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Royal Pains: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad Seeds Paperback – March 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A collection of factual stories about 12 members of European royalty who represented some of the worst outcomes of inbreeding. From King John of England in the 12th century Vlad III of Wallachia (upon whom Bram Stoker based Dracula), Ivan the Terrible of Russia, and finally to Princess Margaret, younger sister of the present Queen Elizabeth II, the range of depravity described runs the gamut. There are sadists, psychopaths, and possible sex addicts, as well as those who are simply troublemakers. For those who enjoy reading about the scandals of the noble class, and want to learn more about the darker side of various royal families, this is a thoroughly enjoyable, quick read. Each person�s environment is described so that the reader enjoys a sense of what was normal for a particular time period, and for most of these royals, they were far outside their norms. For those not familiar with royal families outside of Western Europe, there are a few standouts from other areas of Europe as well. --Rebecca Gerber

About the Author

Leslie Carroll is the author of several works of historical nonfiction, women’s fiction, and, under the pen names Juliet Grey and Amanda Elyot, is a multipublished author of historical fiction. Her works include Royal Romances, Royal Pains, Royal Affairs, and Notorious Royal Marriages. She is also a classically trained professional actress with numerous portrayals of virgins, vixens, and villainesses to her credit, and is an award-winning audio book narrator.

A frequent commentator on royal romances and relationships, Leslie has been interviewed by numerous broadcast, online, and print media, including, USA Today, the Australian Broadcasting Company, NPR, Hearst Television, Inc., and she was a featured royalty historian on CBS nightly news in London during the royal wedding coverage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. She also appears as an expert on the love lives of Queen Victoria, Marie Antoinette, Catherine the Great, and Napoleon on the Proper Television series “The Secret Life of [fill in the name of famous figure]” for Canada’s History Channel. Leslie and her husband, Scott, divide their time between New York City and Washington, D.C.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: NAL (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451232216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451232212
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #354,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I used to tell people that I was born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx; but the truth is that apart from the stellar education I received at the Fieldston School in Riverdale, much of who I am was shaped by my two grandmothers, who encouraged me to follow my bliss long before it became the sort of catchphrase you find on tee-shirts and new-age tchotchkes. My East Side grandmother took me to FAO Schwarz, the New York City Ballet, and afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel, where I dreamed of becoming another Eloise. My West Side grandmother took me to the Central Park carousel and the zoo and treated me to colorful paper parasols and gummy, lukewarm pretzels from the vendors whose wares my East Side grandmother deemed too "dirty" for human consumption.

There are writers on both sides of my family, and although I always loved to write, I never anticipated that it would become my profession. I had wanted to be a ballerina; and though my club feet were corrected at birth (from the stilettos I adore now, you'd never know) and my short Achilles tendons made my toes turn in (corrected at the age of 9), I was never going to end up en pointe.

About a year later, I decided to become an actress when (if?) I grew up, and I never looked back. I majored in Theatre at Cornell University, worked in summer stock, and took classes with a couple of acknowledged masters. I performed a lot of Shakespeare and other classics in New York parks, basements, church choir lofts, and the occasional Off-Broadway theatre; then founded and ran my own nonprofit theatre company for several years. And when things got slow, and I found myself working three survival jobs simultaneously (one of them as a journalist and editor), I decided it was time to pursue an additional creative avenue.

Fast forward a decade. I'm now a multi-published author in three genres, as well as a freelance journalist. And I've also adapted a number of classic texts (IVANHOE; THE PRISONER OF ZENDA; THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL; Mark Twain's "The Diaries of Adam and Eve") for the stage. I began writing women's fiction and historical fiction simultaneously, but my first published novel was the urban romantic comedy MISS MATCH in 2002. In 2005, as I continued to write about feisty female New Yorkers, my first historical novel was published under the pen name Amanda Elyot. While keeping those literary plates spinning I made my historical nonfiction debut in the spring of 2008.

In what I laughingly refer to as my spare time, I'm still a professional actress, working when the scripts and the roles excite me.

I'm such a native New Yorker that I still don't have a driver's license, "Big Sky Country" means Central Park, and the farthest I've ever been from the Upper West Side for any great length of time was my four-year stint upstate in Ithaca, at Cornell, known for its rigorous academics and its equally harsh permafrost.

My birthday falls on the same day as two of my heroes--F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jim Henson. So I reread THE GREAT GATSBY every year and number Miss Piggy among the great actresses of her generation. My favorite color is deep hydrangea blue, and it just kills me that it doesn't look good with red hair.

