Requesting a digital copy of The Queen’s Lady by Eve Edwards from the publisher was a departure for me. It didn’t appear to be the kind of novel I normally read but I had been reading so many dark and twisty novels recently that I decided I needed to mix it up a bit.
The Queen’s Lady is Book #2 in The Lacey Chronicles; however, I found it worked quite well as a stand-alone novel. I was also pleasantly surprised because it was not only a lot of fun to read but it had a very nice plot.
Below is the book trailer for the English publication of The Queen’s Lady. I like this trailer much better than the U.S. version.
In 1580’s England, women were basically the possessions of their families. Their marriages were arranged and used to better the family’s circumstances with often little regard for whether husband and wife were a good match or even born within the same generation.
Lady Jane Rievaulx’ father and brothers, Lord Perceval and his sons, tried to marry her off to the oldest Lacey brother and heir, Will; however, she knew that her friend, Ellie, loved him. Since Jane loved his brother James, she wiggled her way out of that marriage. Doing so, however, took a horrible toll on her relationship with the entire Lacey family and none of them would have anything to do with her. James, in particular, she believes despises her.
“Jane had been sent in disgrace to the Perceval family seat at Stafford Grange, North Yorkshire, and left there ‘to rot on the moors,’ as her father, the Earl of Wetherby, had so bluntly put it. He had imposed a regimen of prayer and fasting, combined with corporal punishment to bend her rebellious flesh to his will…”
To escape her family’s punishment for not marrying Will, Lady Jane marries the seventy-year-old Jonas Paton, Marquee of Rievaulx. She is very grateful for his kind rescue, and loves him. Unfortunately he dies only six months after their marriage. While on his death bed, he cautions her about protecting herself from her family and his predatory heirs for he fears she will be in danger again once he’s gone.
“It was a sad fate to have only three people in the world who really cared about her….Worse was the fact that the first was denied her after marrying a man Jane had so abruptly jilted; the second was far away, finishing her a suit of mourning clothes; and the third lay dying in the chamber next door.”
As a new widow, she follows her late husband’s advice and begins service to Queen Elizabeth. Lady Jane is unsure what her future will hold but at least she hopes she will be safe from her father and brothers, and Paton’s heirs, for the time being since serving the Queen should offer at least some protection.
James is back from fighting in the wars and has become a very angry, bitter, and troubled soul. He sees himself as a failure because he is so troubled by what he saw and because he hated the senseless killing that seemed to be part of this war. He learns from Will that Sir Walter Raleigh plans to launch an expedition to the Americas to determine if a British colony is feasible (in what will later become North Carolina). At his brother’s suggestion, James becomes part of that expedition. He really doesn’t care whether he survives the mission or not at this point.
“Raleigh’s expression brightened, as he was quick to understand the hit. ‘Ah, you were a scout. Excellent. You will know how to survive in a land held by hostile forces. We have need of trackers too. You can do this?’
‘I have some talent for it, I think.’
‘Good. You may turn out to be a more valuable investment than your brother’s stake in this affair.’
‘I’ll endeavor to be of use,’ James said drily.”
Although James and Lady Jane meet at court, he refuses to have anything to do with her. He doesn’t think he has anything to offer her in his current state. She believes he has never forgiven her for the way she treated his family. What a mess! To make things even worse, her family and Paton’s heirs have found her at court and will stop at nothing to get what they want. Can she survive the hatred directed at her by the Patron heirs while preventing herself from being bartered off like chattel?
Lady Jane and James seem to be quintessential star-crossed lovers. Lady Jane is a very independent young woman for her time and pays the horrible price her society exacts for her intelligence, independence, and determination. I admired her spunk and her kick-butt attitude. This is a woman who knows her own mind – no wilting violet here, thank you very much. Underneath what would now undoubtedly be called post-traumatic-shock disorder, James is a wonderful guy who everyone is very concerned about, with good cause. I just kept wanting him to snap out of it already!
For those of you who’ve read Book #1 of The Lacey Chronicles, you’ll be happy to know that we get to see how well Will and Ellie are suited as a couple and the happy addition to their family. And there’s another romance that you’ll love in this novel that I’m not going to tell you about, except to say it involves Jane’s friend Milly. Just take it from me that you’ll laugh a lot and get a bit teary-eyed over this one.
I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed The Queen’s Lady. Eve Edwards has done an excellent job with this historical romance. It feels authentic in many ways. Lady Jane may be a bit too 21st century like for a woman during that period; however, girls and women need to see more smart, kick-butt women and fewer victims, so that’s fine with me. If you like historical romances then I strongly suspect you’re going to love this one! And once you do, you’ll probably find you love these characters so much that you’ll also want to read Book #1, The Other Countess.
Can’t wait to read it?
The Queen’s Lady (The Lacey Chronicles #2) was published on April 10, 2012, so it should be available from your favorite bookseller below. Just click the button to go there to get it.
I’d love to get your comments on The Queen’s Lady, Eve Edwards or her other work, and/or this review.
If you like this review, please “like” it, +1 it, and share it with your friends!