Prisoner of the Queen (Tales from the Tudor Court, Book #2)
By E. Knight
Release Date: July 30th 2014
2014 Knight Publishing, LLC
Ebook Edition; 335 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from HF Virtual Book Tours
4 / 5 Stars
I have served three queens in my life. One was my sister, one was my savior, and one my bitterest enemy.
Knowing she was seen as a threat to the Queen she served, Lady Katherine Grey, legitimate heir to the throne, longs only for the comfort of a loving marriage and a quiet life far from the intrigue of the Tudor court. After seeing her sister become the pawn of their parents and others seeking royal power and then lose their lives for it, she is determined to avoid the vicious struggles over power and religion that dominate Queen Elizabeth’s court. Until she finds love—then Kat is willing to risk it all, even life in prison.
Prisoner of the Queen is the second book in the Tales of the Tudor Series and I enjoyed it quite a bit. There is so much literature about Jane Grey and her unsuccessful attempt at gaining the throne while the tales of her sisters and her family often takes a backseat to that story line, so it was a pleasure to have a plot feature Katherine Grey as the main character. With so many different interpretations about the lives of the Grey sisters, and the political machinations that existed during this time period, something that is often described as a "viper's nest" today, it was interesting to view everything from Katherine's perspective.
Personally, I really enjoyed Katherine and her personality. I thought she was sweet, kind, resourceful, and very much aware of her situation, often playing the silly woman in order to find out information that would be useful to her and her plight. Being cousin to both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth put her in a very perilous position at court, with many people claiming that she was the rightful heir, causing problems between herself and Elizabeth, who could not trust her no matter what. Despite all of this, Katherine tried over and over again to win Elizabeth's trust, only to be thrown over and over again into situations beyond her control, all due to the blood that coursed through her veins. I can't imagine what it would be like to live day in and out in a situation such as this, wondering if you would wake up every morning with soldiers pounding on your door to take you to the Tower because of your heritage. It must have been extremely stressful, yet Katherine handles things with maturity and grace. Of course she gets angry from time to time as she was separated from her betrothed for many years, and also frustrated, but through it all, she kept hoping that Elizabeth would grant her clemency and allow her to be a woman for a change and be married. Katherine definitely shows a lot of steel beneath those vapid looks, and could be quite determined when she wanted to be. Even though I was familiar with her story, I still rooted for her every step of the way.
I found the viewpoint on Elizabeth to be quite interesting as she was cold and calculating, a portrayal that is oftentimes different from how she is perceived, and I liked it. Bitter and resentful from her years before being crowned, she has difficulty seeing past that bitterness and often took it out on her courtiers by expecting certain things from them, such as not succumbing to men and their affectations. Women who did fall in love were subject to ridicule and wrath, and although there may have been a touch or two of compassion, it was quickly overlooked by her contempt. She was a woman damaged and determined to be difficult to anyone who stood in her way or who went against her wishes and desires, a woman who could be selfish and self-absorbed. I thought the author did a great job portraying Elizabeth as I don't think she was ever someone soft or she would never have been able to survive being queen in a climate such as the one fostered in England during this time period. Her courtiers definitely walked a fine line between acceptance and accusation, and it didn't take much to fall out of favour.
Prisoner of the Queen was a good historical fiction read, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. This is definitely one of those reads where I rooted for Katherine every step of the way despite knowing what would happen, through all the scandals and the heartbreak, through the worry and the fears, through the joy and the tears. Katherine is a woman who is portrayed as being passionate and loyal, yet is at the mercy of her royal connection to the throne. The writing was good and so was the meticulous research into the time period; if I had one complaint, it would be the glossing over of certain events I thought were important in Katherine's life, plus I would have liked to understand more about the relationship between her and her mother, especially as Lady Frances was considered to be quite formidable.