Author: Laura Andersen
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre(s): historical fiction, alternative history, historical romance
Part of a Series: Yes, 1st book
Why I read it: I saw it at Romantic Historical Lovers and thought the summary looked interesting
Summary: In “The Boleyn King,” Anne Boleyn gives birth to Henry’s long awaited son—William—and lives. Seventeen years later, William is on the precipice of his majority and itching to break free from his regency. When the makings of a plot against him start up, he turns to the three people he trusts most—his sister Elizabeth and their friends Dominic and Minuette. While Elizabeth flirts with the married Robert Dudley, Dominic and Minuette grow closer. But when William falls in love with Minuette, will their friendship be ruined?
Review: I debated my rating for this. But after double checking my rating guide, I decided to go with this one.
The main problem I have with this novel is the main character—which despite my summary is not William. It’s Minuette. And she’s a Mary Sue with no redeeming qualities in my eyes. She’s close with the king and his sister, once charmed King Henry and made him ignore Elizabeth, does a lot which get a good-natured headshake where others would get scolded (though she mentions Dominic scolding her, it doesn’t come across that way), and every man wants her. Her parts of the story tended to drag for me. The one interesting bit was hints of something dark happening to Minuette as a child but it was a bust.
My favorite character was Elizabeth but she wasn’t used as much. I liked her flirtation and relationship with Robert Dudley, the two characters had great chemistry together. She also seemed the most competent at ruling and trying to figure out the conspiracies swirling around court. And I felt bad for Elizabeth—she seemed overshadowed by the author’s pet, Minuette.
After Elizabeth, my second favorite was Dominic. He flirted a bit too close toward Gary Studom but something kept him from going over completely. I’m still unable to pinpoint what. Perhaps it was his charisma. Perhaps it was the writing. Perhaps it was just the character. But it was something. He’s a well trained soldier and a good friend to the king. He’s sensible yet scared of becoming his father—a passionate man who did not care who he hurt to get what he wanted. Now that’s some baggage. And Andersen lets some of it peak out every so often.
Then there’s William, the Boleyn King. He’s a good mixture of Anne and Henry. Intelligent, cunning, impatient, passionate, etc. But Andersen is a bit inconsistent with him. One chapter, he is plotting to chose who he marries, the next, he is okay with marrying for political reasons and taking mistresses. And then a half book later, he wants to chose who he marries again. And he chooses Minuette. I’m still baffled why, but then again I still don’t care for her.
The main theme of the book seems to be “like father, like son” Or “like mother, like daughter” in Minuette’s case. William seems to be following in his father’s steps as is Dominic. And like her mother, Minuette is torn between duty and love. It is good even if William was inconsistent.
What about the alternate history aspect? It’s pretty good though there were a few things I felt the author overlooked. Like Jane Seymour and Katherine Howard, Henry’s wives in real life. Seymour is mentioned in the prologue and never heard about again. And the Howard family plays a large role in this story and Katherine is not mentioned at all. It’s a bit glaring or at least it was to me.
In my opinion, the intrigue is more engaging than the romance. And I wish there had been more focus on the intrigue—there were periods where nothing was done on that front. Of course, once again, I dislike a main part of the romances (Minuette) so I may just be biased.
Bottom line: An interesting idea but it’s main character is lacking.
Sex: Mentions of sex but nothing too graphic.
If you could change one thing in history, what would it be?