The Queen's Pleasureby Brandy Purdy
Accused of conspiring with rebels to steal the throne, Princess Elizabeth is relegated to the Tower of London by her half-sister, Queen Mary. There she finds solace in the arms of a fellow prisonerher childhood friend, Robert Dudley. Certain their days are numbered, their bond deepens. But they are spared the axe and Elizabeth soon wins the crown, while
Accused of conspiring with rebels to steal the throne, Princess Elizabeth is relegated to the Tower of London by her half-sister, Queen Mary. There she finds solace in the arms of a fellow prisonerher childhood friend, Robert Dudley. Certain their days are numbered, their bond deepens. But they are spared the axe and Elizabeth soon wins the crown, while Robert returns to his wife and the unhappy union he believes cheated him of his destiny to be king. . .
As a daughter of Henry VIII and the ill-fated Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth knows firsthand the cruelty marriage belies and roundly rejects the many suitors eager to wed the "Virgin Queen"with the exception of the power-hungry Robert. But her association with him will carry a risk that could shake the very foundations of the House of Tudor. . .
A captivating story of loyalty and betrayal, duty and freedom, The Queen's Pleasure is a fascinating portrait of both the rise of Elizabeth I and one of the most compelling periods in history.
Praise for Brandy Purdy and The Boleyn Wife
"Recommended for readers who can't get enough of the Tudors and have devoured all of Philippa Gregory's books." Library Journal
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The Queen's Pleasure
By Brandy Purdy
Kensington Publishing Corp.Copyright © 2012 Brandy Purdy
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAmy Robsart Dudley
Cumnor Place, Berkshire, near Oxford
Sunday, September 8, 1560
The hot bath feels heavenly—the billowing clouds of steam caress my face as they rise, like warm and comforting angels' wings—but it has also sapped my strength. I feel light-headed, and a little dizzy and faint, with a persistent fear of falling should I dare attempt to stand. Part of me wants to give up, to surrender to the desire for sleep that never leaves me now, to lay myself down in the arms of Lethargy and never rise again. Now, each time I sleep, I feel as if I am floating out to sea, and the tether that binds my boat to the shore is stretching farther, growing frailer, and fraying more and more. Sometimes it scares me, and sometimes I don't even care; I turn my back to the shore, stare straight ahead, and face the horizon boldly, ready to drift away and leave all my pains and woes behind me. Nausea stirs deep inside my stomach, like a serpent slowly uncoiling and waking grumpily from its slumber, just enough to make me aware of it but not so urgent as to send me grasping for the basin that is now never beyond my reach. But I say nothing of this to dear Mrs. Pirto, who has attended me faithfully and lovingly for all of my eight-and-twenty years, as a nursemaid turned lady's maid turned nurse again; it would only distress her, and she worries so about me; my failed marriage and failing health are the cause of most of the lines on that kind and careworn face and have turned her ebony hair to pewter and dingy silver.
From my bath I can see the sky, black and starless, through the high, arched windows, yet one more reminder that monks once made their home at Cumnor, for two hundred years or more, before King Henry ordered the dissolution of the monasteries and cast their cloistered inhabitants out to fend for themselves in a confusing and frightening, often unkind world. Before Cumnor fell into private hands, my spacious apartment was divided up into several stark and tiny monks' cells furnished with only the bare necessities —a hard-as-a-board cot to sleep upon, with a chamber pot hidden underneath, and a crucifix looking down on its occupant from high upon the wall, to remind him that God is always watching us. Sometimes I fancy that I can still see their faint outlines, like the ghosts of those banished crosses haunting their former home. In spite of myself, I smile and blush a little at the thought that a monk's cot might even have sat right here where I sit now, naked in my bath.
