#BookReview The Queen’s Lady by Joanna Hickson @HarperFiction

The Queen's LadyAbout the Book

Can she tread a dangerous line between love and duty?

Raven-haired and fiercely independent, Joan Guildford has always remained true to herself.  As lady-in-waiting and confidante to Queen Elizabeth, wife of Henry VII, Joan understands royal patronage is vital if she and her husband, Sir Richard, are to thrive in the volatile atmosphere of court life.

But Tudor England is in mourning following the death of the Prince of Wales, and within a year, the queen herself. With Prince Henry now heir to the throne, the court murmurs with the sound of conspiracy. Is the entire Tudor project now at stake or can young Henry secure the dynasty?

Drawn into the heart of the crisis, Joan’s own life is in turmoil, and her future far from secure. She faces a stark choice – be true to her heart and risk everything, or play the dutiful servant and watch her dreams wither and die. For Joan, and for Henry’s Kingdom, everything is at stake…

Format: Hardcover (464 pages)         Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 20th January 2022 Genre: Historical Fiction

Find The Queen’s Lady (Queens of the Tower, Book 2) on Goodreads

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My Review

The Queen’s Lady is the second in the author’s Queens of the Tower series, the follow-up to The Lady of the Ravens which I read in 2020.

The Queen’s Lady continues the story of Joan Vaux, now Lady Joan Guildford, lady-in-waiting to the wife of Henry VII, Queen Elizabeth.  Her position in the Tudor court gives her an insight into many of the significant events of the period: the death of Prince Arthur and the replacement of Prince Henry (the future Henry VIII) as heir to the throne, and the attempts of Queen Elizabeth to produce another son. The reader also witnesses the effect of Henry VII’s increasing paranoia, the growing factional infighting and general air of distrust which eventually has personal consequences for Joan’s family, especially her husband, Sir Richard Guildford.

As well as providing an ‘insider’s view’ of historical events, such as the marriage of Henry VII’s daughter Margaret to King James IV of Scotland, Joan’s experiences shed light on many social issues such as the dangers of childbirth, the frequent death of children in infancy, the plight of the poor and women’s diminished position in society. It also demonstrates that political intrigue and a system based on preferment and patronage has been with us for centuries!

I liked the sections of the book that focused on Joan’s personal life even if, sadly, her beloved ravens are not as much in evidence as in the previous book. Although a life not without tragedy, later in life Joan is rewarded with love, companionship and a degree of independence. The Queen’s Lady is a must-read for those who like their historical fiction rich in detail and full of period atmosphere, from the lavish apartments of royal residences to the squalor of London’s Fleet prison.

I received a review copy courtesy of HarperCollins via NetGalley.

In three words: Well-researched, authentic, absorbing

Try something similar: Cecily by Annie Garthwaite

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Joanna HicksonAbout the Author

Joanna Hickson was born in England but spent her early childhood in Australia, returning at thirteen to visit her first castle and fall in love with medieval history. During a twenty-five year career in the BBC, presenting and producing News and Arts programmes for TV and Radio, Joanna also published a children’s historical novel Rebellion at Orford Castle but now she is writing adult fiction full-time, indulging her passion for bringing the medieval past and its characters to life.

First inspired by Shakespeare’s history plays she began researching Catherine de Valois, Henry V’s ‘Fair Kate’, who is the subject of The Agincourt Bride and The Tudor Bride and now her interest has progressed into the Wars of the Roses which form the background to Red Rose, White Rose and the eventful life of Cicely Neville, Duchess of York and will also feature in her next two novels. As a result Joanna warns that she spends much of her life in the fifteenth century and even her Wiltshire farmhouse home dates back to that period. She is married and has an extensive family, some of which boomerang her back to Australia for visits! (Photo/bio: Publisher author page)

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#BlogTour #BookReview Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman @BoldwoodBooks

Before We Grow OldWelcome to the first day of the blog tour – which also happens to be publication day! – for Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Boldwood Books for my digital review copy via NetGalley. Do check out the posts by my tour buddies for today, Sheri at My Reading Getaway and the team at Romance By The Book.

Before We Grow OldAbout the Book

Some people are just made for each other…

When seven-year-old Fran first met Will they knew instantly that they were made for each other. For eleven years they were inseparable, but then, at the age of eighteen, Will just upped and disappeared.

Twenty-five years later Will is back. Is fate trying to give them a second chance?

Still nursing the heart break from all those years ago, Fran is reluctant to give Will the time of day. The price Will must pay is to tell the truth – the truth about why he left, the truth about why he’s back…

And Fran has her own secrets to hide. The time has come to decide what Fran and Will really want from life – before it’s too late. ..

Format: Paperback (314 pages)         Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication date: 19th January 2022 Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

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My Review

When Fran and Will run into each other in a coffee shop after a gap of twenty-five years is it coincidence, fate or something else? Finding themselves both single again, albeit each now with parental responsibilities, they quickly resume their relationship, their attraction to each other being as intense as it was all those years ago.

However, a revelation from Will causes Fran to reappraise her relationship with him and results in them embarking on a quest, along with Fran’s son, Kieran, to make the most of every day because, after all, you never know if it might be your last.

The story is told from Fran’s point of view meaning that the reader gets to witness her ever-changing emotions: doubt, guilt, resentment, frustration and an abiding sense of injustice. Not all of these may seem warranted. For instance, her initial response to Will’s revelation is one of anger when you might have expected, or hoped, her to feel sympathy – especially since Fran has a big secret of her own that she’s concealed for twenty-five years (the nature of which readers may well guess).

I found myself with immense sympathy for Will. Not only is he attempting to put things right with Fran but he is facing a personal challenge with fortitude and dignity. His tender relationship with his daughter, Elodie, was heart-warming and I also liked the bond he formed with Fran’s son, Kieran. Will’s world is rocked when Fran finally reveals the secrets she has concealed for so long but, despite everything he’s going through, he shows a capacity for forgiveness I found astonishing.

There are joyful moments in the book – one of my favourites involving Krispy Kreme doughnuts – but there is immense sadness as well. Before We Grow Old is something of an emotional rollercoaster that will have you laughing one moment and tearful the next. As the author demonstrates, life is a journey in which you never know what’s around the next corner. Carpe diem, as they say.

In three words: Emotional, tender, romantic

Try something similarThe Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves

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Clare SwatmanAbout the Author

Clare Swatman is the author of three women’s fiction novels, published by Macmillan, which have been translated into over 20 languages.

She has been a journalist for over twenty years, writing for Bella and Woman & Home amongst many other magazines.

She lives in Hertfordshire.

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