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The King's Favorite by Susan Holloway Scott

The King's Favorite

by Susan Holloway Scott

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After thoroughly enjoying Susan Holloway Scott's Royal Harlot, I was eager to jump into another of her wonderful Restoration-era novels. I, was, however, curious has to how this one would measure up. I'd already read about the Countess of Castlemaine, Sarah Churchill and the Duchess of Portsmouth in previous novels, so I was a little concerned about reading practically the same story yet again, only through the eyes of another character. Plus there's the fact that I read Diane Haeger's The Perfect Royal Mistress earlier this year, which is also about Nell Gwyn, so I already had a very clear idea of what to expect.

Despite all of this, Susan Holloway Scott thoroughly enchanted me with The King's Favorite. The King's Favorite tells the story of Nell Gwyn, a low-born woman from the dregs of London. After getting a job as an orange seller at the local playhouse, she meets Charles Hart, and, through him, works her way up to being an actress. In this new role, she captures the attention of King Charles II himself, who has always had a vice for beautiful women, despite his long-time liaison with the Countess of Castlemaine and his wife, Queen Catherine. Using only her wit, her wanton-ness and zest for life, Nell captures the heart of the King and of London, but she soon finds that the perils of court are unlike anything else that she's experienced.

Nell is painted as an incredibly lively, fun character with something of a crude mouth, but a knowledgeable sense of what really makes the world go round. From beginning to end, I was in love with Nell's character. She was well-developed and fun to read about, not to mention lively, but somewhat innocent in the world of court politics. Just like all of Charles II's other mistresses, Nell constantly risks the threat of him putting her aside while trying to keep his favor, bear him sons (even though they are illegitimate) and, most importantly, overcome the taint of her low birth.

Scott does another exquisite job of painting the bawdy court of Charles II and depicting the cutthroat, yet thrilling world of royal mistress politics. However, now that I've read about this same period four times from Scott, I feel like it's time for something else. But still, King's Favorite is another great offering from Scott. ( )
  BookAddictDiary | Mar 19, 2011 |
I stumbled upon this author while doing a review for another site. She definitely rivals Philippa Gregory in her historical fiction. Her detail and life she brings to her novels are fantastic. This story is about Nell Gwyn, the mistress to King Charles II. I thought the author put a lot of heart and soul into her characters. I could feel the love shared between the King and "his Nelly". This was a work of fiction but the fact was Nell was his mistress and this could of been what her life was like back then. I found out recently this author wrote historical romances under the name Miranda Jarret, might be worth checking out. ( )
  bratlaw | Sep 15, 2010 |
I think I might have enjoyed this book more had I read the "Author's Note" first. I felt that this first part of the book was just garbage, but since I finish everything I start, I found it much more interesting as I got into the historical part of the story. ( )
  elsyd | May 17, 2010 |
Nell Gwynn was a fascinating woman, and I find myself picking up every book about her I can find. Ms. Scott did an excellent job making Nell a fascinating, human character. ( )
  goldnyght | Oct 31, 2009 |
Nell Gwyn, all of 12 years old, is working in a brothel but instead of spending quality time with the men, she serves refreshments and sings by way of amusements. Her mother and sister both work in the trade but she refuses, believing herself to be worthy of only one, specifically King Charles II.

Eventually she becomes the mistress of a wealthy merchant and though boring, he is kind to her and rather indulgent. At her request, he takes her to plays where she falls in love with the idea of being on stage. When her agreement comes to an end, she decides to get a job in the theater not wanting to go back to the brothel. She doesn't end up on stage but gets herself inside by selling oranges where she is able to catch the eye of the king and the playhouse director. Nell eventually worms her way on stage and through her wit and ability to make people laugh, becomes one of the most famous actresses of her time. Soon after, she finds herself a mistress of the king, no longer playing on stage but in the king's bedroom instead.

I found this book on my shelf while doing a bit of weeding. I adore historical fiction but I found that I quickly tired of the court politics and Nell's incessant impersonations of every single person she didn't like. The celebrity of being an actress was interesting and the way Nell yielded her fame was amusing but when the action moved to the court I felt bored. There was a lot going on at the time --- war with the Dutch, secret alliances with the French, religious persecution --- all were mentioned in the most vague terms and never became part of the story. As Nell herself constantly reminds us, she is just the king's protestant whore and doesn't concern herself with anything more than entertaining the king she dearly loves. That's all fine, but it makes for a sort of boring book when all they do is a bit, and sometimes a lot, of swiving. (I was so waiting to use that word in a sentence!)

The love story between Nell and King Charles is touching at moments but overall I didn't feel much for the characters. Charles is a kind person and you can see why Nell loves him but it felt superficial to me. There were a few amusing scenes along the way but not enough to draw me into the book breathlessly waiting to find out what would happen next. ( )
  justabookreader | Oct 21, 2009 |
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Madam Ross's house stood off Drury Lane, a ramshackle, slatternly place whose slipshod front was a match for what went on upstairs.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 045122406X, Paperback)

The acclaimed author of Duchess and Royal Harlot returns with the unforgettable story of a king?s last love and London?s darling?
BR>Nell Gwyn has never been a lady, nor does she pretend to be. Blessed with impudent wit and saucy beauty, she swiftly rises from the poverty of Covent Garden to become a sensation in the theater. Still in her teens, she catches the eye of King Charles II, and trades the stage for Whitehall Palace?and the role of royal mistress.

Even though she delights the king, she must learn to negotiate the cutthroat royal court, where ambition and lust for power rule the hearts of all around her. For beneath her charm and light-heartedness, Nell has her own ambition?to become no less than the king?s favorite.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:34 -0400)

Rising from the poverty of Covent Garden to become the toast of the London theater, saucy beauty Nell Gwyn catches the eye of King Charles II and takes on the role of royal mistress, forcing her to negotiate the cutthroat politics and intrigues of Restoration England's royal court. By the author of Royal Harlot.… (more)

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