No doubt to the simple country folk hereabouts it seems like the height of extravagant folly or absurdity—like the French king's mistress bathing in a tub filled with crushed strawberries to preserve her famous beauty—my rising when it is still as black as tar outside to take my bath. Many already think me a woman of a strange mind. But it's a soothing and peculiar kind of peace, to sit in a candlelit bath while most of the world still sleeps, and I like it, and even though I am naked, I feel less vulnerable somehow. I like the quiet solitude of sitting in my bath, luxuriating in its warmth undisturbed, before the sunrise and the busy bustle of the day begins, hours before there are voices downstairs and outside the windows, the clatter of cart wheels and horses' hooves in the courtyard, the laughing, joyfully raised voices of children playing, servants calling to one another, and footsteps and chatter in the Long Gallery outside my room where I used to walk up and down before I became so weak, and below stairs the gossip of servants and the crash and clang of kitchen pots. Though Cumnor is in reality four separate households under a shared roof, and I keep to myself most of the time, the other ladies who lodge here are more social creatures than I, and each thinks that she is the queen bee here, and over this entire hive reigns. There is the ancient Mrs. Owen, the mother of Cumnor's owner, Dr. George Owen, who, like the mouse who bravely pulled a thorn from the lion's paw, received it as a reward for his attendance on King Henry's sore and seeping leg; and the plainspoken, sometimes tart-tongued Mrs. Forster, wife of Sir Anthony Forster, my husband's treasurer, who holds the current lease on Cumnor; and his mistress, the widow Mrs. Oddingsells, one of those rare women who seem to grow more attractive and alluring as they age. My servants dart about Cumnor like busy bees doing whatever they are told to do regardless of who gives the commands; sometimes they don't even have time for me, they are so busy doing Mrs. Owens's, Mrs. Oddingsells's, or Mrs. Forster's bidding. But I let it go; I am too tired to complain, it would take more strength than it is worth, and I just don't care anymore. Besides, I like being here with only Pirto to attend me, free from the fear that some well-intentioned or curious maidservant will come knocking and catch a glimpse of my pain-wracked body and ruined left breast when Pirto opens the door, or will even boldly cross the threshold and ogle me, while pretending not to, so she can tell the others what she has seen, as she delivers a stack of fresh linens or a package from my husband containing a pretty piece of apparel to lift my spirits, or the latest doctor's or witch's brew calculated to restore my health or more likely hasten me to my grave if I were fool enough to drink it. With rumors rife in London and spreading throughout the land, and even across the sea, that Robert and his royal paramour mean to poison me, I would be a fool to let any potion he sent cross my lips. But the colors are pretty, and I sometimes set the glass bottles on my windowsill so that when the sun strikes them just right, rays of amber, ruby, emerald, and lemon light shoot into my room like a rainbow to fight the clammy gloom of Cumnor's gray stone walls and floors.
Outside my windows the sky is as dark as black velvet, with not a star in sight to provide even a pinprick of diamond-white light, and the silver coin of the moon has been spent. It's strange, but before the cancer burrowed into or erupted out of my breast, whichever description fits it best, I never realized how dark it is before the dawn. It frightens me yet at the same time makes me feel so grateful and glad to be safe and warm inside my room with numerous candles all about, beside a comforting fire that crackles with flames that move and sway and leap like dancers in red, yellow, and orange costumes, instead of wandering lost, stumbling and staggering blindly, out there in the dark, feeling likely to jump out of my skin at every noise, whether it be a rustle of branches in the breeze, the hoot of an owl, the trill of a night bird, or the howl of a beast. The thought of being enfolded by darkness terrifies me and makes me shiver despite the warmth of my fireside bath. I am so afraid that that is what death will be like. What if Heaven is only a comforting myth, a fairy story to reassure the faithful, to instill hope instead of horror, peace instead of panic, calm instead of a frenzy to cram full and make each moment count? What if death is really the permanent cessation of light and an eternal reign of darkness, like being wrapped 'round and 'round and suffocated in a bolt of heavy black velvet, unable to breathe or see or move, locked in stultifying black stillness forevermore?
Sometimes I dream that I awake in black-velvet darkness to feel a pair of strong hands about my throat intent on squeezing the life out of me. It's funny in a way, I used to be so afraid of the city, the country used to seem such a safe haven to me, and London with all its crime, bustle, and brawls the epitome of danger, yet now I realize, secluded here in the country, that if anyone came meaning harm to me, if they chose their moment well, no one would hear me scream. I know now that I was wrong to insist on solitude. If anyone should come to me with murder in mind, I have colluded in my own demise, I have made it easier; all a killer has to do is wait and choose his moment well, and Justice will turn a blind eye.
