Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mandy Reviews: Reluctant Queen by Geraldine Evans

File Size: 606 KB

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Mary, the beautiful, younger sister of English king, Henry VIII, reluctantly agrees to marry the aged and sickly Louis XII of France for reasons of state. But before agreeing, she extracts Henry's promise that she may please herself for her second marriage. Mary is deeply in love with the low-born Charles Brandon, her brother's boon companion, and is determined to wed Brandon should King Louis die.

Unhappy at the French court, blonde Mary makes friends with the charming, but debauched, Francis, her aged husband's heir and son-in-law. But Mary is dismayed when her friendly overtures are taken as encouragement for something more than friendship. Too late, Mary finds that, even at twenty, Francis is a practised seducer. He pursues her relentlessly. And with the death of her husband and Francis's elevation to the French throne and absolute power, her situation becomes desperate. Unprotected, Mary is a captive prey to Francis's lust for her.

Will she ever be free to go to her lost love? Because since Louis's death, Mary has become increasingly anxious about the rumours she hears concerning her brother's plans for her future. Did Henry intend to push her into another loveless marriage to suit himself and the State?

King Henry sends Charles Brandon to the French court on a diplomatic mission. Desperate, Mary persuades him to go through a secret marriage with her. Then they confess to Wolsey and ask him to intercede with King Henry.

Fearfully, they await King Henry's reaction, aware that no one, not even his much-loved younger sister, defies him with impunity.

Mandy's Review:

Fictional books set in a historical period are some of my favorites, especially when you're not sure if what you're reading is factual or fictional. It allows your imagination to get lost in the story effortlessly.

This book focused on Mary, Henry VIII's youngest sister, and her life from her first marriage to her death. It also included Henry's infatuation with Anne Boleyn, which I thought was an interesting addition.

From Mary's younger days until years after her second marriage, she is an impetuous and selfish person. I cannot stand women who manipulate men with tears and a twist of words. That's exactly how Mary was. Then, only after she got what she wanted, did she realize how her actions may affect others. Her selfishness did not endear me to her at all.

Her marriage to Louis XII was brief due to his advanced age. During her marriage, Louis' womanizing son-in-law was determined to woo Mary and have his way with her. Fortunately, Mary never gave in, even after Louis' death when Francis offered to make her Queen again. Instead, she coerced Charles to secretly marry her. After their marriage night was over, reality set in on the newlywed couple and fear for Charles' life was the main concern.

Over time, Charles' life was secured and life proceeded on as usual. Debt and Charles' ambition to ascend at the English courts quickly put a strain on their marriage. Charles spent the majority of his time at Henry's side trying to curry favor while Mary remained at their country home. Over time, Charles' love for Mary seems to wane while Mary stays steadfastly in love with Charles.

Aside from Mary's selfishness, I enjoyed reading the progression of her life. It was historically entertaining and informative. I would recommend this novel to all of you who are fans of historical or period fiction.

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