Tag Archives: England

The Kingmaker’s Daughter (The Cousins’ War #4) by Philippa Gregory

The Kingmaker's Daughter (The Cousins' War #4)

The Kingmaker’s Daughter (The Cousins’ War #4)

Hardcover, 417 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Touchstone (first published August 1st 2012)
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Spies, poison, and curses surround her…

Is there anyone she can trust? 

The Kingmaker’s Daughter is the gripping story of the daughters of the man known as the “Kingmaker,” Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick: the most powerful magnate in fifteenth-century England. Without a son and heir, he uses his daughters, Anne and Isabel as pawns in his political games, and they grow up to be influential players in their own right. In this novel, her first sister story since The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory explores the lives of two fascinating young women.

At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Married at age fourteen, she is soon left widowed and fatherless, her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Anne manages her own escape by marrying Richard, Duke of Gloucester, but her choice will set her on a collision course with the overwhelming power of the royal family and will cost the lives of those she loves most in the world, including her precious only son, Prince Edward. Ultimately, the kingmaker’s daughter will achieve her father’s greatest ambition.

There is something about Philippa Gregory’s writing that is enthralling. This story was told from Anne Neville’s point of view and I found it fascinating, especially since the last book I’d read by this author was The Lady of the Rivers. I love it when a series takes on different perspectives so you get a more well-rounded view of all sides.

I felt sorry for the Neville girls. How awful to be used for gain and raised to marry and solely to increase one’s wealth. I think the author did a great job at making the girls female versions of their father. He thought he was doing the right thing, but switching sides is not the best way to achieve an end. There were so many needless deaths over the throne and to protect one’s right to reign that it was appalling. I can’t imagine living in constant fear like that.

Anne’s mother was perfectly hateful, too. She did not act like she cared for her daughters at all, but merely had her own interests at heart. I felt especially bad for Isabel when she was pregnant the first time. I found the doubt that her mother put in Anne’s head about her husband quite sad, and then when things got convoluted in his relationship with his niece, well, let’s just say ick to that. I pitied Anne because she felt the desire to give up at such a young age. But after so many needless losses on so many fronts, I don’t blame her for wanting to go to sleep and never wake again.

I found the whole belief regarding the Woodville’s controlling men through witchcraft quite fascinating, but I can see where things that cannot be explained would be concluded that way. There were a lot of needless deaths over this as well. So much treachery and loss. Anyway, I love this series because it makes me think and the most profound conclusion of all was that the very thing Anne wanted most of her life seemed hollow in the end without love. Isn’t that the truth? Great story. I read it quickly and it’s over 400 pages long. That’s a great novel!!

-Cassandra @ SoManyBooksSoLittleTime



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The Lady of the Rivers (The Cousins’ War #3) by Philippa Gregory

The Lady of the Rivers (The Cousins' War, #3)

The Lady of the Rivers (The Cousins’ War #3)

Hardcover, 502 pages
Published September 15th 2011 by Simon & Schuster Ltd
Rating:4/5 Stars
#1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory weaves witchcraft, passion, and adventure into the story of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, a woman who navigated a treacherous path through the battle lines in the War of the Roses.Descended from Melusina, the river goddess, Jacquetta has always had the gift of second sight. As a child visiting her uncle, she meets his prisoner, Joan of Arc, and recognizes her own power in the young woman accused of witchcraft. They share the mystery of the tarot card of the “wheel of fortune” before Joan is taken to a horrific death at the hands of the English rulers of France. Jacquetta understands the danger for a woman who dares to dream.Married to the Duke of Bedford, English Regent of France, Jacquetta is introduced by him to a mysterious world of learning and alchemy. Her only friend in the great household is the Duke’s squire Richard Woodville, who is at her side when the Duke’s death leaves her a wealthy young widow. The two become lovers and marry in secret, returning to England to serve at the court of the young King Henry VI, where Jacquetta becomes a close and loyal friend to his new queen.

