Synopsis: Mistress Mary Shelton is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite ward, enjoying every privilege the position affords. The queen loves Mary like a daughter, and, like any good mother, she wants her to make a powerful match. The most likely prospect: Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. But while Oxford seems to be everything the queen admires: clever, polished and wealthy, Mary knows him to be lecherous, cruel, and full of treachery. No matter how hard the queen tries to push her into his arms, Mary refuses. Instead, Mary falls in love with a man who is completely unsuitable. Sir John Skydemore is a minor knight with little money, a widower with five children. Worst of all, he’s a Catholic at a time when Catholic plots against Elizabeth are rampant. The queen forbids Mary to wed the man she loves. When the young woman, who is the queen’s own flesh and blood, defies her, the couple finds their very lives in danger as Elizabeth’s wrath knows no bounds.
Characters: Mary Shelton is the main character and is fairly likable. I must say that I liked her a lot better toward the end of the book after she had grown up a bit. The Earl of Oxford was a pretty good villain, Robert Dudley was his usual arrogant self and Elizabeth was kind of silly. Seeing her flirt with all of the young men at court made me a little embarrassed for her.
Likes: I enjoyed reading about Queen Elizabeth as a 'mother'. The author portrayed her as a motherly sort of person who created this unique family situation with Robert Dudley and Mary Shelton. A lot of books focus on Elizabeth as queen so it was nice to imagine her differently. I really liked reading about all of the different 'characters' at court. The secondary characters were all pretty interesting and I would have liked to know more about them.
I also enjoyed all the different settings. The characters travel around to different palaces in different parts of the country and the author did a great job of describing these palaces and the sights and sounds within them. My favorite parts of the story are when Mary and John aren't at court; they seemed the most 'real' at those times.
Dislikes: The story was a little slow, especially in the beginning. It took me a while to get into the story and I never really got to a point where I cared about the characters a lot. It's not that I didn't like them, there just wasn't anything about them that really stood out to me.
Overall: 3 stars.
I received this book from HFVBT in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
For more information, please visit Anne Clinard Barnhill’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.
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