STORY: For years, and throughout her entire educational studies, Elin Von Snakenborg prepares for her trip with the Swedish Princess Cecilia to the English shores to visit Queen Elizabeth. The woman the Swedish monarchy once believes may marry their king. As one of Cecilia’s ladies-in-waiting, Elin never expects acceptance in the Queen’s court. Her knowledge of essential oils and herbs interests Elizabeth, and Elin immediately captures the fancy of the kindhearted, older and widowed Lord Northampton, a man who owes his life to Elizabeth. Choosing to remain in England transforms Elin into Helena, a true Englishwoman as she prepares for a wedding, and finding her place in Elizabeth’s court but where does her heart truly lie…
What I Like
Conflicted and curious are the two best words I’d use to sum up this book. The first describes how I feel at the end, the latter prior to reading this one. Praised for her skill, and as I did see films and television shows about the rise and fall of the Tudor family, this did naturally interest me. This, the third book is set in the court of Elizabeth I (called the “virgin queen”), deals largely in “behind-the-scenes” details of how she runs her court. Between the costumes and the unique descriptions of the era, it’s an interesting read.
There are some interesting looks at the struggle of power between Elizabeth and her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, which ends in tragedy. Then Sandra explores the relationship between Elizabeth and her “love,” Robert Dudley. I don’t know how much of this romantic liaison (here) is historical fact or creative fiction. Either way, the end of Elizabeth’s life is a sad one, and one the author writes and handles well.
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As a fictional character in a historically accurate world, one character I like is Helena. She’s sympathetic, and yet this doesn’t stop her from forging life in the unfamiliar. She isn’t a “spunky” heroine so much as loyal and dutiful to the crown but her marriages were, by contrast to the darker historic facts, special. Impressive is the weaving of two sweet love stories, and the tenderness each respective person shows to other person. Helena’s first blush with love is all it should be; even her shift of feelings towards William is realistic as is Thomas’ jealously later on. In the first three-fourths of the book, these are themes that hold up. However in the last vestiges of the book, this drops in an unceremonious way.
What I Don’t Like
Hurrying through what should be the formative years of Helena seems an unnecessary element. Helping to further the plot is one thing, passing eight years between a space of eight chapters is another. Some single chapters even buzz pass time in an alarming rate. This use of time reads as if the story rushes past what could have be key changes in the story, either by creating conflict or important “game-changers.”
I cannot honestly say that I love this book. By no means is it a bad read, just not one I’ll re-read. To be fair, I think part of this is because it seems “rushed.” The most interest I have is the romantic liaisons of Helena and Thomas, more so than that of Elizabeth’s continuing political struggles of power. Perhaps this is because the book is written from Helena’s perspective and so, it slights her to focus on Elizabeth’s reign or maybe it’s nothing more than being weary of Elizabeth’s trials. To be fair, this era is not a favorite either. Between that and my opinion biased by cinema, I’m probably less enthused by this book as a work of fiction and read it more as a “duty” and this isn’t what I want from reading. However, I’d wager any fans of Sandra’s prior two books will enjoy this one.
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Author: Sandra Byrd
Publisher: Howard books
Publication Date: 2013
Series: “Ladies in Waiting” (book three)
Genre: Christian Fiction; Young Adult, Teen, Series, Historical
Shop the Book: Bookshop.org | Goodreads
Rating: 3 out of 5
With thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes