Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Victory Is Yours

"The only way to have a life without pain, my darling girl, is to also have a life without love.
And that is no life at all."
--Laura Andersen, The Virgin's War

: Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 384
Publication Date: July 12th, 2016
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Previous Books in Series: The Virgin's Daughter & The Virgin's Spy
Previous Books by Author: The Boleyn King & The Boleyn Deceit & The Boleyn Reckoning
Find on: Goodreads | Amazon

My Thoughts
The Belle
If you've been here before then it is no secret the deep love I have for Laura Andersen's books. If you're new, then you're about to get an earful. The Virgin's War is the third and final book in The Tudor Legacy series, companion series to The Boleyn King series with the generation before.


The Virgin's War takes place about a year and a half after The Virgin's Spy ends and our characters are all making progress in their respective roles. Stephen and Kit are still in France with Renaud and Felix. Anabel, Kit and Pippa are in the North rallying support and being a face of the monarchy. Elizabeth is in London. And Minuette and Dominic, per usual, are doing whatever the fuck they want. God, I love them so much. Okay, moving on.

While I won't give away plot spoilers, I will tell you that the direction the plot goes, with all our characters, was organic, exciting, and surprising. Not surprising in a bad way! It was just one of those books that I had actually no idea what was going to happen and I love that. The possibilities are endless and I have 100% trust and confidence in Laura's writing to tell the perfect story. And she did. She so did.

The plot weaves and turns, bobs and ducks around all impending obstacles. There were moments when I thought all was lost and moments when I thought, there is no way they can get out of this. The answer? When you're dealing with the Tudor women, don't ever count them out. The tension of England and Spain and Scotland and Ireland is tight. The war is coming and who will end up the victor is all in the planning and trying to stay five steps ahead of the enemy. The talks of war and strategy was brilliant. Ok, before I give anything away, I'm done with the plot but know it's AMAZING!

The characters...oh, my beloved Courtenay and Tudor family. I think I said this when I reviewed The Virgin's Daughter that I was a little nervous to start the new book because I loved the characters of The Boleyn King series so much that I was convinced there was no way I could love people more than I loved Minuette and Dominic...I said I was wrong then and I'll say I'm wrong now. I was wrong. While Minuette and Dom will forever hold a special place in my heart, their children and their friends have equally wormed their way into my soul. I was having a little deja vu while reading The Virgin's War late into the night, alone on the couch, and crying my eyes out. Rewind to the final book of the previous series, The Boleyn Reckoning, and it was the same situation. Laura has Tudor magic in her mind and fingertips that she writes characters that are so real and complex and true, that I can't help but feel so attached to them and their well-being. It is a special skill to be able to write characters that people can connect to on such a deep level.

With that said, let me break some of them down. Elizabeth impressed me most in this book. Depending on the POV, I have mixed thoughts on Queen Elizabeth. I thought her vanity and pride played a major role in the last two books but this book I felt THE Queen Elizabeth boss lady emerge. There is a moment in this book that gave me chills for so many reasons and I was blown away by how Laura shaped this monarch so many people know of and gave it her own twist.

Stephen is not the same man we leave him as in The Virgin's Spy. He is wiser having been through so much in the last few years. And he is free. His demons will never be gone but he has learned to work through them both on his own and for other reasons.

Pippa, to peripherally quote the author herself, is a beacon of light. She is strength personified in a quiet stronghold that outlasts any loud verbal stance. She is selfless to a fault and her journey and character growth is on another level to me.

Kit is also on another level of his growth. Gone is the brash, loud, act before he thinks young man and in his place is a strong, confident, pick your battles man. Kit surprised me in the best way because we really get to see his maturity grow over the years.

Lucette has her own personal battles to work through not to mention an unexpected visitor. Her intelligence is a major part of the book and I love seeing a woman play such a vital role in the war efforts.

Anabel...Where do I begin with Anabel? Like Kit, her journey from intelligent if not emotional young woman to a fierce future Queen is stunning. Absolutely stunning. I loved these characters from the beginning but watching them grow up and mature into the confident leaders of their country is nothing short of phenomenal. Anabel is a light in her country, a figure of hope and strength for future peace. Her actions and decisions were some of my favorite parts of the book.

Dominic and Minuette are ever-present and the roles they play between parents and subjects is always a super interesting dynamic. I love these two so much, mostly because they really give zero fucks what people think and do what they want for their family and friends.

While I clearly wrote a lot, I really have almost no words to accurately describe all the feelings I have. I have loved these characters both old and new since their inception in The Boleyn King and, as with real life, my feelings have grown with each book. The Tudor Legacy series was a surprise series I never expected to get and I bow down and pledge fealty to the Queen of these books, Laura Andersen. Words cannot convey how much I love her writing, her attention to detail, her deep and complex characterization of SO MANY beloved characters, her abundant knowledge and research to write these books, and the very clear love she has for her characters and this time period. I seriously feel blessed to have the chance to have met these characters and read her words. They are nothing short of brilliant.

Although, I'm just a bit upset that I bought a Spanish soccer jersey a few months ago when I was in Spain and I no longer think I can wear it in good conscious. I'll probably have to burn it. Le sigh.

If you love Tudor England, stunning characterizations, and intricate plots...this book is for you.

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