I’m beginning to see a pattern developing in the latest offerings in historical fiction similar to what I’m accustomed to in romances – you have the solid gritty novels with real historical detail and then there are the wall-paper variety and IMHO this book falls into the latter category. Secrets is the story of Mary Howard, daughter of the powerful Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Howard, and wife to Henry VIII’s illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy. As a young girl Mary is packed off to serve future Queen Anne Boleyn, and we see the story of Henry’s court and his queens through Mary’s point of view. *Yawn*
I think by now all Tudorphiles know the basics of Henry and his six wives and I’m not going to drag it out for one more recap. An interesting concept using an historical character of which little is known to tell the same old story, but unfortunately I found this one is a tad bit underwhelming. Norfolk is as bad as bad can be, from beating on his wife and daughter to scheming to get any and all Howard women married to Henry, to his somewhat questionable method of getting Kitty Howard to produce an heir for Henry. As for Mary, she is so darn sweet and Mary-Sueish (pun not intended) that you’ll feel like fingernails are grating on the chalkboard anytime she opens her mouth – which considering this is first person narrative that would be on every page.
In the end, this book brings absolutely nothing new to the Tudor story, and I’d only recommend it for Tudor junkies who must read every book ever written on the Tudors. Without an author’s note to back up her facts I have no idea whether or not Thomas Howard beat his wife and daughter, but if you have been a victim of domestic violence you might want to pass on this one as the scenes are quite disturbing and in more detail than was truly necessary. Get it from the library if you must and then buy it if you love it.
Lastly, a note to the publisher. If you ever do a second printing, please fix this will you?
“He holds the reigns with one slim-fingered hand…”
I could be mistaken but I believe Kings reign and a horse is lead with a rein. 2/5 stars and not recommended. FTC: if you really must know I got it from the library.