The second in a series of “alternate” reality history fictions, Anne Boleyn was able to deliver a male heir to her beheading-happy Henry VIII. While I hadn’t read the first in this series, this story wasn’t horribly difficult to understand, although some recurring characters and the odd faux-historical events will prove stumbling blocks for those familiar with their Tudors. I will admit that I am not a fan of the comparisons to works by Philippa Gregory, this author has managed to insert a wild premise into these stories, and it should be left to fans of historical fiction and alternate reality, and even those fans of historic romance to enjoy without comparison to any other authors.
Anderson has a smooth writing style, with plausible characters and displays the intrigues of court life in a realistic manner. Although a majority of the story seems to be dealing with the aftermath of Henry’s dissolution of the Catholic church and installing the new Church of England, with William seeking to ease tensions with an alliance and engagement to a Catholic French Princess.
William is now Henry VIX, and his closest confidants are his sister Elizabeth, his childhood friend Dominic and his sister’s confidant Minuette. What Elizabeth and Dominic don’t realize is that William and Minuette are attracted to one another: a point that could cause great dissention in the inner circle. Even more interesting, Dominic is also attracted to Minuette, and she, being savvy and clever and familiar with the previous court machinations manages to do the delicate dance necessary to keep her suitors and mistress unaware of her intentions.
Court intrigues and love triangles, with all of the weight on William to marry for alliance when his heart lies elsewhere, the relationship between William and Elizabeth, and their individual romantic leanings are beautifully defined and described. Elizabeth’s growth into a strong woman, as she revels in the courtship of Robert Dudley is possibly my favorite part of the story, seeing her potential growth and happiness while not carrying the weight of the crown, only slightly diminished by the realization of her position and that marrying for love may not be an option. Until William marries and produces a legitimate heir, she is still in the line of ascension, and her position is still tenuous.
While this book had some conclusions, all questions won’t be answered until the last of the trilogy releases. A fast paced and very enjoyable story, you will have the best read with the firm decision to leave all Tudor knowledge behind. While fact does integrate and inform this fiction, it is most wholly a ‘what if’ story, and a very enjoyable one at that.
Edelweiss title applied to this challenge