Basing her gripping tale on the life of the real Jane Popyncourt, gifted author Kate Emerson brings the Tudor monarchs, their family, and their courtiers to brilliant life in this vibrant novel.
Beautiful. Seductive. Innocent. Jane Popyncourt was brought to the court as a child to be ward of the king and a companion to his daughters—the princesses Margaret and Mary. With no money of her own, Jane could not hope for a powerful marriage, or perhaps even marriage at all. But as she grows into a lovely young woman, she still receives flattering attention from the virile young men flocking to serve the handsome new king, Henry VIII, who has recently married Catherine of Aragon. Then a dashing French prisoner of war, cousin to the king of France, is brought to London, and Jane finds she cannot help giving some of her heart—and more—to a man she can never marry. But the Tudor court is filled with dangers as well as seductions, and there are mysteries surrounding Jane’s birth that have made her deadly enemies. Can she cultivate her beauty and her amorous wiles to guide her along a perilous path and bring her at last to happiness?
In Emerson's series debut, Jane Popyncourt appears at the court of Henry VII after fleeing France with her mother for reasons unknown to her. She grows up favored, a companion to the princesses and well-situated when Henry VIII comes to power. Her mother dies before she can tell Jane about her past but the opportunity to learn what happened in France appears with the arrival of a prisoner of war, the duke of Longueville. He and Jane become lovers, although her heart is drawn to his bastard half-brother Guy. Commanded to use her relationship with the duke to spy for King Henry, she starts to unravel the truth of her own true identity and exodus from France. Unusual for period fiction, Jane Popyncourt is not the idealistically virginal heroine but a skillful player in the intrigues of the Tudor court, who manages to get what she wants without selling too much of herself in the bargain. It is this heroine that separates this book from the pack. The characters are subtle and well-drawn, though the book is not as sexy as readers might hope.
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I'm a Tudor fanatic and this book was excellent, so far I've read it twice