Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review - The Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien

The Forbidden QueenTitle: The Forbidden Queen
Author: Anne O'Brien
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 464
Published: January 28th 2014 by Harlequin MIRA
ISBN: 9780778314318
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Description: An innocent pawn. A kingdom without a king. A new dynasty will reign… 1415. The jewel in the French crown, Katherine de Valois, is waiting under lock and key for King Henry V. While he's been slaughtering her kinsmen in Agincourt, Katherine has been praying for marriage to save her from her misery. But the brutal king wants her crown, not her innocent love. For Katherine, England is a lion's den of greed, avarice and mistrust. And when she is widowed at twenty-one, she becomes a prize ripe for the taking—her young son the future monarch, her hand in marriage worth a kingdom. This is a deadly political game, one the dowager queen must learn fast. The players—the Duke of Gloucester, Edmund Beaufort and Owen Tudor—are circling. Who will have her? Who will ruin her? This is the story of Katherine de Valois.

I Give This ...

I've always admired the women who know they are being raised as bargaining tools for their fathers (or mothers).  Katherine de Valois has never felt loved, so its no wonder that she dreams of a man that will love her unconditionally.   But, in a world designed for men, Katherine has an uphill battle.

I've read about Katherine before, although I think most of the book was after she had married Owen Tudor (I could be wrong as its been many years since I've read it).  I was intrigued to read about her time before.  What would lead her to give up everything for a man such as Owen.  I was surprised to learn of her upbringing.  I knew next to nothing about her mad father and her scandalous mother.  It's any wonder that the King of England wanted her at all.  But in truth, he doesn't want her.  He would marry anybody that came with her dowry and the promise of the kingdom of France.  She would spend the next couple years trying to win him over.  At his death, she fully realized how unimportant she was to me.  He hadn't even called for her to wish her goodbye.

Katherine was extremely vulnerable at this point.  She was still young and the Dowager Queen, a political pawn for many.  There were those that greatly feared were her affections might fall.  She was still desperate for love and willingly believe all that Edmund Beaufort told her.  Sadly, he couldn't see any farther than the King had.  All he saw was what Katherine could give him.  For this mistake, Parliament took drastic measures and passed a law that stated that any man who married a Dowager Queen without the King's permission would be stripped of all titles and lands.  

At this point, I felt even more sorry for Katherine.  Outside of her son, she seemed to have very little happiness in life.  And her son was not fully in her control.  Being the King under regency rule, he was heavily influenced and educated by others.  It's no wonder that Owen Tudor caught her eye. At first, I think it was pure infatuation.   He didn't flatter her words and gestures.  He barely acknowledged her at all.  But, eventually fate caught up with them.  Their affection for each other grew with each private encounter.  Katherine vowed that she would not be made a fool of again and firmly believed that no man could love her enough to give up everything.  Owen proved her wrong.  Granted, he had nothing to loose but I think it made it that much more special. 

I really enjoyed reading about this relationship that gave birth to a dynasty.  I wonder if the future Tudor line took after Katherine or Owen more?  I need to look for this author's other books!

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