The Scandalous Duchess by Anne O’Brien

The scandalous duchess
Published by MIRA on 7 March 2014.

“If you will be a great man’s mistress you must pay the price…

1372, The Savoy. Widow Lady Katherine Swynford presents herself for a role in the household of merciless royal prince John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, hoping to end her destitution. But the Duke’s scandalous proposition leaves her life of pious integrity reeling…

Seduced by the glare of royal adoration, Katherine becomes John’s mistress. She will leave behind everything she has stood for to play second fiddle to his young wife and ruthless ambition. She will live in the shadows of the most powerful man in England in the hope of a love greater than propriety. 

But soon the court whispers – whore, harlot, vile temptress – reach the ears of not just John’s bride but his most dangerous political enemies. As the Plantagenet prince is accused of bringing England to its knees, who better to blame than shameless she-devil Katherine Swynford? Dragged from the shadows, Katherine must answer for her sins.”


Firstly I’d like to thank ED PR for sending me this book to read and give an honest review.  I previously read and very much enjoyed The Forbidden Queen (review here) by the same author so I was really keen to get started on this one!

The prologue introduced me to Katherine and the unfortunate situation she found herself in. Katherine seemed like a strong, interesting woman and I was immediately drawn in by her. When the Duke’s proposition came along a short while later I found that it wasn’t as harsh as I had expected and, even though I felt he was rather quick off the mark, I actually quite liked him. Katherine’s reaction to the proposition was interesting and once again not as I had expected – as I read further and learned the strength of her feelings I began to understand her reaction better.

The Duke’s seduction of Katherine was wonderful to read, this part created a dangerous sort of excitement that radiated from the book.  I felt nervous for Katherine when rumours began to circulate and I was surprised by this – being a married woman myself, I thought I would feel a strong dislike towards the ‘scandalous Duchess’ simply because of her involvement with a married man but somehow it wasn’t like that at all.  She wasn’t as brazen as I thought she would be and I found myself respecting her attempts to put distance between herself and the Duke.

The whole story captivated me, I was taken along on a historical ride that had me glued to the pages and eventually I was brought to tears by an emotional epilogue.  It was beautifully written once again, the author has the wonderful ability of making history come to life.  I have to admit that history has never been one of my favourite subjects but with Anne’s books I find myself utterly immersed in the subject – the characters, the setting, the old-fashioned customs, and especially the romance, all combined to give me a fascinating glimpse into the past!

This was another fabulous, romantic read by Anne O’Brien.


Anne O’Brien was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire.  After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Masters degree in Education at Hull, she worked as a History teacher in East Riding until she was encouraged by success in short story competitions to become a full-time author.  After publishing a number of “Regency Romances”, Anne decided to focus on giving voice to women in history who fascinated her the most.  In 2010, she published the acclaimed Virgin Widow, which told the story of Anne Neville, the wife of Richard, Duke of Gloucester.  Devil’s Consort followed in 2011, telling the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and in 2012, Anne published The King’s Concubine, depicting the scandalous life of Alice Perrers, the mistress of Edward III, and Katherine de Valois, the child bride of Henry V in The Forbidden Queen (2013).  The Scandalous Duchess is her fifteenth novel.

Anne lives with her husband in an 18th Century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marshes in Herefordshire, an area steeped in history.  ’A wild and beautiful place’, on the border between England and Wales, it is renowned for its black and white timbered houses, ruined castles and priories and magnificent churches, as well as a fair few bloody deeds.  When not writing, Anne enjoys trekking (early experiences were both exhilarating and beautiful, or life-threatening!), yoga and gardening in her herb patch patterned on a Tudor knot Garden.

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