Sunday, January 26, 2014

Review: Royal Inheritance by Kate Emerson

Royal Inheritance (Secrets of the Tudor Court, #6)
by Kate Emerson
Release Date: September 24th, 2013
2013 Gallery Books
Softcover Edition; 368 Pages
ISBN: 978-1451661514
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Audrey Malte, born about 1528 and raised at court by the king’s tailor, John Malte, was led to believe she is Malte’s illegitimate daughter when, in fact, her father is King Henry VIII. When she reaches marriageable age, she begins to realize, from the way certain people behave toward her, that Malte is keeping secrets from her, and she sets out to discover the truth. Her quest involves the best and the worst of the courtiers, among them a man with whom she falls in love.

Unfortunately, Malte has already entered into negotiations for her betrothal to someone else, and Audrey guesses the truth about her legacy when the king settles property on her, jointly with Malte. Marriage is definitely in Audrey’s future, but will it be to the man she wants to wed?

My Thoughts
Royal Inheritance is the sixth book in the Secrets of the Tudor Court series. What I've always liked about this series is learning about the lives of women I had just heard about in passing, or had never heard about, but who actually existed during this time period.  It's always refreshing to read about the Tudor era from a unique and fresh viewpoint.   

Audrey is the illegitimate child of King Henry VIII and in this story, she is retelling her life to her young daughter, Hester, in order for her daughter to understand the dangers of having royal blood run through her veins.  I liked the set-up of the story as you get an understanding as to how things stand between Jack and Audrey in the present, as well as learn the story of how they got to the point where they are now.  I actually looked forward to the present scenes as I was quite interested in the political machinations of the Queen Mary time period and how Jack was involved considering they were both loyal to Princess Elizabeth, and very fearful for their lives and their livelihood.

I thought the plot was interesting, but I don't think it quite conveyed the urgency and the dangers of the late King Henry VIII's time period fully enough.  Audrey seemed to be somewhat naive as to what was happening around her, so focused on making sure she didn't marry Lord Southwell's son, that she seemed to ignore all of the other politicking that was going on.  And Jack, being so involved in Lord Admiral Seymour's life, would have been much more knowledgeable about the state of affairs in England that what is conveyed in this book.  I felt frustrated sometimes as the story seemed to drag over the marriage issue and pointedly ignored some of the other really important issues that were happening.  And after doing a bit of research, Jack was a bit more of a troublemaker than was conveyed in this book, and it's too bad we didn't really get to see that side to him, other than hints and flashes, such as when he was in the tower writing his dangerous poetry, as that would have added some fun to his story, I think.  

Royal Inheritance is an interesting entry in the series, but it is definitely not my favourite one (By Royal Decree still is.)  Although I know it is based on a true story, there were some parts that I had trouble suspending belief over, such as Audrey asking King Henry VIII if he was her father.  I just can't imagine anyone coming right out and having a conversation like that with him, especially in the last few months before his death, when he was said to be quite querulous.  And she obsessed over Jack for years, not really knowing anything about his life, or at least the readers didn't really learn anything about his life, which was frustrating.  That being said, Royal Inheritance was well-written, had a nice flow to it, and the transition from past to present was seamless.  I am always drawn to the Tudor era and enjoy reading about people and events that are different, and this, Ms. Emerson does well. 


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