5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous tale of one woman who served all six queens of Henry VIII

Wow, historical romance doesn’t get much better than this. This is the story of the fictional Kathryn Chase descended from Edward IV via the wrong side of the blanket and also related to the Howards, who from a very young girl starts serving Catherine of Aragon, and eventually serving as lady in waiting to all of Henry’s queens, thus giving us a wondrous glimpse into the lives of those famous and ill fated queens. Unhappy in her first marriage, Kathryn is attracted to the mysterious, flamboyant and oh so hunky John de Gael of Windsgeat, a duchy with a mysterious heritage and independent of the English Crown. John’s family not only adheres to the ancient religions of the forest, there is also a deep dark secret of his family that he keeps from everyone, even his beloved Kathryn.

Throughout, Kathryn is as stubborn and passionate as only a Howard and Plantagenet can be, and we get a fascinating glimpse at the Tudor court and the lives of Henry’s queens, and the perpetual ups and downs of surviving court with one’s head intact. One thing that sets this book heads and tails above most of the rest of this genre is the up and down relationship between Kathryn and John. Things separated them; they fell in and out of love, married others and loved others until they were reunited in their later years to try to make a working relationship amidst the continuing intrigue and treachery of Henry’s court.

All in all, a pretty perfect read. One of my favorite parts was the telling of the reign of Anne of Cleves, there were some seriously laugh out loud moments in those chapters, along with the final 100 or so pages as Catherine Howard fell from grace and Henry married Catherine Parr that were just unputdownable. According to the author’s notes at the end of this book there were to be more Windsgeat novels forthcoming, but as far as I can see there isn’t anything else published by this author under the name Anne Merton Abbey. I for one, would like to see more of this story as Edward assumes the throne, followed by Mary and Elizabeth.

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