Blog Tour Review | The Queen’s Choice by Anne O’Brien #TheQueensChoice

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Queen’s Choice by Anne O’Brien.

Thank you to Sophie from ed public relations for sending me the book to read and share my thoughts.

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Publisher: Mira Books

Publication Date: 14 January 2016

“France, 1399: The Duke of Brittany is dead and his widow, Joanna of Navarre, has inherited control of their land – a testament to her intellect, integrity and political prowess.

Then comes an unprecedented proposal from Henry IV, King of England. The price of becoming his Queen? Abandoning her homeland, leaving her children and sacrificing her independence.

Henry’s hold on the crown is unsteady and war is brewing. With the constant threat of rebellion, Henry will trust no-one – not even his new Queen. Crossing the channel is a dangerous prospect. But the union between Joanna and Henry would bring the chance of a vital alliance between two proud states – if they will allow it.

One question. Two paths. A choice that will make history.

MY REVIEW

Regular Me, My Books and I readers will already know that I’m a fan of Anne O’Brien’s writing. This obviously means that I was super-keen to find out what she had in store for me this time.

Wow, what a journey! I was quickly pulled into the storyline and, as with all of Anne’s books, it was wonderful to revisit the past and discover it from yet another viewpoint.

I found Joanna very easy to like, she was quite feisty and, at times, hot-headed but I loved that side of her. Henry was someone I had been intrigued by in The King’s Sister so I relished the opportunity to find out more about him. I was surprised by what I found. I hadn’t expected to like him because of his actions in the previous book but as I read about the things he had been through I couldn’t help but warm to him. Another surprise for me was how Thomas de Camoys became such a favourite of mine, I can’t quite put my finger on why I liked him so much, all I know is that I smiled whenever he made an appearance.

When Joanna had to make a big decision about her future I had very mixed feelings which, I would imagine, was exactly how she felt about the situation. I loved how I was drawn into the storyline and made to feel part of it – as usual the author had a fantastic way of making me feel at home in history.

The twists and turns that followed were truly captivating, I became immersed in historical politics, family loyalties and romantic words of the past. As I reached the epilogue (which was everything I hoped it would be by the way) I felt sad that the book was coming to an end.

This was another wonderful novel from Anne O’Brien, a must-read for all historical fiction fans!

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR

ANNE O’BRIEN was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, she lived in the East Riding for many years where she taught History. Leaving teaching – but not her love of history – Anne turned to novel writing and her passion for giving voice to the oft forgotten women of the medieval era was born. Today Anne lives in an eighteenth-century cottage in Herefordshire, an area steeped in history and full of inspiration for her work.

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The King’s Sister by Anne O’Brien

Publisher: Mira Books

Publication Date: November 2014

One betrayal is all it takes to change history

1382. Daughter of John of Gaunt, sister to the future King Henry IV, Elizabeth of Lancaster has learned the shrewd tricks of the court from England’s most powerful men.

In a time of political turmoil, allegiance to family is everything. A Plantagenet princess should never defy her father’s wishes. Yet headstrong Elizabeth refuses to bow to the fate of a strategic marriage. Rejecting her duty, Elizabeth weds the charming and ruthlessly ambitious Sir John Holland: Duke of Exeter, half-brother to King Richard II and the one man she has always wanted.

But defiance can come at a price.

1399. Elizabeth’s brother Henry has seized the throne. Her husband, confidant to the usurped Richard, masterminds a secret plot against the new King. Trapped in a dangerous web, Elizabeth must make a choice.

Defy the King and betray her family. Or condemn her husband and send him to his death.

Sister. Wife. Traitor.

She holds the fate of England in her hands.”

MY REVIEW

Firstly I’d like to thank ED PR for sending me this book to read and share my honest opinion. Although I don’t often read historical fiction I have found that I really enjoy books by this author (reviews here) so I was looking forward to getting stuck in.

Every now and then a book comes along that touches me in a completely unexpected way. The King’s Sister was one of those books – the wonderfully romantic tale of Elizabeth of Lancaster and Sir John Holland played on my mind long after I had finished reading!

Elizabeth as a character had so much zest and passion within her, she was a romantic at heart and I found myself willing her on in her sometimes defiant behaviour. Unsurprisingly she found herself drawn to John and the love story that followed was exciting, dramatic and heart-melting.

Once again I just loved the way the author brought these historical characters to life and, in a crazy kind of way, they almost felt like close friends by the time I got to the end of the book.

Family loyalty was a big part of the storyline but love was an even bigger part, this was a truly powerful love story that pulled a range of emotions from me. In particular, there were a couple of scenes towards the end which had me in floods of tears – I felt as heartbroken as the character on the page!

This was another enchanting read from Anne O’Brien, my favourite so far.

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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.”

MY REVIEW

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.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR

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.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

BUY THE BOOK

Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | The Book Depository

The Forbidden Queen – Anne O’Brien

The Forbidden Queen

“1415.  The jewel in the French crown, Katherine de Valois, is waiting under lock and key to marry King Henry V.  For Katherine, England is a lion’s den of greed, avarice and mistrust.  And, when the magnificent King leaves her widowed at twenty-one, she is a prize ripe for the taking.

This is a deadly game; one the Dowager Queen must learn fast.  The players – the Duke of Gloucester, Edmund Beaufort and Owen Tudor – are circling.  Who will have her?  This is the story of Katherine de Valois, England’s most coveted prize.  The forbidden queen who launched the most famous dynasty of all time…”

Firstly I’d like to thank ED Public Relations for sending me this book to read and give an honest review. As I’ve said before, I don’t often read historical fiction and Katherine de Valois was new to me but it sounded thoroughly intriguing and I was looking forward to getting started.

It began with a brief introduction to Katherine’s childhood and, considering she was a princess, she seemed to be rather neglected.  Once she had reached a suitable age her mother set about trying to persuade King Henry V to accept Katherine as his wife, at this point she was young and hopeful and wanted nothing more than to be a good wife but she seemed unaware of what was expected of her.

I found it fascinating to learn about Katherine and I felt a genuine warmth towards her which lasted throughout the book.  As she adjusted to her new role as Queen her timid and sensitive demeanour worried me, she seemed to lack the power that a woman in her position needed but it was her strange detached marriage that ended up making her stronger.  When King Henry V died I was keen to see how it would affect Katherine’s strength and felt surprised by her reactions during the aftermath.

Edmund Beaufort arrived in a whirlwind and it was then that I saw a different Katherine altogether – he was wildly romantic and cheeky with it, he certainly brought out the fun side of Katherine and I enjoyed reading about their time together.  Owen Tudor was gentle and respectful, his presence going unnoticed until a moment which made it impossible for Katherine not to notice him!

A tangled web of lies, deceit and scandal seemed to follow Katherine wherever she went, some of her decisions were impulsive and didn’t serve her well but I was impressed when she stood firmly by her beliefs and fought passionately for them.  The writing was beautifully clear and precise which made this a very easy book to read, I flew through the pages as I became more and more caught up in Katherine’s life and the politics that had kept her prisoner.

The epilogue left me in tears – it was incredibly touching, as was Katherine’s life in general, and I couldn’t resist heading online to find out what had become of her family.

This was a romantic, fascinating and enjoyable read, I was utterly gripped by the words on its pages and would highly recommend it to others.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.  The Forbidden Queen is her fourteenth 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.

You can visit Anne O’Brien’s website for more information.

The Forbidden Queen was published by Mira and can be purchased from The Book DepositoryAmazon or from most good book retailers.