Drawing on years of research, Philippa Gregory tells the story of the Woodvilles who achieve a place at the very heart of the Lancaster court, though Jacquetta can sense the threat from the people of England and the danger of royal rivals. Not even their courage and loyalty can keep the House of Lancaster on the throne. Henry the king slides into a mysterious sleep; Margaret the queen turns to untrustworthy favorites for help; and Richard, Duke of York threatens to overturn the whole kingdom for his rival dynasty of the House of York.

Jacquetta fights for her King, her Queen, and for her daughter Elizabeth Woodville, a young woman married to a neighbor for whom Jacquetta can sense an extraordinary and unexpected future: a change of fortune, the throne of England, and the white rose of York.

A sweeping, powerful story based on history and rich in passion and legend, The Lady of the Rivers tells the story of the real-life mother to the White Queen. Philippa Gregory is writing at the height of her talent.


Philippa Gregory takes a step back farther in time with The Lady of the Rivers; after exploring the lives of the various Tudor women in a succession of novels, she now dives into the rich and complicated history of the Wars of the Roses. This was a period in the 1400s where two branches of the Plantagenet royal family struggled for power over England (and various bits of France).

The protagonist in The Lady of the Rivers is Jacquetta of Luxembourg, who is not generally a well-known historical figure. The story covers Jacquetta’s life from adolescence to middle age, and Gregory fans will realize that it ends with the beginning of Gregory’s 2009 novel The White Queen.

I’ve been critical of Gregory’s kings-and-queens novels in the past, mostly because I would like to see more pure fiction from her, but I enjoyed The Lady of the Rivers. As usual, though, I did not find the protagonist particularly interesting; I felt that she was an observer of history rather than being a participant in it. Of course, in those days a noblewoman’s role was to run the house and lands while the men fought (Jacquetta does plenty of that) and produce children (Jacquetta had sixteen). So maybe the impression of passivity that I received was due to the necessity of sticking fairly close to historical fact. The bits of white magic that all of Gregory’s heroines inevitably indulge in do not come across as exciting enough to compensate me for the lack of action.

And yet there were some definite improvements over recent novels in the series. For one thing, Jacquetta gets to travel around quite a bit, and even though she’s not in the battles I did get a better sense of being near to the action than I usually do. And the supporting cast was good; I particularly liked Margaret of Anjou, Henry VI’s queen, and I found the account of Henry VI’s mental illness compelling. There were several other memorable characters; in fact, I now understand the Wars of the Roses a whole lot better. So if you read historical fiction for the history, you’ll be satisfied.

I’m not going to say much about Gregory’s writing idiosyncracies here, since what I was reading was a galley (which had not even been edited for capitalization and paragraph layout; that surprised me). I desperately want to send her the gift of a big bag of semicolons, though. Gregory is the undisputed queen of the comma splice.

One last comment; I have been reading Gregory for years, and am fascinated to note that the novels are getting less sensual as time goes on. This one was PG-rated.

Overall impression: a good Gregory, and recommended for lovers of English history.

-Cassandra @ SoManyBooksSoLittleTime

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The Red Queen (The Cousins’ War #2) by Philippa Gregory

The Red Queen (The Cousins' War, #2)
The Red Queen (The Cousins’ War #2)
by Philippa Gregory
Hardcover, 382 pages
Published August 3rd 2010 by Touchstone
Rating: 4/5 Stars
The second book in Philippa’s stunning new trilogy, The Cousins War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series – The White Queen – but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses. The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England. Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth’s daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty.
Two royal houses, each thinking that they are the rightful heir to the throne can only mean one thing: War. The Red Queen is the second novel in the Cousins’ War series (the first being The White Queen) and it tells the story of Margaret Beaufort, heiress to the red rose of the House of Lancaster. Forced into marriage at the age of 12 and a mother and a widow by age 13, Margaret is determined to take her destiny into her own hands and to place her son on the throne of England, as it is God’s will. This is the story of the woman who united the House of Lancaster and the House of York and who founded the Tudor dynasty in England.

