|Expected Publication 1 March 2013 |
Harlequin (UK) Mira
The Forbidden Queen
In the aftermath of the Battle of Agincourt, Katherine de Valois is offered as a political pawn in marriage to Henry V of England. The alliance is expedient in uniting France and England, but Henry, the soldier King is more focused on the intricacies of war than on his young, desirable bride. However, Katherine’s role is to provide the stability of a male heir for the English crown, which she does in 1421 when the future Henry VI is born. Following the premature death of Henry V, Katherine is left a widow at 21, and as her tiny son becomes King in name only, Katherine finds herself once more the pawn of ambitious and malicious statesmen. By necessity, as Dowager Queen, Katherine is forced to live circumspectly, and yet her beauty and desirability continue to make her a magnet for unscrupulous matchmaking. When Katherine falls in love with her servant, Owen Tudor, the scandal is enough to shake the foundations of the nation.
The Forbidden Queen is the story of how a beautiful young woman was manipulated into a loveless marriage, and then forced to live her life in the shadow of powerful men. Katherine’s story draws you in from the very beginning as we rejoice to see her as an innocent bride and gently protective mother, but then grieve as she learns to live her life as a beautiful young widow, but what really brings the novel to life is the way in which this gentle, charismatic Queen was treated by the powerful men who were appointed as the young King’s protectors.
Anne O’Brien has a great skill with words and undoubtedly makes history come alive, so much so, you are easily transported back in time to an age when women were largely seen but not heard, and as the 21st century begins to fade and the echoes of the past resonate within your imagination, you feel the cold of the castle walls and sense Katherine’s unease as she finds herself caught between love and duty.
There is no doubt that history has much to thank Katherine de Valois for, as this largely forgotten queen was not only the mother of a King of England, but was also the grandmother of the Tudor dynasty, in this novel Anne O'Brien more than does justice to a story that needed to be told.
There is no doubt that Anne O'Brien's historical narratives just get better and better, and The Forbidden Queen, is one of my favourite of her novels to date.
My thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin (UK) for an advance ecopy of this book to read and review.