I live in Manhattan with my husband Scott--who is my hero and everything I ever dreamed of. For the past couple of years we've been considering an addition to the family in the form of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By elena maria vidal on March 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
"King John was not a good man...." ~ from A.A. Milne's "King John"

With her inimitable brand of poignancy, wit and humor, Leslie Carroll entertains us once more with her newly released book "Royal Pains: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad Seeds." Once again, I looked for spare moments in which to slip away to my reading corner. Although the stories of naughty (and sometimes genuinely evil) royals are not without tragedy and pathos, Leslie's piquant observations are such that one cannot help but chuckle out loud from time to time. However, I do not recommend reading the horrific accounts of Vlad the Impaler, Ivan the Terrible, or Erzsébet Báthory before bedtime because the magnitude of their crimes might make it difficult to sleep. I suppose one should be comforted in the knowledge that there have always been psychopaths; our age is not unique in that respect. Nevertheless, in days gone by people did not try to justify or sanitize the actions of evildoers; a wicked tyrant was a wicked tyrant, and everyone knew it.

As in her previous books, Leslie skillfully pulls together reams of information into flowing narratives. Although I had encountered each of the historical personages before, in every case I found myself learning a great deal as well as garnering deeper insights into the various eras of history. The author is careful to mention the good deeds of the likes of bad King John and Ivan the Terrible; they did do a few magnanimous things for the common people, and so a balanced picture is given. As for some of the more complicated and mysterious characters such as Richard III and Crown Prince Rudolph, the evidence is presented but the reader is allowed to make up his or her own mind.

Some royals came off much better than I had expected.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mercedes J. VINE VOICE on May 4, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the third Leslie Carroll book I've read and it's definitely my least favorite. I love books about royals. I've read about a million of them. Every now and then I pick up one of these lighter novels that details the naughtiness of some of history's most famous royal members. This book has a wide didn't have to be a king or queen to have your story told here. Unfortunately, some of the people talked about were not very exciting. The chapter on Prince Albert Victor was just painful. It took me almost 2 DAYS just to finish it, it was that slow.

There were some entertaining chapters...Vlad III of Wallachia, Ivan IV and Lettice Knollys come to mind. Vlad and Ivan were truly terrible people. The things they did were absolutely horrible. By comparison, the stories of Pauline Bonaparte and Princess Margaret were positively dull. So Pauline was raging whore? That's not so bad. And Archduke Rudolf was involved in a murder-suicide (a story where pretty much everything pertaining to the actual events of the night he and his mistress died are hearsay. No one knows WHAT really happened).

Overall, this was a pretty forgettable book. I didn't hate it, but I certainly didn't love it. I found it was way too easy to set this down, and, depending on which chapter I was on, sometimes dreaded picking it back up. If you're interested in this type of reading material I recommend Behind the Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery, and Folly from Royal Britain or Royal Affairs: A Lusty Romp Through the Extramarital Adventures That Rocked the British Monarchy. These are both great books about the trouble that some royals members manage to get themselves into.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By H. Rieseck VINE VOICE on March 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
Leslie Carroll certainly knows how to pick them! The baddies in this book were certainly scandalous, grotesque, or sometimes quite crazy. There were several figures who were very familiar to me and there were a couple that I had never heard of before. Even during the chapters about those who were familiar to me, I still found something new and interesting. They also spanned many different countries - and several were from countries from the former Soviet Union which were very obscure to me.

This is a very readable non-fiction book - it essentially reads like a novel. Leslie infuses her writing with wit and commentary that makes the pages just fly by and makes you sometimes outright laugh. I totally enjoyed reading this book. One thing that can be seen as a positive or as slightly negative (depending on your viewpoint) is the frequent usage of what I will call "thesaurus words". Sometimes I was so overwhelmed by words that I really didn't know (and I like to think I have a decent vocabulary). So either prepare yourself with a dictionary on hand or be prepared to just skip over them (or maybe you have a better grip on these words than I do!).

One improvement of this book over her previous release, Notorious Royal Marriages, was that there were fewer figures (chapters) - this lead to longer chapters and more little details about each individual being examined. It gives the reader more of a chance to get to know the royal before moving on to the next.

One small complaint I do have was sometimes it felt like we strayed away from the subject of the chapter to other characters for a little too long. It was important to give historical setting and to create a well rounded feel of the scene.
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