Series: Courtly Love, #2
Release Date: March 19, 2018
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
The Elizabethan era is by far my favorite HR sub-genre, unfortunately Elizabethan era books are few and far between, so I was delighted to see this book listed on NetGalley and while I had never read anything by this author, I was excited to dive into the glittery, treacherous world of Queen Elizabeth’s court and I am happy to say Ms. Spock did not disappoint!
This a complex tale of the fictional Mary Montgomery and Sir Charles Fitzjohn, set among the very real members of Queen Elizabeth’s court. Mary was introduced in the first book Courtly Pleasures (which I haven’t read, but will be soon!) as a member of Frances LeSieur’s household. Mary has been invited to stay for the Christmastide festivities by her dear friend Anne, Countess of Oxford, to whom she was a companion for many years until she was sent home ruined and heartbroken, thanks to Anne’s husband Edward, Earl of Oxford. But even with the shadow of Oxford hanging over her, Mary looks forward to spending time with Anne and enjoying all the revelry the court has to offer before she returns to her duties with the LeSieurs.
She meets Charles the first night due to the interference of her friend Blanche Parry, they immediately feel a connection and even though Mary believes she is not fit to marry, she is delighted to flirt and dally with Sir Charles. She knows that nothing can come of the flirtation, but she is determined to squeeze every minute of joy she can get out of her time at court.
Charles is a guardsman to the Queen and a bastard by birth, in this era illegitimate children had many limitations, Charles is luckier than most, his father raised him and gave him his name, but that doesn’t change the fact that he cannot own land or marry without special permission. Something he never gave a second thought about until he met Mary.
When Mary unwittingly becomes the center of scandal, Charles will do anything to help her clear her name. But for Mary, things go from bad to worse and any dreams of a happy life seemly disappear. She begins to realize for the first time that she does have choices and support comes from the most unlikely of sources. And when she is at her lowest, she is given opportunities that exceed any hopes and dreams she has ever had.
Can these two find a happy ever after? Or will secrets and vicious gossip tear them apart forever?
I loved this book, it is well written, flows perfectly, has steamy love scenes, lots of intrigue, a delightful blend of fact and fiction, secrets, forbidden desires and finally a very sweet HEA with a epilogue! This is the second book in the series, but I had no problems reading this book as a stand alone (although, I will be going back and reading the first book!!!) The only reason I didn’t give this book 5 stars is because there was a bit more modern verbiage than I would have liked and a few typos (which may be corrected by publication). But even with those very minor issues, I highly recommend this book and will be looking forward to reading more by this author!!
*I am voluntarily reviewing an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*