Author: Kate Emerson
Series: 5th (The Pleasure Palace, Between Two Queens, By Royal Decree, At The King's Pleasure)
Published: August 7th 2012 by Gallery Books
Source: Personal Copy
Description: A real-life letter from Spanish Ambassador Eustace Chapuys, written on September 27, 1534, reported that the king had "renewed and increased the love he formerly bore to another very handsome young lady of the Court" and that the queen had tried "to dismiss the damsel from her service." Other letters from Eustace reveal that the mystery woman was a "true friend" of the Princess (later Queen) Mary, Henry's daughter by Catherine of Aragon. Though no one knows who "the king's damsel" really was, here Kate Emerson presents her as young gentlewoman Thomasine Lodge, a lady-in-waiting to King Henry's daughter, Princess Mary. Thomasine becomes the Princess's confidante, especially as Henry's marriage to Catherine dissolves and tensions run high. When the king procures a divorce in order to marry Anne Boleyn, who is suspicious and distrustful of Mary, Mary has Thomasine placed in Anne's service to be her eyes and ears. And that's when she gets the attention of the king.
I Give This ...
I was curious about this 5th installment in the series. We all know about Henry VII's famous mistresses, but I don't doubt that there were plenty of others. I was most interested in this one because of the Anne Boleyn factor. She seemed like a highly emotional woman and I wanted to see how this played out.
First off, I really liked Thomasine. She may be an entirely fictional character, but I enjoyed her presence in the royal court. She very well could have existed! I disliked her benefactor. I knew there were wards of the crown, but I never realized that these wards could be bought. A discouraging thought to say the least. I'm happy that she only does the minimum that he asks of her and that he never truly forces her hand until the end.
I enjoyed the interactions between Princess Mary, Thomasine, and Anne Boleyn. It seems I've read very few books dealing in this exact time period so I'm unfamiliar with how Princess Mary and Anne interacted. I'm not surprised at all this is all reality, but it really made me care for both historical figures even less. Although, I do have a hard time laying much fault with Princess Mary. I do wonder how much of these interactions lead to some her actions during her reign.
Despite my interest in the characters, I found this installment to be very slow. With the title given, I was a little surprised with Thomasine didn't become the king's mistress until about 3/4 of the way through the book. It really felt like a lot of unnecessary detail although it did paint a vivid picture of the fine line people walked during this time.