Hot tears fill my eyes and threaten to spill over as I gasp and shiver. Gazing at me with deep concern, Pirto starts to speak, but I shake my head and reassuringly murmur, "It's all right, Pirto. Come." I force a smile. "Let's wash my hair now. I want to look my best today!"
I mustn't spoil dear Pirto's day; up until the last moment she must think this is one of my good days, and I am excited about going to the fair.
I close my eyes and lean back as she ladles warm water onto my head and begins to massage my scalp and, from root to tip, to work in a special chamomile and lemon blend to make my hip-length yellow hair shine like straw miraculously spun into curls of living gold, as though King Midas himself had touched my head. "Harvest gold"—years ago my husband dubbed its color as he lay upon me in a bed of buttercups by the river, our favorite trysting spot, playing with my sun-streaked hair, stroking and fanning it out above and about my head like rays of the sun, likening it to a bountiful wheat harvest flourishing proudly beneath the sun that daily bestowed a thousand kisses upon it. "Hair with a luster that puts gold to shame," he said, then kissed my face and declared that my cheeks were "as pink as the sweet roses of May." He has such a way with words, my husband; his letters used to make me melt like butter left out under the hot summer sun. Does he lie by the fire with Elizabeth and fan her red hair out around her head whilst in poetic words comparing it to the dancing, crackling flames, I wonder? Does he make her melt too? And is she fool enough like I was to love, trust, and believe him?
I sigh and breathe deeply of the lemons' tart tang and the fresh, clean smell of the chamomile, a combination at once soothing and invigorating. I wonder if this was made from chamomile I helped gather before I became too ill. I can't help but smile at the memory of my former self standing young and strong amongst the sun-kissed flowers with a straw hat crowning my wild, wayward hair to keep my fair skin from freckling or worse—Robert would be horrified if he came riding up for a visit and found his wife burned as red as a boiled crayfish or looking like "The Nut-Brown Maid" stepped out of her song—with a basket slung over the crook of my arm, and my skirts tucked up to my knees, and the grass tickling my bare ankles and toes.
I was never sick a day in my life before this disease! I used to be a strong, happy, country lass, pretty, pink-cheeked, and smiling, brimming over with health and vigor. Not rawboned, big, and brawny like a blacksmith in petticoats, but hale and hearty, round and rosy, not like a fashionable, porcelain-skinned lady of the court who would like the world to think that she is as delicate and fragile as an eggshell, a treasure to be handled with the utmost care lest it shatter beneath the slightest pressure. I sometimes think that the real tragedy of my marriage is that for Robert the novelty of what I was paled against the reality of what I wasn't.
As soon as it is light enough outside to see, everyone will be stirring, alive with excitement and anticipation, fidgeting through their chores and the church service at St. Michael's like children eager to go outside and play. Today the Fair of Our Lady opens in Abingdon. I have given all my servants leave to attend and cajoled the other ladies to do the same, to make this Sunday not just a holy day but a holiday, a happy day. I want them all to do what I cannot —to forget their cares and woes, and frolic, laugh at the antics of the jugglers, acrobats, dancing dogs, puppet shows, and clowns, to dance and sing, have their fortunes told, ask a question of "The Learned Pig," gape in wonderment at the living oddities like the two-headed sheep, test their strength and skill and win a prize for their sweetheart, and glut themselves on cider and cake until their bellies feel fit to burst, and spend their hard-earned pennies on trinkets and frivolities from the peddlers who follow the fair like fleas after a dog.
My servants have been so good to me, putting up with all my pains and whims, all my tears and fears, my melancholy and maudlin fancies—if they really are fancies. There are times when I am not sure anymore what is real and what isn't. I know it is what they are paid to do, but it is no fun or easy task attending a sick woman, breathing in the stink and stale air of the sickroom, the endless changing of pus-stained dressings, laundering sweat-sodden bedsheets and night shifts, emptying basins and chamber pots, carrying in trays of nourishing broth that like as not will be carried out again untouched or nearly so, the applications of ointments to flesh that is at once alive and festering with disease and pain yet also decaying, dying right before any eyes that dare look upon it, whether it be in curiosity, revulsion, compassion, or necessity.
Death put His mark on my breast, and it is now spreading throughout my body. Sometimes I fancy I can feel it swimming through my veins like a school of tiny fish. And soon He will take my life as well. Death will take my heart in His hand and squeeze it until it ceases to beat and lies squashed, broken, and bleeding in the palm of His hand, both merciless and merciful at the same time.
My mind is already giving way. Already there are fissures through which fantasy and suspicion seep in and become hopelessly blended with my reason, and the resulting mixture is not pleasing to anyone, least of all me. It frustrates and bewilders me to always have to stop and wonder and ask myself, and sometimes even to swallow my pride and ask others, if something truly happened or if I only dreamt or imagined it. I used to be a woman with a calm and steady, sensible mind, possessed of good country common sense, dependable and reliable. Despite my very feminine love of fashions and finery, I was never a woman who could be called frivolous or featherbrained.
I used to be the chatelaine of my father's estate. My mother was a rich widow who never had much interest in such things. She preferred the life of a pampered invalid, lounging her life away in bed, propped up against a mountain of pillows, munching sweetmeats, gossiping with the friends and family who came calling, and showing off one or another of her pretty lace-trimmed caps and bed gowns, so I took charge of the household as soon as I was old enough. I kept account of 3,000 sheep—the lambing, the shearing, the wool sales, those animals sold for mutton at market—I tallied the profits and the losses and kept account of the barley crop, the yield from our famed apple orchard and other fruit trees, the berry picking, the brewing of cider and ale, the salting of meat for winter, the milk, butter, and cream from our cool stone dairy, the honey from the hives, the distillery where we made our own perfumes and medicines and dried herbs and flower petals for sachets and potpourri to sweeten our rooms and the chests where we stored our clothes and bed linens; I oversaw the larder and wine cellar and made sure they were always well stocked, with plenty to eat and drink, barrels of dried fruits and salted meats, and jams and jellies to delight us with summer fruits in wintertime. I supervised the laundry and candle-making, planned the meals with our cook, and dispensed charity, packing and giving out baskets of food, clothing, and medicines to the poor, ailing, and elderly. I rode out daily to inspect the fields, orchards, and pastures. I used to be able to do it all! Father used to say I was a paragon of efficiency!
But now ... Now there is no work for me to do even if I were able. Now I sit in the homes of strangers as a gracious, idle, and ailing houseguest with too much time on my hands and weighing heavily upon my mind. I was brought up to believe that idle hands are the Devil's tool, but I think that is equally true of an idle mind. Rumors, fears, and fancies prey on me, they bite deeply like fanged monsters, and I can no longer distract myself and stave them off with work as I used to do. It is not just my body that is failing. Now my mind is a mass of contradictions—I think or say one thing and then another, I veer from the highest heights of hope to the deepest pit of dark despair, one moment joy rules my life, then, in a finger snap, I am fury incarnate or drowning in deep blue doldrums; I grasp greedily at life yet long for death, I fight to survive and then sink down, ready to yield, admit defeat, and surrender. I've lost control of my own mind, and I don't know what I want anymore when I used to be so certain. I've strayed so far from the woman I was and the woman I always meant and wanted to be. I've lost my way, and now it is too late to remedy my course, to stop, stand still, get my bearings, and think, turn back to the crossroads of Fate and choose a different path. As my father would say: "You've made your bed, Amy my lass, and now you have to lie in it!"