Not one of Gregory’s best novels but I still really enjoyed it. Didn’t really like Margaret Beaufort, but I get the impression that not too many people really liked her in real life either based on the views of the other characters. Once again, Gregory was able to bring the characters to life with her gripping battle scenes and amazing details. Even though this is a part of a series, it can stand on its own as well. I would recommend this novel to fans of Philippa Gregory and to those who are interested in reading about a powerful woman who has been largely ignored in the genre of Historical Fiction.

-Cassandra @ SoManyBooksSoLittleTime



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The White Queen (The Cousins’ War #1) by Philippa Gregory

The White Queen (The Cousins' War, #1)

The White Queen (The Cousins’ War #1)

Hardcover, 408 pages
Published August 18th 2009 by Touchstone (first published 2009)
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Philippa Gregory presents the first of a new series set amid the deadly feuds of England known as the Wars of the Roses.Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.With The White Queen, Philippa Gregory brings the artistry and intellect of a master writer and storyteller to a new era in history and begins what is sure to be another bestselling classic series from this beloved author.
Review:After showcasing as many Tudor royals as any one reader can comfortably stomach, Philippa Gregory strives to show us another English Royal family as equally interesting. The White Queen launches her War of the Roses trilogy, and focuses on Elizabeth Woodville. Gregory’s Woodville falls instantly in love with the King, and she ascends the throne at a dangerous time of civil war. An incredibly cut throat period in which each claimant to the throne has a much right as the next, and the alliances of the Great Families of England are always shifting. We soon learn that no one, especially your own family can be trusted in noble England. Elizabeth and Edward’s union makes instant enemies, and the entirety of their marriage will be spent on defending the throne.

In my opinion, while this novel is good, it is not as good as either Boleyn book chiefly because I felt that I understood those characters. In The White Queen, Elizabeth is painted as complacent and dutiful wife during the first half of the novel, and ambitious shrew during the second. Towards the end it becomes a Woodville on the throne at any cost which may have been historically accurate, but it didn’t fit with Elizabeth’s established persona up until then. Elizabeth also believes she is the descendent from a water goddess from a fairy tale which Gregory interrupts literally, and that tale is interspersed with Elizabeth’s tale although they don’t quite connect. The tenses also shift from Elizabeth’s first person to assumedly Elizabeth’s first person describing battle details as they happen which doesn’t make sense and is jarring.

However, the book is still one of Gregory’s best. As always the story is instantly gripping. You are immediately immersed in the Woodville family, and their struggles to advance their family while ensuring security for Edward’s reign. Gregory does a great job of fleshing out a family that has been villanized by history, and presenting their side of the story. And even those who know the inevitable outcome will be surprised by Gregory’s take. Gregory doesn’t attempt to pander for sympathy to Elizabeth’s plight and instead gives us as even a portrayal of Elizabeth as the historical records afford. And Elizabeth’s relationship to her own daughter (also Elizabeth) is easily my favorite element of the novel, this relationship is almost portrayed as Elizabeth wrestling with her own conscience which is not only brilliant but expertly builds interest for the next two books in the series.

-Cassandra @ SoManyBooksSoLittleTime

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A Duke’s Promise: A Forgotten Castles Novel (Forgotten Castles #3) by Jamie Carie

A Duke's Promise: A Forgotten Castles Novel

A Duke’s Promise: A Forgotten Castles Novel (Forgotten Castles #3)

Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 2012 by B&H Books
Rating:4/5 Stars
A Duke's Promise: A Forgotten Castles Novel


Award-winning writer Jamie Caries concludes her most epic storyline with a wonderful twist in A Duke’s Promise , the final Forgotten Castles novel.From the Land of Fire and Ice back to England’s shores, Alexandria Featherstone finds herself the new Duchess of St. Easton. Her husband has promised a wedding trip to take them to the place where her imperiled parents were last seen — Italy and the marble caves of Carrara — but a powerful Italian duke plots against Alex and her treasure-hunting parents.Hoping to save them, Alex and Gabriel travel to Italy by balloon. Fraught with danger on all sides and pressured by Gabriel’s affliction to the breaking point, they must learn to work and fight together. The mysterious key is within their grasp, but they have yet to recognize it. This journey will require steadfast faith in God and each other — a risk that will win them everything they want or lose them everything they have.



