The Boleyn Reckoning

The Boleyn Reckoning (The Boleyn Trilogy, #3)The Boleyn Reckoning by Laura Andersen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very satisfying conclusion to this well-done alternate history trilogy. I look forward to seeing where Laura Andersen will go next. These books do NOT stand alone. Thank goodness for the advance reading copy (the book will be published in July) so I didn’t have to wait for the conclusion! While Minuette was clearly the focus of the first book, bordering on a sort of Tudor Mary Sue, here she is almost in danger of fading into the background, relegated to pregnant married wife status, albeit the current obsession of the King of England. Neither she nor Dominic lead the action, although they are still central to the plot, as events unravel following their secret marriage in book two. No, this book is much more about William and his descent into a vengeful tyrant. (It is by far the darkest of the three books.) It is also about Elizabeth and her continuing machinations behind the scenes to try and repair the damage that William is doing. She is loyal to her brother, but she is more loyal to her country. Heads will roll before all is said and done. It probably isn’t a spoiler to say that we know Mary Tudor and William will have to die, leaving Elizabeth on the throne in the end. That lends a certain inevitability to some of the action. We know that William can’t be saved, and we might wish for some kind of intervention to change the ending, but I do think it is all quite believable. I was a teensy bit disappointed that Elizabeth did not assert herself more, but it probably is true to character that she would have worked more behind the scenes. Some of the other minor characters had important parts to play, and without giving anything away, I was pleased with their part in the story.

Book description: The Tudor royal family has barely survived a disastrous winter. Now English ships and soldiers prepare for the threat of invasion. But William Tudor—known as Henry IX—has his own personal battles to attend to. He still burns for Minuette, his longtime friend, but she has married William’s trusted advisor, Dominic, in secret—an act of betrayal that puts both their lives in danger. Princess Elizabeth, concerned over her brother’s erratic, vengeful behavior, imperils her own life by assembling a shadow court in an effort to protect England. With war on the horizon, Elizabeth must decide where her duty lies: with her brother or her country. Her choice could forever change the course of history.

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The Boleyn Deceit

The Boleyn Deceit (The Boleyn Trilogy, #2)The Boleyn Deceit by Laura Andersen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am continuing to enjoy this series very much. As I think I said in my review of The Boleyn King, I wasn’t sure I would like the alternate history angle, but it is very well done. The political background is familiar, but the characters are new, so you don’t know from history what is going to happen. The Boleyn King was almost a coming of age story – William comes into his majority, but is still very much dependent on his circle of childhood friends, Minuette, Dominic, and his sister Elizabeth. The Boleyn Deceit takes on a somewhat darker character as William learns to exercise his power and is subject to the not-unfamiliar-to-us Tudor-style sense of entitlement and arrogance. Minuette has grown up and is no longer torn in her flirtations between William and Dominic. She loves Dominic, but William’s love for her and determination to make her his wife puts her in a very precarious and dangerous position. The court intrigues around Mary and the Protestant/Catholic tension continues. William is negotiating marriage agreements with the French (to appease the Catholics) which he has no intentions of carrying out. Likewise, he is setting up negotiations with the Spanish King Philip for the hand of Elizabeth. Like the first novel, not much is resolved here, so the story is to be continued in The Boleyn Reckoning.

Book Description: The regency period is over and William Tudor, now King Henry IX, sits alone on the throne. But England must still contend with those who doubt his legitimacy, both in faraway lands and within his own family. To diffuse tensions and appease the Catholics, William is betrothed to a young princess from France, but still he has eyes for only his childhood friend Minuette, and court tongues are wagging. Even more scandalous—and dangerous, if discovered—is that Minuette’s heart and soul belong to Dominic, William’s best friend and trusted advisor. Minuette must walk a delicate balance between her two suitors, unable to confide in anyone, not even her friend Elizabeth, William’s sister, who must contend with her own cleaved heart. In this irresistible tale, the secrets that everyone keeps are enough to change the course of an empire.

The Boleyn King

The Boleyn King (The Boleyn Trilogy, #1)The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Setting: England, Hampton Court,
Time: 1553-1554

Main characters: Anne Boleyn, her daughter Elizabeth, her son Henry IX (known as William), Dominic Courtenay (son of a traitor, mother “a Boleyn”, ward of George Boleyn, Lord Rochford), Genevieve Wyatt (known as Minuette)

First paragraph, Chapter One: “I am seventeen today and have decided that, although I shall never be a scholar like Elizabeth, I can at least keep a diary. My history is quickly told – daughter of a French mother and an English gentleman, no siblings, and no parents since I was eight….”

Favorite line: “Whistling softly, William stepped into the privy chamber and surveyed the pieces of what looked to have been a matched set of pottery vases scattered around the fireplace. His mother stopped in midpace, skirts swirling around her, and he said, ‘Whose head shall I have off this time, Mother?’ ”

I enjoyed this alternate view of history. The son of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn is about to come into his majority. England is divided over the succession, with the dispossessed Mary the center of Catholic conspiracies. At the heart of this novel is a document that purports to testify that William was NOT the son of Henry VIII. A woman is murdered and Minuette, Dominic, Elizabeth, and William attempt to solve the mystery, and become swept up in the court intrigue. William is not immune to the temptations of privilege and power. Dominic is determined to prove himself different from his traitorous father. Elizabeth, as the sister of a king, is a political pawn to be given in marriage wherever it will be to the best advantage. And Minuette writes in her diary and agonizes over whether she loves William or Dominic. Without giving any spoilers, let’s just say that there are plenty of loose threads still at the end of the book, to be continued in the next installment, The Boleyn Deceit.

Description: The Boleyn King is the first book in an enthralling trilogy that dares to imagine: What if Anne Boleyn had actually given Henry VIII a son who grew up to be king?

Just seventeen years old, Henry IX, known as William, is a king bound by the restraints of the regency yet anxious to prove himself. With the French threatening battle and the Catholics sowing the seeds of rebellion at home, William trusts only three people: his older sister Elizabeth; his best friend and loyal counselor, Dominic; and Minuette, a young orphan raised as a royal ward by William’s mother, Anne Boleyn. Against a tide of secrets, betrayal, and murder, William finds himself fighting for the very soul of his kingdom. Then, when he and Dominic both fall in love with Minuette, romantic obsession looms over a new generation of Tudors. One among them will pay the price for a king’s desire, as a shocking twist of fate changes England’s fortunes forever.

About the author: Laura Andersen has one husband, four children, and a college degree in English that she puts to non-profitable use by reading everything she can lay her hands on. Books, shoes, and travel are her fiscal downfalls, which she justifies because all three ‘take you places.’ She loves the ocean (but not sand), forests (but not camping), good food (but not cooking), and shopping (there is no downside.) Historical fiction offers her all the pleasure of visiting the past without the inconvenience of no electricity or indoor plumbing. After more than thirty years spent west of the Rocky Mountains, she now lives in Massachusetts with her family.