The story begins with Julia, youngest child of Royalists Robert and Anne Pallister, and her older brother Michael as they live in the constant fear of their estate being taken from them by Cromwell’s Parliamentarians, as England’s civil war rages around them. Michael and Robert both join Charles II’s cause and subsequent tragedies strike the family leaving Robert’s widow Anne to make a drastic choice to avoid loosing her family home forever to a Cromwell supporter. As Julia matures, the story follows her life and marriage as Charles II returns to rule England and on through the plague and great fire of London.
Unfortunately, what should have been a ripping good story just falls a bit flat to this reader. The author spends way too much time on Julia’s childhood experiences, I would have preferred to have the background told in flashbacks and have the story start off as Julia reaches maturity (note to self – never ever complain about an author’s backtracking to past history after getting the story going), we didn’t see Julia wed and in London as Charles is crowned King until well after the first half of the book. I also would have preferred to have Julia and Adam more involved in Charles’ court and its intrigues instead of being side line players in the action. Lastly, as much as I enjoy an author setting the scene and describing the clothes, furnishings, etc. so that I have a good sense of time and place, Laker goes way over the top describing everything in too minute of a detail and I found myself skimming quite a bit through those lengthy descriptions.
All in all, a pleasantly entertaining book to read if you are interested in the period or a fan of the author, but certainly not the best to be read in this period and most definitely doesn’t come close to the standard set by Kathleen Winsor’s awesome Forever Amber. Three stars.