Review of “Jane the Quene” (The Seymour Saga #1) by Janet Wertman

Wertman, Janet. Jane the Quene. [Place of publication not identified: Janet Wertman, 2016. 

Paperback | $11.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0997133813 | 272 pages | Historical Fiction

4.5 stars

I recently picked up the Jane the Quene to further indulge my inner Tudor fangirl/nerd, which is something I don’t do often enough, especially given how much is out there about them in both historical fiction and non-fiction. I also liked that it was one of the few books I’ve seen that focused on Jane Seymour as a central character, with the promise of delving more into her family in the decades following in the next couple books, a prospect that intrigues me, given how often they are relegated to the roles of supporting players.

While a lot of the elements are things we’ve seen before, it’s not really a fault of Wertman herself, given that she is working with the same sources as many other authors of Tudor fiction. I do like that, in addition to providing intrigue from the perspective of someone like Cromwell, who had major influence at the time, it also showed more of how Jane and her family comported themselves once Henry’s attention became obvious, and later when he married her. While I did get the sense of the Seymour brothers being scheming through my knowledge of the way things played out during Henry and Jane’s son, Edward’s, brief reign,

However, the best part is Jane’s more well-rounded character. I liked that Wertman’s narrative provided some element of a schemer to Jane too. Far too often, given that we don’t get Jane’s perspective, she is painted in a study of contrasts to Henry’s other wives, such as being the docile replacement to Anne Boleyn, or being the only one to bear him a living son, whereas the other wives, if they’re not vilified, at least have more nuance in how they’re remembered, at least from my perspective. So I very much appreciated the development of her character into someone who wasn’t this perfect martyr, thus making her easy to sympathize with.

I would recommend this to other Tudor enthusiasts, especially those like myself who are looking for more books about Jane Seymour.

Review of “The Locksmith’s Daughter” by Karen Brooks

Brooks, Karen. The Locksmith’s Daughter. 2016. New York: William Morrow, 2018. 

Paperback | $16.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-006286572 | 565 pages | Historical Fiction

4 stars

I picked up The Locksmith’s Daughter by Karen Brooks on a whim, because the premise sounded intriguing, especially with its Tudor/Elizabethan setting, something I don’t see a lot of, apart from the occasional book about one of the monarchs or their consorts. And for the most part, it was a pretty solid read. My one complaint is that it is a little slow in places, and Brooks is a little heavy handed with the use of language, but on the whole, it contributed to an accurate reading experience that immersed me in the period.

I love the layers of Mallory’s story, especially the more I learned about the traumas and abuse she dealt with as a result of making one rash choice. Even though the environment was much more biased against women than today’s world is, I was moved by the way her reactions to what she suffered and felt that part of her character was incredibly well written. And in general, I love the other ways in which she proved her strength and intelligence as a lock-pick and a spy.

I was sure I wouldn’t like Nathaniel as a love interest at first, but his development over the course of the book changed my mind. He goes from being a bit nasty and boorish to Mallory to being one of the few people she can trust when Sir Francis comes to see her as a threat.

I would recommend this to people who are fans of richly researched historical novels.

Review of “My Lady Jane” (The Lady Janies #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Hand, Cynthia, et. al. My Lady Jane. New York: HarperTeen, 2016.
Hardcover | $17.99 USD | ISBN013: 978-0062391742 | 491 pages | Historical Fiction/Fantasy

5 stars

My Lady Jane is one of those crazy mish-mash books that I did not expect to work…but somehow it just does, with the authors somehow managing to believably twist history to provide a victory for those who were wronged, while still seeing that the most important elements remain (relatively) intact.

The three lead characters are all wonderful, and I loved going on this journey with them as they defeat evil and find themselves and their purpose in the process. Jane’s character is well-read and sympathetic, and it’s nice to get a take on her that’s much more fleshed out, but still feels reminiscent of what I know of her from her mentions in the Tudor works I had read before. And I love the twist on Gifford to make him a more sympathetic romantic hero, along with his own hurdles to overcome.

By far biggest surprise for me was Edward. He’s always been presented largely as a young boy-king controlled by the opinions of his advisers, and only beginning to come into his own, with his death ending any potential he may have had to grow as a ruler. And I like that there is some of that here, but I like how he is given the chance to evolve and see that he really was only made heir to the throne due to an accident of birth, not because he was the truly capable monarch some of his forebears were.

I would recommend this to anyone who also love historical fiction, but is open to new and unexpectedly funny takes on the darker and sometimes little discussed figures and events of history.