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Secrets of the Tudor Court: By Royal Decree Paperback – December 14, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Secrets of the Tudor Court
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (December 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439177813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439177815
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,200,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Emerson's third in her series (after Between Two Queens) explores the tempestuous world of the Tudor court in the sunset of Henry VIII's reign. Married to his sixth wife, Kathryn Parr, many years his junior, Henry still has an eye for Elizabeth Brooke, but luckily for her, only briefly, since Elizabeth's in love with Parr's brother, Will, who loves her but already has a wife. Henry deems divorce acceptable for himself but is loathe to grant it for others. After Henry dies, his heir, Edward, allows the couple to marry. Happy for a while, Will and Elizabeth are upended by the unexpected death of the young king and the political turmoil that follows. As Catholic Mary's rule tears them apart, they must decide how much they are willing to risk for love and country. Parr is a drab hero, but Elizabeth's fierce loyalty to him, against all odds, makes the story appealing. The supporting characters are not given enough play, especially the colorful Tom Seymour and Thomas Wyatt. While not Emerson's best, this is a solid historical with a refreshingly willful, sexually liberated heroine (Dec.)
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From Booklist

Bess Brooke is sent to the court of King Henry VIII, where she momentarily captures the monarch’s attention. For a young woman, the aging, bloated king is repugnant, so she is relieved when he looks elsewhere for his next wife. However, life at court is very appealing, and she is grateful to become a lady-in-waiting, thanks to her mother’s connections. There she meets William Parr, the new queen’s brother. As a divorced man, Will has nothing to offer a virtuous woman until his former wife dies because only the king can remarry if the former spouse is still living. Bess tries to stay away even as her heart leads her to Will. Meandering their way through the maze of court life, Will and Bess strive for happiness, battling the whims of Henry VIII, King Edward, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and all who hope to gain power at their expense. Emerson captures the pageantry and the politics of the Tudor court, portraying real-life characters who negotiated turbulent times, and giving historical-fiction fans a first-rate read. --Patty Engelmann

More About the Author

Kate Emerson was born in Liberty, New York and recieved an A.B. from Bates College and an MA from Old Dominion University. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and other professional organizations. She currently lives in Maine.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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In the end, this is a light easy read and a good book, just not a great one.
Misfit
I wanted to read about Will and Bess during Elizabeth's reign, but I guess once she took the throne they lived a pretty nondescript life at court.
Mercedes J.
I do enjoy reading historical novels which are based on facts and well researched.
Helen Chaney

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mercedes J. TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The further I get into this series, the more I enjoy it! I wasn't all that in love with the first book, 'Pleasure Palace', but I really enjoyed the second, 'Between Two Queens'. This book I enjoyed even more! I flew through it in just a couple days and hated having to put it down. There are SO many books out about the Tudor Court and the influential people that populated it, and some of them are great, while many are just historical gossip mags dressed up as Historical Fiction. Ms. Emerson does a great job though of bringing her characters (who were very real people) back to life and making you feel for them.

I've come across Elizabeth Brook's name before, but just as a quick mention. She's certainly not anyone who stands out from the Tudor period, and most authors just pass right over her, if she's even mentioned at all. Ms. Emerson though shows us what an interesting life Bess Brook lead, and that it was possible for true love to overcome in Tudor England...a place where gentle-born women must marry the men their fathers choose for them. Bess refused to do that and her and William Parr overcame so many obstacles to be together. Even when Queen Mary Tudor pulled them apart, they managed to make it through her reign to the ascension of Elizabeth I, who allowed them to be together as they should.

I was so disappointed when this book ended. I was hoping for it to just keep going. I wanted to read about Will and Bess during Elizabeth's reign, but I guess once she took the throne they lived a pretty nondescript life at court. Bess only lived another 7 years after the end of the book, succumbing to breast cancer, but I would have loved to read about her final years with Will.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stacie on January 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
This was not a bad book, it just left me with a bland feeling when I closed the cover. The novel chronicles the life of Elizabeth "Bess" Brooke, a young woman brought to the court of Henry VIII, who was in the market for a new wife after Katherine Howard's execution. Fortunately for Bess, she was not chosen as the sixth wife. She did, however, catch the eye of nobleman, William Parr, brother to Katheryn Parr, who was chosen as the new Queen. The romance between Will and Bess was not without its share of obstacles, and while I think their story propelling enough to be novelized, I never connected with Bess or Will in a way that made me truly care about them or their fate.

I would like to point out that unlike any other historical fiction Tudor book I've read, this novel offered a very sympathetic view of the Dudley family. The Dudleys play a prominent part in the life of Bess Brooke. When I think of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, I immediately think of a cold, selfish man whose actions caused or hastened the death of several other people. Other books paint Northumberland as a "murderer" who poisoned young King Edward VI, as well as being the main instigator in the execution of the Duke of Somerset, Edward Seymour, King Edward's former Lord Protector. He is also often credited for being the "mastermind" of marrying his son to Lady Jane Grey and championing her as the successor to the throne at King Edward's death. In this book "Bess" was actually the one that suggested the marriage between Dudley's son and Lady Jane and that despite rumors, John Dudley had not poisoned King Edward. This novel sheds a very different view on the Dudleys, particularly Northumberland, however, it just didn't feel authentic to me.

I've read the first two books in the series and if my memory serves me, they were okay but forgettable. I'd say the same for this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cari L Colvin on April 28, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
kind a drag on kinda book but it did ketch my attention in some points wish it did in more poarts tho
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Misfit TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
***Those not familiar with Tudor history might consider this review a bit spoilerish. Consider yourself warned**

The story begins as Elizabeth (Bess) Brooke is one of a large party of eligible noblewomen invited to dine with Henry VIII so he can peruse them and pick his next bride. Luckily for Bess she's passed over for Kathryn Parr, who ends up as wife #6. Bess comes to court and ultimately meets and falls in love with Queen Kathryn's brother William Parr, but there's a hitch. William was given a divorce from his first wife for being unfaithful, but he's not allowed to remarry until she kicks the bucket and their only hope is a "Royal Decree" from the King.

When Henry dies, his son Edward is crowned king and William curries favor with Edward and his guardians (first Edward Seymour, then John Dudley), always hoping to gain that "Royal Decree" allowing him to marry Bess. The Princess Elizabeth is given into Kathryn's care and Bess also joins her household in the country. Edward, never the healthy one, dies and with no male heir to follow him England is divided over the choices left - should they support Mary and face a return to Catholicism, or the Lady Jane Grey? And if William supports the wrong party, their hopes for a "Royal Decree" allowing them to wed might be dashed forever...

Sounds like all the material one needs for a fat juicy novel no? Unfortunately, Emerson is not quite up to giving Bess and William the treatment their story really deserves. Too much time is spent with Bess and William mooning over each other as Henry's court flits from one palace to the next, and not enough on the latter part of their lives as they live in terror of loosing one's head during Mary's reign.
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