The illegitimate son of King Charles II is nothing more than a treacherous rake with nothing to look forward to except war and whoring.
For James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth life doesn’t get much better than drinking, fighting, and whoring…..but after many years of meaningless sex and one too many hangovers, Monmouth knows there must be something more to life.
Sweet and innocent Lady Henrietta Wentworth has been brought up the way that every respectable girl at court should be…..virtuous.
For a woman in Tudor England virtue is the most treasured of things next to position and wealth. Without her virginity a woman’s reputation and marriage prospects are ruined.
For a woman like Henrietta who has little to offer in the way of a dowery, she can only hope to bring some position and purity to marriage, so she guards it above all else. Until she meets Monmouth.
The Duke of Monmouth first meets Henrietta when she is 14 and acting in a play for the court. He is immediately struck by her beauty and something else that he can’t quite identify.
Likewise, Henrietta herself finds him attractive but once she hears of his reputation, she vows to stay as far away from him as she can. The Duke is not easily dismissed though, after the play he writes her a few letters which she promptly ignores and burns.
After a few attempts, the Duke grows bored and moves on but yet he still can’t quite get Henrietta out of his hear. Years pass and Henrietta becomes engaged to the Earl of Thanet, Richard Tufton. It’s a good match, he brings a prestigious title and wealth to the union.
After seeing her again at court, Monmouth is completely captivated by Henrietta….he can think of nothing but her and be takes up his courtship of her with renewed vigor. Henrietta can’t help but be attracted to the Duke…..and even though she has heard the stories of his whoring and sinful behaviors….oh and he’s already married….she can’t help but still see good in him.
He is dashing and charming and she is sure she is not the first woman to fall under his spell, but she can’t help it…he is relentless in his pursuit of her….betrothal and prior marriages be damned!
Henrietta finally begs the Earl of Thanet to marry her immediately in hopes that the Duke will end his courtship, but instead of marrying her, the Earl relinquished their betrothal leaving her ripe for the picking. She can no longer deny the Duke what he has so long wanted. Even if it means she will be ruined and only his mistress…..she is willing to do whatever it takes to be with him.
What she doesn’t bargain for is the Duke’s secret political ambitions. As their love for each other grows so does Monmouth’s throne ambitions. He means to get rid of his cousin James II and make names himself the ‘legitimate king’.
Before long, Henrietta and Monmouth find themselves in treasonous territory….
This book caught my eye for a couple of reasons, but my main reason was it was about a couple that I know some about but not a lot. I enjoyed reading about the Duke and getting to know more history of both Monmouth and Lady Henrietta. Historically, this novel had promise. It wasn’t overly intellectual but it gave a basic historic background that was both pleasant and easy to understand.
But this book wasn’t a non-fiction work, it was a fictional account of their lives and love story. I would have to say, it was more of a romance novel for me than historical fiction. Yes there was history and fiction but I got more of a romance vibe than anything else.
Lady Wentworth filled the roll of cliche heroine well….innocent girl meets bad boy and turns him into a one woman man without saying more than two words to him. The only thing that saved Henrietta for me was that she actually had the guts to be his mistress and ruin all her prospects. In so many romance novels the rake and the virgin angel end up together and getting married…..so I liked that she was just like….mistress? Where do I sign up? I thought that fact alone added more to her character.
I never really wanted to like the Duke since he seemed so unlikable, but then I supposed he won me over…..there is something to be said for tenacity and in the end I too liked him in-spite of myself.
This novel was difficult for me to rate. Zuvich writes well and to the point which I liked but at times there were some out of place declarations that seemed perhaps too modern. For example, when the Duke opens the bedroom door to Henrietta’s mother and declares “I am the Duke of Monmouth and I am in love with your daughter”…..for me it just didn’t fit, it seemed too modern and just out of place.
I wasn’t sure if this book was trying to be a romance novel or a historic fiction or both and that kind of bothered me. It was a quick read and I am going to say almost too quick. It felt cramped and confined….there is a lot of history there to cover and I think the author assumes if you are reading this book you probably have a general knowledge of Tudor England, which I do but not everyone who picks up the book will. If it were longer perhaps and there was some more history ad background added, it might appeal the more readers.
I felt like the story simply went to fast and again I come back to the identity of the book….is it a romance novel or historic fiction. Most historical romance novels are quick and to the point with flimsy story lines and bland characters. In 200 pages, I didn’t feel like there was enough character development or enough plot development…if it was a romance then I would expect that but I was expecting a historic romance with a little more meat I guess…especially since it’s based on a true story.
This book has loads of potential and Zuvich is a talented writer, I just think it needs some fine tuning and maybe a little more direction to make it a solid read. Right now I would rate it as enjoyable but not a novel that will inspire a lot of discussion. If it was meant to be more of a fluffy read then I would give it an A….but if it’s meant to be more of an historic fiction work, I would say it needs some refining and a little more direction.
Be sure to check out the other stops on the book tour for guest posts and interviews with the author!
This book counts toward: 2013 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
- Hosted by: Historical Tapestry
- Books for Challenge Completed: 19/15
Recommendation: 3 out of 5
Genre: Historic fiction, Tudor lit
Memorable lines/quotes: NA
Monday, August 26
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, August 28
Review at The Happy Booker
Thursday, August 29
Guest Post at The Happy Booker
Friday, August 30
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews