Title: Secrets of the Tudor Court: By Royal Decree
Author: Kate Emerson
Release Date: December 14, 2010
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
When King Henry VIII’s eye falls on Elizabeth Brooke after his marriage to his fifth wife, Katherine Howard, ends after her death, Elizabeth is concerned. She has no desire to be the queen, especially considering the precarious nature of that role, and besides, she is in love with someone else. Will Parr is a dashing, handsome man, but there is just one problem: Will is already married, and although he has been separated from his wife for years, he cannot remarry unless the king wills it.
By Royal Decree is the perfect subtitle for the latest novel in the Secrets of the Tudor Court series. It seems as though all of Elizabeth’s fortunes rest on the whim of the king, and her life is dictated by what he decrees. Over the course of the novel this theme is highlighted again and again, emphasizing that courtiers during the time period were completely vulnerable to the whims of their monarch. It’s so frustrating to watch Elizabeth try to live her life as best she can when none of decisions she can make to bring herself happiness are in her hands.
Elizabeth Brooke is an honest, sympathetic woman, though she is horribly naïve. Time and time again, she believes she can make things happen simply because she wants them to. She doesn’t seem to understand the world around her, nor how cruel people can be. Nor does she seem to fully comprehend the politics surrounding her. That’s not to say she’s stupid, because she’s not - she’s just characteristic of a woman of her times. She wanted to have an education, but her father felt it was unnecessary, which is sad, but typical of the time period.
Once again, Emerson does an excellent job with the time period and history behind this book. The novel is set during an extremely tumultuous (and interesting) time in English history - the end of the reign of Henry VIII. Elizabeth Brooke and Will Parr were important during these events, and it’s fascinating to see their view, especially considering the choices they made and the sides they picked. I really enjoy this series of standalone novels set during the Tudor period; they are reliably well-researched and engaging.
Secrets of the Tudor Court: By Royal Decree is an interesting historical novel focusing on major players during the time period. Focusing on the nobles at court, rather than on the king and queen themselves, gives this entire series a fresh perspective and endless new stories to tell. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, this is a novel worth reading.