Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Received from publisher for review for HFBRT September event
“Katherine Sedley is born to wealth and privilege in seventeenth-century London, and her unconventional upbringing includes a mad mother who believes that she’s the queen and a father who is one of the most notorious libertines in Restoration England. She quickly becomes a favorite at the palace for her sly wit and daring, and soon attracts the attention of the married Duke of York, His Majesty’s brother. She snubs respectable marriage to become the duke’s mistress, but when her lover becomes King James II, she is suddenly cast into a tangle of political intrigue in which a wrong step can mean treason, exile, or death on the executioner’s block. As the risks rise, Katherine is forced to make the most perilous of choices: to remain loyal to the king -- or to England”
Unlike all of Scott’s recent releases about the mistresses of Charles II, this book is about the mistress of Charles’ brother, James II. While still remaining in a world that is entirely familiar and comfortable to me, I was able to explore another side to the world that I loved. Charles is still a frequent visitor to the story without being the center of attention. There was one scene in the novel where all of the mistresses of Charles II, as well as the Katherine Sedley and I think James II, were all in one room together and it was like being in a room full of friends.
As always, Scott really impresses here, the writing is phenomenal and exceptionally bawdy. I love Katherine’s spunk, fire, and personality. She was allowed to grow up in a sort of no rules atmosphere within the edges of the court – which really makes for great story telling. As much as I have enjoyed Charles’ story in the past, I really enjoyed learning about James. He sort of had an “other brother” syndrome and was always trying to prove himself. His relationship with Katherine was so exciting and one of my favorites. But I want to emphasize that this was while he was Duke of York, once he became King of England I really couldn’t stand him anymore. As he embraced Catholicism and became less favored by the people, his relationship with Katherine changed and I just didn’t feel it so much anymore.
My favorite quote from this book, which wasn’t actually from the story, but from the author’s note, really sums up this story well. As you may already know, King James II is eventually ousted in favor of his daughter Mary and her husband William, and this was made possible in part by Katherine’s father (who said the following) – “as the king has made my daughter a countess, the least I could do, in common gratitude, is to make his daughter a queen” (pg 383).
Susan Holloway Scott hits this one out of the park yet again!
If you are interested in reading a snippet of this story before you have the chance to pick it up and read the whole thing (because you will absolutely want to!) you can read an excerpt at her website.
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Also today, as part of the HFBRT event:
Author guest post at All Thing's Royal