***This copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***
Book three starts off right where book two leaves off. Alex and Gabriel’s wedding. We start with the wedding night and Alex’s deep secret comes to light and threatens to ruin the very new marriage. Once that issue is dealt with they head off on their honeymoon to Paris and then on to Italy to hopefully find Alex’s parents. Of course they are met with danger along the way. Once they get to Italy they find out that they are in more danger then they realize and must work together and against the clock to save her parents and themselves. 

This book wraps up the story of Gabriel and Alex. I enjoyed it over all and was a little sad to see the adventure end but happy with the ending.
They had their flaws and yet they were so cute together. I loved watching them interact with one another and I loved their determination to save Alexandria’s parents.

The story was never boring and had me turning the pages until the end. I loved everything about this book, but it lacked that extra something to make this one of my favorites. However, having said that, don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly adored this novel. Carrie has a unique writing style that is incredible. Definitely recommend to fans of Christian fiction and historical fiction or to fans who love daring characters who aren’t afraid to set out on amusing adventures.

-Ana @SoManyBooksSoLittleTime




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The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark #1) by Shana Abé

The Sweetest Dark

The Sweetest Dark (The Sweetest Dark #1)

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: April 2nd 2013 by Bantam
Rating: 5/5 Stars!
The Sweetest Dark
For fans of Lauren Kate and Libba Bray, The Sweetest Dark is filled with thrilling romance, exciting adventure, and ancient magic. Shana Abé brilliantly captures the drama of post-Victorian England, while unfolding a passionate love story that defies time.
“With every fiber of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson without incident. But I’d have to face the fact that my life was about to unfold in a very, very different way than I’d ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach.” 
Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.

Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.

Filled with lush atmosphere, thrilling romance, and ancient magic, The Sweetest Dark brilliantly captures a rich historical era while unfolding an enchanting love story that defies time.

“A wonderfully refreshing story of self-discovery, love, courage—and dragons . . . I was enchanted.”—Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Lovely



***This copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***


I absolutely loved this book! I haven’t read a book like this one in a long time and it is defiantly one of my favorite books so far!

The Sweetest Dark is true to its title. From the moment I began reading this novel, it became one of my sweetest, dark reads, and I could not put it down. Shana Abe stole my heart with this storyline and the dark characters, and I hope there’s going to be a second book as there was an opening left for a sequel, though The Sweetest Dark could be a standalone as well. This is my first time reading one of Shana Abe’s novel, but it’s definitely not my last. Abe is an awesome writer and her characters have a beautiful, strong personality. Lora (Eleanor) Jones is a fantastic heroine. She’s strong-willed, kick-ass, tough, and her way of thinking is a little on the sadistic side. I love Lora’s attitude, she not a whiner and she can take care of her own problems. You don’t want to mess with girls like her and by that I mean that she’s been raised in a pretty bad orphanage and spent time in an asylum. Yep, I love Eleanor Jones. She’s my kind of girl! Then there’s the two gorgeous guys, Jesse and Armand. Jesse is the golden boy/sweetheart, and Armand is the aristocrat, deep dark alpha. Shana Abe has done what I love to see in novels (Lora gets both guys) I’ll just give you that hint and leave the rest for you to read and see what I mean (no spoilers).

Lora is sixteen in the year 1915, and she has just spent the last six years in the Blisshaven Foundling Home for orphans, but now Lora’s luck is about to change. Because of the Germans’ air raids on London, the government is evacuating all the children out of London, so Lora is given charity endowment from the Duke of Idylling to attend the privileged boarding school of The Iverson School for Girls. It doesn’t take Lora long to realize there’s not any difference between a poor orphanage and a rich boarding school. When it comes to bad girl bitches, they’re all the same, but these spoiled little rich girls will learn that Lora is the queen of bad, and she has spent the last six years in hell—she has no intentions of going back there again.

