Sunday, November 13, 2011

Review: The Queen's Lady by Eve Edwards

The Queen's Lady (The Lacey Chronicles, Book #2)
by Eve Edwards
Release Date: February 1st, 2011
2011 Razorbill
Softcover Edition; 324 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-141-32733-4
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Young Adult
Source: Review Copy from Penguin Canada

4 / 5 Stars

1584 – Surrey, England  When Lady Jane Rievaulx begins service to the Queen at Richmond Palace, she is thrilled at the court’s newest arrival . . . Master James Lacey. Despite her previous courtship with his older brother, James is the man she truly loves. And for his part, he cannot deny his fascination with her. However, James is setting sail on a treacherous journey to the Americas, seeking absolution for what he sees as past sins. But when Lady Jane is forced into a terrible situation by her own family, there is only one man to save her. Will Master James return to his lady ­- before it’s too late?

My Thoughts
The Queen's Lady is the second book in the Lacy Chronicles and tells the story of James Lacy and Lady Jane, two characters to which we are introduced in The Other Countess, the first novel in the series.  Having read the first novel, I was pleasantly surprised by the The Queen's Lady as I was glad to see the further development of Jane's character as she was by far one of my favourite characters in The Other Countess.  I actually thought she displayed the most possibility for being a unique and enjoyable character, and her antics in the first novel are what made it so interesting.  While she was far tamer in the second book, having undergone a transformation while in exile and during her marriage, it seemed like her vitality was just simmering below the surface and the fire she displayed in the first novel was just waiting to come out. 

One of the things I really enjoyed about this novel is the conflict that women often faced during this time period, regardless of how strong a character you have or how much money you may have.  Despite finally winning freedom from her awful and controlling family, Jane quickly finds herself under their wing as their machinations and betrayals force her hand into a foreign marriage that she does not want.  I read Jane's struggles with interest as it really showed how desperate women were, especially those who waited on the Queen, despite the money, power, and position they may have held, and how they could be easily tricked into following their family's wishes.  I really felt for Jane in her predicament, but with the Queen backing her family, and the threat of insanity hovering over her head, there was little she could do.  I couldn't imagine feeling that powerless and although I felt for Jane in her predicament, being a woman of the modern world, it really is hard to imagine what that would be like as we have so much freedom.  The fact that she has to rely so heavily on other people to get her out of her predicaments must really weigh heavily on her, and she was lucky to have had that help as to many others did not.

I enjoyed the further development of Jane's character in this novel, but she had changed so much from the first novel that it was difficult, at times, to reconcile her as being the same person.  I liked especially when she was rebellious or did something that went against decorum as she seemed so much more likeable and personable that way, and she often got herself into a lot of trouble too.  Her temper tantrums made her seem more normal, and although she alienated her maids on occasion, they were fun to read about.   James was a much more serious character in this novel than in the first, but he had spent time in the Low Countries and had seen some atricious things while serving there.  He was suffering from a form of PTSD and needed some help to overcome his anxiety and nightmares, something of which Jane could not understand.  I thought the voyage to America was too pat in healing his anxiety and stress disorder, but swallowed it for the sake of the novel.  Milly and Diego were favourites of mine, and I wish the author had spent more time delving into their relationship and the difficulties they would have faced during this time period.  This is another area I thought was dealt with a little too succintly, but perhaps there will be more in the third novel.

The Queen's Lady is an enjoyable and quick read, with characters that are interesting and fun.  If you are looking for something that is really deep and involved, you will not find that in these novels, as they tend to be more on the lighter side of historical fiction.  The great attention to detail, and the polish that many of the great historical novels have is missing, but The Queen's Lady has a charm of its own that makes it whimsical.  I am looking forward to reading The Rogue's Princess, the next novel in this series, about James and Will Lacey's half-brother Christopher Turner.