Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet). 

I seem to have a backlog of historical fiction titles on my sagging bookshelf … I read this one some time ago and only now have time to review it. The Golden Widows by Isolde Martyn was a book I looked forward to, having enjoyed Martyn’s Mistress to the Crown. The cover has the typical woman-with-hands-in-lap pose; the woman’s eyes are cropped out – to see into her eyes, her soul, the reader is compelled to read on. Here’s the blurb:

As sister to Warwick the Kingmaker and cousin to the new young King Edward IV, Kate Neville finds herself on the winning side of the latest bloody battle of the War of the Roses – and under pressure to marry again. Kate’s family want to ensure her new husband will be someone they control, such as the king’s handsome chamberlain, Lord William Hastings, but Kate is refusing. Hastings has a reputation as a womaniser and she wants a man who won’t betray her like her first husband did. But the debonair Hastings is determined to win her heart. Can she thwart her brother’s plans for her?

Elysabeth Woodville is a beautiful young woman, much adored by her husband, Sir John Grey, but when he is killed in battle on the losing side and named as a traitor, his estate is seized by the Yorkists and she finds herself penniless and friendless. In her desperate struggle to restore her sons’ inheritance, she finds herself not only kneeling before her enemy but winning his heart. Is she is too proud to become his mistress? Or does the King of England love her enough to ignore his friends’ advice and make her his queen? In the precarious peace of a bloody civil war, can love heal the wounds and reunite families?

I’m a bit partial to the War of the Roses/Tudor era, so I was keen to get stuck into this one … it didn’t disappoint. Like Mistress to the Crown, this novel is well-researched and engaging, particularly with the insights to life at the time. What really stands out is the description of what it was like to be a woman at this time. No matter how intelligent, how resourceful, women were still expected to marry and produce heirs in order to advance their family – they were pawns in families’ quests to make their mark in an uneasy world. I’d read a few books featuring Elysabeth Woodville and this one showed a different side to her; I hadn’t read anything about Kate Neville and it was refreshing to discover a new historical character. Martyn has a knack for writing historical fiction that has blends fact and romance in an enticing manner and I’m looking forward to more from her.

Available from good bookstores (RRP $32.99). My copy was courtesy of Harlequin.

Bookish treat: It’s really boring, but I munched on carrot sticks while reading this. Hey, the carrots were fresh from the garden and so tasty!




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