Excerpted from The Queen's Pleasure by Brandy Purdy Copyright © 2012 by Brandy Purdy. Excerpted by permission of Kensington Publishing Corp.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Told from the POV of Amy Dudley and also Elizabeth I, the reader is taken on a touching journey. The beginning has you wondering if the entire story is going to be told from obviously the mind of a very sick and mad woman who has been scorned by her husband. Amy Dudley's cancer has spread and seems to be the cause of her paranoia. The reader doesn't know if this feeling is real or if it is just a dying woman's wild imagination. As the story progresses we flash back to happier days when Robert Dudley and Amy first met and instantly fall in love. Even though everyone tells Robert that he is marrying beneath him, the lusty 17-year old wants no one but Amy. Amy is a country girl at heart and not one of the lofty court women. Amy loves to work on the farm and make her jellies. As time goes on and Elizabeth I, Robert's child playmate, takes the throne, Robert sees that his youthful decision was not a wise one and has hurt his ambitions to be great. Robert becomes a disgusting character. He is greedy, abusive and narcissistic. He is constantly belittling Amy and embarrassing her in front of others so that everyone's perception of Amy is that she is a country bumpkin. He starts to slowly take everything away from Amy until she has nothing left but her every trusty handmaiden, Pirto. Amy, still thinking, that she has to hold onto Robert, tries to win back his love only to have it thrown in her face. Her attempts at times are hard to read because they are so pathetic and you just want Amy to grow a backbone. The reader starts to think of Elizabeth as a home wrecker until her POV comes into play. Robert’s duplicity is shown and how he is playing both women against each other. Elizabeth feels devotion to Robert because of their past but as we all know; Elizabeth swore she would never marry. England was her husband. But once Elizabeth finds out about Roberts lies and betrayals after Amy's mysterious death, the fiery red head gets her revenge for both the deceased Amy and for herself. The Queen's Pleasure started out shaky for me but ended with me feeling fulfilled. All that I hoped for came from this lengthy novel of the Elizabeth/Robert Dudley/Amy Dudley triangle. I enjoyed reading the unique writing of Purdy. If you are a lover of Tudor fiction you will be enamored with this version of the story of Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley's rumored affair. (ARC was provided for an honest review)
Reading about the Tudors have always been a favorite of mine. I prefer historical fiction, ala, Philippa Gregory. This book, however, was a disappointment. I am surprised the heroine "Amy" didn't expire from drowning rather than cancer, she shed so many tears....it got exasperating! Also, three pages in my nook describing marzipan animals was supposed to be what?....Filler? Way too many pages describing costumes, and does the author really know that much about what they wore? Also, I doubt whether Queen Elizabeth was that silly...sorry I "scanned" through to the end just because I have a "thing" about finishing a book. Would not recommend unless the reader likes "Romance Novels", which I do not.
This book makes you see Queen Elizabeth I in an entirely different light than other books have portrayed her. She seems to understand the love that Amy Dudley has for her husband, Robert, even though he does not reciprocate Amy's feelings. You see a much kinder side to the Queen and this makes her seem like a woman who can be very caring and tender. I really enjoyed this book and author very much.
Beautifully written, the story of two women and the man who would try to destroy them both. I loved this book so much, I was muttering at it constantly!
I really liked this book, and I'm not just saying that because I'm a history major and because I love the Tudors. (At least, I don't think I am). I really liked the premise that Purdy went for in this book, which is something that she does, she picks a topic that people ask questions about, but it hasn't widely been done before, like Lady Rochford-the woman who in essence killed Anne Boleyn or Amy Dudley, the wife of Robert Dudley who history mostly forgot. I liked that Purdy made me feel something for the characters even if it wasn't a good thing. Robert Dudley was such a prick (excuse my language). The way that he treated Amy was absolutely deplorable! It was so sad to see the way their love started, young and so in love and then to watch the way that it moved toward his hatred of her, and her fighting to hold onto him. He so easily won her and then tired of her because she wasn't a perfect courtly woman. Amy's character is so innocent, its heart breaking to see Robert pull away from her and make excuses for why she never came to court. There is only so far that sympathy can go, since after awhile her desperation does get very trying. I admired the way that her devotion and faith in Robert is unwavering until the year before her death. It was sad when she became suspicious of Robert because that was the point that you realized that there was no longer any hope for their love even though as a reader you're aware that he's moved on to Elizabeth. Purdy did a great job with imagery in this book. It was easy to picture the ornate dresses that Amy or Elizabeth wore, and all I could do was wish that I could wear such pretty dresses. Although she was a little wordy at times, this book was easy to work through. I love reading Purdy's books and I can't wait to see what she plans on coming out with next. To find out more about Brandy Purdy and her method of writing, check back on Thursday for a chance to win your very own copy of The Queen's Pleasure. Of note: Brandy Purdy is published under the name Emily Purdy and The Queen's Pleasure is published under the name A Court Affair in England.