Jesse is eighteen and the groundskeeper at the Iverson’s girl school. But that’s only what you see from the outside. Jesse is going to become the shiny, gold star in Lora’s life, and Lora will be the beloved of Jesse’s. A Love like Jesse and Lora’s will have sacrifices, and the nights they shared in the sweetest dark is the gift of love in their dreams. Jesse made my heart swoon and then it broke for him. But where there’s a fallen star, there’s also a dark, arrogant jerk to put it back together. Armand is the seventeen year old duke of Idylling. He has a dark side, but he too has a secret, and it’s one only he can share with Lora. Jesse will have to sacrifice everything for Lora and Armand’s secret so that Lora—his beloved—will be who she’s meant to be…even if it’s means she will be loved by another…

The Sweetest Dark is wonderously rich, dark, enchanting love story that will leave readers hearts aching in the aftermath. Written much in a style reminicent of Grimm fairytales, it is filled with gorgeous beguiling essence that will resonate with readers in a truly emotional fashion leaving them pining and gasping for more. It’s definitely a MUST READ of the year!


-Ana @SoManyBooksSoLittleTime


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About Last Night by Ruthie Knox

About Last Night

About Last Night

ebook, 230 pages
Published June 11th 2012 by Random House Publishing Group
Sure, opposites attract, but in this sexy, smart, eBook original romance from Ruthie Knox, they positively combust! When a buttoned-up banker falls for a bad girl, “about last night” is just the beginning.
Cath Talarico knows a mistake when she makes it, and God knows she’s made her share. So many, in fact, that this Chicago girl knows London is her last, best shot at starting over. But bad habits are hard to break, and soon Cath finds herself back where she has vowed never to go . . . in the bed of a man who is all kinds of wrong: too rich, too classy, too uptight for a free-spirited troublemaker like her.
Nev Chamberlain feels trapped and miserable in his family’s banking empire. But beneath his pinstripes is an artist and bohemian struggling to break free and lose control. Mary Catherine—even her name turns him on—with her tattoos, her secrets, and her gamine, sex-starved body, unleashes all kinds of fantasies.
When blue blood mixes with bad blood, can a couple that is definitely wrong for each other ever be perfectly right? And with a little luck and a lot of love, can they make last night last a lifetime?
Includes a special message from the editor, as well as excerpts from these Loveswept titles: Because of You, Ride with Me,and Midnight Hour.


**ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

WOW! This book was amaaazzzzzingggg!!!!!!!! I don’t even know where to begin with this book!! My heart is still racing, this story was smoking HOT!!!  I couldn’t put it down!

I immediately felt connected to these two characters in the story. I actually really loved the characters, the way the story flowed, and pretty much everything about this book! I can honestly say that I’ve read enough romance novels to know when I’ve found one that really stands out above the rest, and About Last Night does just that!!!

Cath is an interesting and free-spirited woman who has tried for two years to live her life as a new person or as she calls herself “New Cath.” She has made mistakes in her past that she is trying to learn from and not make the same mistakes again. In order for her to not forget who she once was, she has tabooed her biggest mistakes on her body. I love how these tattoos play out as a big part of the story. She has moved to England, found a job that she wants to make into a career and is living a simple life until she meets Nev. Her new mistake.

Nev (Neveille/City) ……SWOON! He is sexy and smart and has an adorable dimple. He and Cath couldn’t be any more opposite. Cath is from Chicago and has had a hard life while Nev was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. However, Nev is not without his own problems and secrets. He lives his life as expected by his family. A respected, well-dressed, well-mannered banker. He is afraid to walk away from his priorities to his family while dreaming of being a free-spirited artist.

About Last Night was perfect from start to finish. Once you start reading it, you will not be able to put it down. Nev is one of the best heroes. The writing is so well done. The plot is engaging. There’s humor and super hot sexy times. The dialog is AMAAAZZZZING! It’s emotional and sweet. It has everything you could want in a romance.

About Last Night is one of my favorite books of this year so far. I can’t recommend this book enough. It has everything you want and more in a romance. About Last Night is a book that you won’t forget.

-Ana @SoManyBooksSoLittleTime


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