announces his plans to wed Minuette in a most dramatic manner while at the same time negotiating a marriage to King Philip of Spain to Elizabeth, the Courtenays find they must act.  Minuette seeks help from one quarter while unbeknownst to her Dominic seeks it from another.  It is a former lover of William’s who unknowingly reveals their secret marriage.  Insulted, offended, angered beyond control William takes Dominic prisoner.  Minuette pleads for Dominic and her people’s lives in the only manner she believes William will accept—but he ultimately betrays her.  Worse, they become the target of a bitter and angry man—the king they have sworn to serve.

I was attracted to Laura Andersen’s Boleyn trilogy in large part because of my own interest in Anne Boleyn’s story.  From the first time I became aware of Henry VIII’s second wife in ANNE OF THE 1000 DAYS starring Genevieve Bujold and Richard Burton—was she a temptress or a political toy?  Did she really love Henry or was she power hungry like many of her family?  The idea that Anne Boleyn would give Henry a son who would survive immediately drew my interest.  I enjoyed book 1, THE BOLEYN KING.  Anderson delivered a wonderfully told story that left me eager to pick up book 2, THE BOLEYN DECEIT.  Book 2 was a disappointment, reading more often than not like a badly done young adult with spoiled brats in the key roles.  I wasn’t all that sure if I would continue on with book 3, THE BOLEYN RECKONING.  I’m glad I picked it up.

I wasn’t so sure as the story began—it seemed to continue the young adult aspects that turned me off on book 2.  But then the author seemed to settle into her story and it took off.  The multiple levels of court intrigues kept me picking up the book as soon as I could after daily life would take me away for a time.  Andersen did a marvellous job of showing the changes and growth in Elizabeth from loving sister to determined queen.  Even though this is historical fiction and the reasons for why the real Elizabeth ruled the way she did, in this fictional, alternative time line story, the author gives her plausible cause on wonderful development. 

There were what I felt to be strong parallels to Charles Brandon storyline in the Tudors TV show and Dominic’s story.  It became quite easy to imagine Henry Cavill as her inspiration except Dominic’s eyes are green and Cavill’s are blue.  I was disturbed at William’s final act against Dominic, delivered as only William would have it delivered.  I felt it was unnecessary.  That said, as I neared the last 100 pages of the book I found I could not put it down and ended up sitting in bed until I finished the book about 4 in the morning. 

This series does need to be read in order.  As I said, I was turned off with book 2 and in retrospect if you start it and it doesn’t click for you, do go on to book 3—but do it when you can sit for hours and do nothing but enjoy a well told story.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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