Don’t let that cover fool you, this is not a romance. Not only that, but the book jacket is misleading – only the first half of the book is set during Richard III’s reign – so I’m here to set the record straight.
Although heir to her father’s estate, Joisse Radcliff is slightly crippled and deemed unmarriageable by her aunt who plans to pack her off to a nunnery and keep the manor for herself. Joisse flees in the night, but is attacked by vandals and rescued by groom Tom Thomson and taken to Middleham Castle and Richard, Duke of Gloucester. No fool, Richard sees what her aunt is up to and takes her as his ward until she reaches her majority and can claim her estate. As lady to Richard’s Duchess Anne, Joisse comes to London with the household upon Edward IV’s death and Richard’s eventual assumption to the throne itself – but her path always crosses with that of Tom and two find themselves fighting their attraction to one another as the daughter of a knight could never marry a base born servant.
Their story eventually culminates in the aftermath of the battle at Bosworth Field. Will Tom be able to save himself and return to Joisse? Even so, can she give up everything, including her beloved Radcliff to marry a mere groom? OK, so by this time I’ve hit page 200 and was expecting another what-happened-to-the-princes-in-the-Tower mystery to finish this out when the author did a 180 on me and fast forwarded to 1535. Now the story switches to Joisse’s grandson Philip as Henry VIII is King and he and Cromwell are breaking up the monasteries and plundering their wealth in the north. A gentle soul, Philip was raised to serve the church and with that no longer possible is at a crossroads in his life – and he finds himself in the thick of the North’s rebellion against Henry – the so called Pilgrimage of Grace. When his grandmother reveals his true identity as the rightful heir to Radcliff, Philip must travel to plead his case before Henry himself. There’s also a love interest and more to the story but frankly this review has gone on long enough….
While certainly not the greatest piece of historical fiction out there, it was a refreshing change from much of the current drivel releases of Tudor fiction. I didn’t spot anything glaringly out of place in the historical details (heh, she even didn’t succumb to everyone’s favorite error of making Buckingham’s wife older than he was), and it was interesting reading up on the Pilgrimage – so few novels set in this period deal with it. Despite the cheesy cover, this is most definitely not a romance and any sex is few and far between the pages and pages of historical details. As Philip was set for a life in the church, the latter half of the book has more of a religious overtone than some readers might care for. My only serious quibble was Philip’s character – granted he wasn’t even eighteen but still he was a whiny spineless ninny and I constantly wanted to slap him and shake some sense into him. Perhaps he’ll do better in the next book because there are two more and boy do I love those covers,
That second one is quite a lulu isn’t it?