Author: Kate Emerson
Series: 2nd (The Pleasure Palace)
Published: January 5th 2010 by Pocket
Source: Personal Copy
Description: Pretty, flirtatious, and ambitious. Nan Bassett hopes that an appointment at the court of King Henry VIII will bring her a grand marriage. But soon after she becomes a maid of honor to Queen Jane, the queen dies in childbirth. As the court plunges into mourning, Nan sets her sights on the greatest match in the land...for the king has noticed "her." After all, it wouldn't be the first time King Henry has chosen to wed a maid of honor. And in newly Protestant England, where plots to restore the old religion abound, Nan may be the only one who can reassure a suspicious king of her family's loyalty. But the favor of a king can be dangerous and chancy, not just for Nan, but for her family as well...and passionate Nan is guarding a secret, one that could put her future -- and her life -- in grave jeopardy should anyone discover the truth.
I Give This ...
I've been collecting this series for awhile, but just recently starting digging into them. I was intrigued by the idea of lesser knows historical figures and building the royal court around them. I often feel you get a different view of the royals this way. Sadly, I was really unimpressed with this installement.
Why didn't I like it...Nan. She is seriously one of the most shallow and selfish characters I think I've ever read about. I know women had it hard in this time period. But all Nan cared about was putting herself in the best position to land the man with the best title and the most money. She had plenty of chances to marry but they were never good enough for her. She also had an interesting habit of escaping suspicion. As dangerous at the court of King Henry VIII was, I'm surprised she wasn't imprisoned several times over. The more amazing thing was that she never married the King. As much as she wanted a title and the money, she never wanted a crown. She never pushed that issue.
What I did enjoy was the glimpse we get behind the scenes. Nan served as maid of honor to Queen Jane, Queen Anne, and Queen Catherine. She also served in Princess Mary's house. She was at the mercy of keeping the King's favor so she could continue to be at court. The book also depicts Nan as being pivotal in bringing Katherine Parr and the King together. She managed to have her hands in so many things. But, despite all that I just couldn't bring myself to like her.
As for the secret, yes it's one that could ruin Nan and possibly several others. However, there's never the scandal of anybody finding out. It's an element of the story that I could have done without. I think had it been done differently, it might have made Nan seem a little bit more compassionate.
I'll continue the series...because I'm fascinated with this time period. Kate Emerson definitely had something to offer to that!