This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands,-- This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. ~~William Shakespeare, Richard III

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Book Review: Secrets of the Tudor Court: Between Two Queens

Between Two Queens, Kate Emerson
2 roses

I enjoyed the first book in Emerson's Tudor Court series well enough so I picked up the second in the series to continue the journey. While the first book was okay this one really fell flat.

**May contain spoilers**

This story is about Anne (Nan) Bassett, a young woman who comes to Henry VIII's court not only hoping to be chosen as a maid of honor to Queen Jane but determined to find a husband, a wealthy one complete with a title. She eventually captures the eye of the king and hopes to use that as a way of achieving her marriage goals though, of course, things don't work out as she wanted. Added to the mix is the pressure her mother puts on her to single-handedly advance the family socially and the fact that the family is caught up in intrigue and possible treason, which of course, Cromwell sniffs out . Aside from some really good details of life at the Tudor court, there really isn't much I can say about this novel. I never connected with any of the characters, finding them completely uninteresting. The main character, Anne Bassett, annoyed me throughout with her constant assessment of the men around her as marriage material: are they wealthy? do they have land? do they have a title? I understand that women of a certain social rank during this period did look for that in a man but she was so arrogant about it that it really made me dislike her. She really comes across as a greedy, self-serving little thing. Nan is constantly moving around in an effort to remain at court because, of course, you can't catch a titled husband anywhere else. The entire novel seemed a bit adrift as if the author wasn't entirely sure where she was going with it. I'm still not sure why she had Anne having a secret child, only to give it away and then have it die in the plague; I never saw the point in including this in the story as it never added anything to the overall narrative. At one point I thought one of the other young ladies was going to blackmail her with the knowledge but then that moment passed. Once she finally realized who she was in love with and wanted to marry, she wouldn't marry him until he had regained all his lands and their marriage is mentioned almost as an aside at the very end of the novel.

Anne Bassett was a real woman at Henry's court, though besides the fact that she was his mistress for a short time, not much is known about her. As in her first novel in the series, Emerson tried to weave mystery and intrigue into the story but I felt she really didn't succeed. Where as in the first novel I really did want to find out the answers to the "mystery," here I just didn't care. I would only recommend this to people looking for some light fluff to read and not someone who is very well read about the Tudor era.


  1. I understand your opinions, but you give away much of the plot of the novel! You may want to mention "spoiler alert" etc.
    I can empathize with the woman needing to marry a man in order to maintain their status, that was the one single thing that women were allowed to do in those days: marry.
    If they married poorly, there was never going to be any advancement, just hardship for her and her offspring. I have to appreciate that dilemma. And I really appreciated the extra details that the author inserted throughout the novel, it was a very interesting read for the Tudor buff I am trying to be.
    Thanks for your thoughts on this though..
    And an opposing review for those still on the fence can be found here and at Historically Obsessed.

  2. Thanks for the honest review...when reading historical fiction I'm not usually looking for fluff though.