Monday, November 2, 2015

Following Your Heart In A World of Deception

"I will always come back for you, mi corazon."
--Laura Andersen, The Virgin's Spy
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction, Alternate History
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 336
Publication Date: November 10th, 2015
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Previous Books in SeriesThe Virgin's Daughter
Previous Books in Companion Preceding Series: The Boleyn King & The Boleyn Deceit & The Boleyn Reckoning
Goodreads Description

For those who just can’t get enough of the scandalous Tudors, the author of the popular Boleyn King series offers the second in an enthralling new saga of the royal family, set in Elizabethan England. Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir.

This captivating continuation of her award-winning Boleyn King trilogy breathes immerses the reader in the dazzling Tudor court. Realistic period-details, genuine historical figures, and a stunning sense of atmosphere add depth and complexity to the seduction and glamour of the Tudor court in this spellbinding and imaginative sequel to The Virgin’s Daughter.
Most of you know my absolute obsession I have with these books because, duh, Anne Bolyen. I was extremely fortunate (re: lucky/thankful as a mother fucker who may or may not have danced around her living room upon receiving this mail) to receive THE VIRGIN'S SPY about 5 months before publication. What did I do? The only logical thing, of course. I dropped everything I was doing, re-read the entire Boleyn King series as well as the previous Tudor Legacy novel in prep for this book. I think we can all agree that was really the only option. So let's move on. It was a great few days of reading might I add.


So THE VIRGIN'S SPY picks up a short while where we leave THE VIRGIN'S DAUGHTER. Lucette and Julien are getting married--*squee!!!!*--but all is not settled with our other favorite players. Anabel continues to try and assert her independence and, like her mother before her, she really grows in this second book. I thought that she really started to see the bigger picture and manipulated as she could to get her way for what she thought best for her. Her options are obviously limited in that she is Princess but her mother is Queen Elizabeth. Y'all know your history? No? She's not one to mess with. While she couldn't always do what she wanted, my favorite part of her growth was that she was able to see the flaws of the ruling around her. Her mother is brilliant, I'm not debating that, but we all have flaws that we let dictate our decisions and Elizabeth is not exempt from this. Anabel knows her duty but also starts to see how she wants to run things. Who run the world? Girls.

Where you find Anabel, Pippa is not too far. However, this book brings Pippa more independence and this girl has some secretive problems she's not telling anyone about. It worries me. I love Pippa. She is passionate and sensitive beneath that ethereal demeanor and I want her to be okay. She is one of those people who bears the weight of the world on her shoulders and never asks for assistance. Things are brewing with her that we as readers still do not know but it all is going to come to a head in the final book. Oh-em-gee I cannot wait.

While we have an alternate history going down, some things remain constant. The war in Ireland is bloody and brutal and my *cough our cough* boy Stephen is right in the thick of it. Stephen many beautiful things. His demeanor is similar to that of Dominic but he has this fire that can only be Minuette. Stephen is a man you want on your side. He is loyal, steadfast, and he does what is right rather than what is easy. And his choices are anything but easy. If any one character takes a more prominent lead role in this book I think it's Stephen. He goes through a lot of change and my heart breaks for him at so many moments. He has moments of triumph as well but if there is one single characters I need to be okay and happy at the end of this, it's Stephen. He is so strong, and like Pippa, thinks he alone has to solve all of life's problems. And when he doesn't live up to his own expectations? Well...prepare to shed a few I'm doing right now as I write this review. My heart is invested, you guys!

Speaking of Stephen, the threat of Ireland is a constant like I said. Much plot happens in this land of greenery and I loved this aspect. I personally did not know any of this conflict so it was a fantastic change of scenery and pace from what we are used to in previous books. Kit also plays a role in Ireland as well as abroad in Spain and hot damn you guys, this kid can bring the swoon, too. He is so very clearly a child of the love Minuette and Dominic share. He struggles with his feelings for Anabel and he is so damn adorable about it I wanna jump in the book and hug him.

Ok, I realize I just flailed about all the characters but I also talked about plot, too so it's a fairly decent review so far, right? Ok, fine. I suck but I love these people!! These books are my people, okay!?! Ok...moving on. The plot in itself moves steadily and takes us to Ireland and Spain, where Anabel's father and Elizabeth's ex-husband Philip is causing his own mischief with Mary, former Queen-ish of Scots. This part of the story is so deliciously intriguing to me. I'm anxious and excited to see how this plays out!

The writing of Laura Andersen continues to impress me and she just knows how to write historical fiction. There is that fantastic balance of history and character development with a huge side helping of character investment. You want to root for these people and see them succeed. Your emotions are completely tied into their feelings and I think that is so very hard to do with historical fiction. She has this way of writing that tugs at your heart strings--yes, I cried multiple times--but at the same time you trust in her writing and her vision that it is all worth the pain in the end. Same goes for The Boleyn King series and I have great feelings for the final book of this series. I cannot wait!!

The fact that I have to wait months for the next book is not cool...but ya know...I get it.

If you love the Tudors, strong characterization, and historical fiction in general...this book's for you.

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