"I don't know if I'm brave enough for this--
Then I shall be brave enough for both of us."
Then I shall be brave enough for both of us."
--Laura Andersen, The Virgin's Daughter
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May 19th, 2015
Source: eARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review
If you’ve been here before, you might know my intense, deep love for The Boleyn King series. Like…deep, deep, soul kind of love. I did an entire week of Book Pushin’ on it--you can find my links here and Laura interview here and Lit in Lyrics here and fashion here. Not only is the premise of that series brilliant, if Anne Boleyn had a son what would an alternate history of it be? I mean, c’mon! How amazing is that! Y’all know Anne Boleyn is my homegirl so if the premise didn’t get to me, the characters definitely did. BUT this is not a posthumous review of The Boleyn King…which I could easily do. THIS review is about the continuation/spin-off of the series where Elizabeth is not the virgin queen, she has a daughter with her husband the King of Spain. Hello, epic, nice to see you again.
SPOILERS FROM THE BOLEYN KING TRILOGY—READ AT YOUR OWN RISK
I won't lie, I was nervous before starting because I loved TBK characters SO FREAKING MUCH and I was all, what if I don’t connect as much? What will I do?! Never fear, Laura is here. Andersen’s characterization writing is amazing. I head tilted when I realized from TBK, there are really only 2 characters I ride and die for…and after this first book there are at least 7 characters (not including the ones from the previous books) that I am fully invested in. THAT IS A LOT! The writing is so complex and intricate and because she’s rewriting history, you have no idea what is going to happen, what plots come to pass, who to trust, it’s just crazy! I found myself so anxious while reading-nothing new there with these books-because I wanted so badly to have certain things work out but you knew the implosion of circumstances was about to happen and there was nothing you could do to stop it.
I’ll say this right off the bat because the first 3 pages took me 10 minutes to get through. Why? Because we get a look into the lives of our beloved characters, Minuette and Dominic and Renaud, immediately. I swooned and felt so happy I actually clutched my chest and gasped and re-read the pages over and over. So much happiness. I can’t even tell you. Okay, moving on.
The plot is…intricate, to say the least. Spies are everywhere, plots are thick, assassination attempts are everywhere, and at the center of it all is love. Love is a common thread among these characters whether they know it or not. The Courtenay family (eep!!) has many a members who are deep into the thick of politics and do their best to keep a poker face. Lucette, the eldest daughter of Minuette and Dominic, is the most major character who has been assigned to spy on a family of close friends to determine if a plot is in the midst. There, she encounters two French brothers….oh, sorry, I zoned out and daydreamed about French men, my bad, I’m back…le sigh…one of whom she believes is in on the plot and the other who she begrudgingly starts to have feelings for. And the thing of it is, you just don’t know who to trust. Thus comes anxious and hurried reading trying to get to the bottom of it. And that’s all I’ll say about that. In regards to Lucette—love love loved her. She is so smart and clever and sassy. She says what’s on her mind and doesn’t let her sex dictate her place. Her mind can hold its own with the best of them and I loved that she wanted to be desired for her mind as well as her looks. Her task is not an easy one and she handled it with both feeling and objectivity and did what she had to do to succeed.
In addition to the central plot with Lucette, we meet Anabel—Elizabeth’s daughter and future Queen of England. Anabel will be seeing her father, King of Spain, soon and marriage discussions are going to happen. She is unsure of what she wants and knows too well that her feelings will not come into play at all. This broke my heart. This poor young girl hardly even knows her own feelings about anything because she has been trained not to feel emotional about anything, only logical analysis. I want to feel for Anabel a little more but girlfriend doesn’t even know what she wants so I’m hoping to see her let loose a little in further books. Anabel is BFFs with Kit and Pippa, twins of Minuette and Dom. LOVED Pippa, I really cannot wait to see more of her and I’m crossing my fingers she gets a love story in there somewhere. The eldest brother Stephen is an understated but powerful characters. He is charged with guarding Mary, Queen of Scots and yeah…amazing things happen with that. He is so cool.
What else, what else? OH! DUH! THE SWOON! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t swoon or get a stupid grin on my face whenever Dom was in a scene. Like…I just found myself smiling like an idiot because so much love for him it isn’t even funny. And we get to see him be a father!? Hello, sliver fox, have we met? Renaud was pretty sexy too in an older man way…rawr. I loved seeing the characters I've come to know and love in an entirely different role. It was just freaking awesome. I'll take any chance I can get for more time with Minuette and Dom. BUT the young buck on the scene for me is Julien. Le freaking sigh. There is a scene at the end that brough on double swoon and I didn’t think my heart could take it. Julien is such a complicated man and so pure of heart in a way he doesn’t even realize. His guilt and agony of regret tore at my heart. His character arc was my favorite because he goes through so much. I cannot wait to see more of him as well.
Ok, I know that was a big explosion of spaz and feels but it’s hard to put into words how intricate and complex this book was. So much is going on, so much shit goes down, and so much swoon happens. I loved this book and I cannot wait to see where the story goes from here!