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Secrets of the Tudor Court: By Royal Decree…
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Secrets of the Tudor Court: By Royal Decree

by Kate Emerson

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I wanted to like these books. I wanted to like them enough to keep them in the library and recommend them to other Tudor history buffs. Even after reading all three, I kept looking for a reason to like them. But that just never happened.

Kate Emerson advertises herself as an “expert in all things Tudor,” which right off the bat makes me suspicious. Tudor history is large and messy; covering many decades and hundreds of players. From the seamtresses who designed the gowns and costumes for the royals to the scullery maid in any given kitchen, Tudor history is crowded with people wanting to tell their story. Being an expert in all things Tudor can’t be done.

These books were written poorly, even woodenly at times and are overwrought with romantic conjecture and conniving. They are set in the Tudor court, and they follow minor characters of the Tudor court, but they are not about the Tudors. These are romance novels dressed up in Tudor regalia. These are not the stories of fully-rounded people whose stock in trade must be courtly intrigue and politics in order to survive. I found these books to be flat, boring at times and kept hoping for more … something.

If you want to read really good historical fiction about the Tudor era, especially Elizabeth I, stick to Phiippa Gregory ( )
  AuntieClio | Jun 26, 2011 |
Kate Emerson's Secrets of the Tudor Court has an interesting history, especially in relationship to me. When I read the first book in the series, The Pleasure Palace, I was genuinely interested in the book's content and spent months trying to track it down. Once I finally read it, I found it to be incredibly disappointing and really weak when compared to the rest of the genre. I thought that was the end of my relationship with Emerson and Secrets of the Tudor Court, but not long after the second book, Between Two Queens, was released, I had the opportunity to review it, so I did. Between Two Queens was a huge improvement on The Pleasure Palace, though not one of the better novels I've read set in that period. Mostly on a whim, and because it was available at my local library, I decided to pick up the latest installment in the series, By Royal Decree.

My expectations were moderate to low. I was hoping it would be an improvement, but wasn't won over by Emerson's track record. However, I soon found that By Royal Decree was so much more enjoyable than the previous books in the series, an incredible step up for author Emerson and a surprisingly enjoyable read filled with politics, intrigue, war and a dash of romance.

In By Royal Decree, readers get to know Bess Brooke, a lower noblewoman who, along with dozens of other eligible young women, is sent to court to dine with Henry VIII on the eve of former queen Katherine Howard's execution. Rumor has it that Henry is looking for a new wife, and Bess's parents are ambitious. Though the king shows Bess some attention, she has no interest in the man, now in his fifties and highly obese, but, however, she meets the dashing Will Parr, brother of the soon-to-be-queen Catherine Parr (aka Lady Latimer), whom she definitely has an interest in. Though Will returns her affections, there is a catch -Will was once married to a young woman named Anne and, though Paraliment granted him a divorce, it was decreed that Will could not marry again for as long as Anne lived. Bess constantly fights to be able to marry -and later, stay married to -Will, but their marriage because drenched in politics, religious feuds and court intrigue that may keep them apart -or even kill them.

I thought By Royal Decree was going to be just another mushy Tudor-period historical romance. Though it started out that way, it grows into something more. Bess matures into an amazing, intelligent woman who has the smarts to navigate the perils of court life while keeping her head and Will's. Bess survives the end of Henry VIII's reign, Edward's short reign, the ill-fated reign of Lady Jane Grey, and the heretic-burning reign of Mary. All the time fighting to be with Will while trying to play the winning side of the constant political turmoil in that period of British history.

A surprising tale of a strong, intelligent woman who uses her wits and connections to get what she wants while surviving, By Royal Decree is more like political historical with some romance thrown in than a historical romance. I was completely enthralled in the last portion of the book when Bess comes into her own and politics really heat up. By far, this is the best book in Secrets of the Tudor Court series so far. I'm excited to see what Emerson delivers next. ( )
  BookAddictDiary | Feb 20, 2011 |
In 1542 a young noblewoman named Elizabeth Brooke (Bess) arrives at the court of King Henry VIII. Only 15 she is there along with a number of women, as possible choices to be the next Queen. Not having any interest in the decaying King - she tries to keep her head down. Before heading back home she does catch the interest of William Parr, brother to Catherine Parr. The moment they see each other it's love and so begins a dangerous and wonderful love story.

By Royal Decree is a pretty amazing read. Intrigue and passion drive this story. I loved it. Rich in historic detail. Ms. Emerson's writing pulls you in from page one and makes you feel like your really there in the Tudor court. This is the third book in the Secrets of the Tudor Court, telling the story of Elisabeth Brooke and William Parr. I enjoyed Bess & Will's story. They went to through hell to be together and through all the pain and heartache they believed it was worth it. This is only the second time reading Kate Emerson, but she has become a favorite. If your a fan of Tudors, you won't want to miss this book.

The book also includes maps, family trees and a Who's who of the Tudor Court. They were great tools to have while reading the book. As I said above this book is part of the series, but can definitely be read as a stand alone story. ( )
  vampiregirl76 | Dec 6, 2010 |
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Lady-in-waiting Bess must resist the handsome Will Parr, who is betrothed to another.

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