I am still a fairly new devotee of historical fiction and have read a few books centered in the Tudor era but this is the first book devoted to Queen Elizabeth I and, more especially, Amy Robsart Dudley, a figure much lesser known and written about in history. The Queen's Pleasure is really Amy's story, told from her point of view as a young maiden desperately in love with the dashing Robert Dudley, transitioning to a blushing bride and then an unwanted and unloved wife, callously tossed aside for ambition. I loved Amy as presented in the book as much as I was frustrated with her - - although my frustration stems from Robert Dudley's shoddy treatment of her. It was very powerful to see through my reader's eyes the slow tearing down of a sweet, beguiling young girl, made into a fearful and suspicious woman who trusted no one. Even knowing her fate, I still hoped against hope that she would find happiness and the freedom she so richly deserved. Sections of the book are also devoted to Elizabeth I and I must admit that in the first chapter or so, outside the beginning of the book, I didn't like Elizabeth and thought her to be as cold and cunning as Robert Dudley himself. However, further chapters showed a more humane and caring woman, a woman desperate to serve her country and learn from her mother's demise. I found Elizabeth to be a bundle of contradictions - - guilt-ridden over her affair with Robert Dudley, but selfish enough to sustain the illicit relationship; claiming to love Robert while admitting that he was a scheming liar who betrayed his wife and, most horribly of all, that he may very well have murdered her or had her murdered. Those contradictions made her a fascinating character, a steely, strong-willed woman who felt she could never marry just a man as she was already married to England. Amy and Elizabeth were really two sides of a similar, if not the same, coin. Both were devoted in their own way to Robert Dudley, victims of his ambition. Both wanted nothing more than to be perfect in their expected roles - - Amy as Lady Dudley, Robert's wife and Elizabeth as a ruler to surpass her father. Both these women, as well as all others showcased in The Queen's Pleasure, are so vividly portrayed that I came away from this book feeling as though I had an inside track to Amy's thoughts and author Brandy Purdy took me to sixteenth century England as surely as if I had stepped into a time machine. The writing is inviting, intense and flawless, rich with the flavor of English country life as well as court life. The political machinations, the tragedy to befall the Dudley family and the mystery surrounding Amy's death were weaved to captivating detail and the end result is a mesmerizing work of historical fiction that puts Brandy Purdy on my "must read" list. I would not hesitate to highly recommend The Queen's Pleasure. It is what historical fiction should be. ©Psychotic State Book Reviews, 2012
The Queen's Pleasure is the fictional account of a real person, Amy Robisart. Born in Norfolk, the heiress of farmer Sir John Robsart of Syderstone. She married Robert Dudley just before she turned 18, and they were both young and in love. Amy is best known for her untimely death of suspicious circumstances. Lady Jane Grey became Queen and after her rule of a fortnight as England's queen, Robert Dudley was sentenced to death and imprisoned in the Tower of London. At the same time Princess Elizabeth, lifelong friend of Robert Dudley,was also imprisoned in the tower. Robert is eventually freed. With the accession of Elizabeth I to queen, she awarded Robert with the title, Master of the Horse, where he spent most of his time at court. Amy on the other hand was kept away from court which suited her fine at the time. This became increasingly hard on Amy and all she wanted was to spend time with her husband and start a family. Robert had high hopes on becoming King of England and did whatever he could to achieve that goal, including wooing Elizabeth I. As time goes by Amy becomes more and more despondent with the feeling that her husband no longer loves her and her rival is the Queen of England. Amy becomes ill with breast cancer and after she dies,there were rumors that Robert wanted her dead and that he had hired someone to poison Amy so he could continue his pursuit of Elizabeth and England. Elizabeth has decided to that she will never marry, including Robert. There different theories as to the what really happened and we all know that Elizabeth I was England's Virgin Queen and that Robert Dudley died without achieving his goal of becoming King and had to live with the rumors that he caused his wife's death. I found Amy to be a very tragic figure and Robert to be a cad of the lowest form. Brandy Purdy tells the story of Amy in an intimate and honest way that I found appealing although at times I felt like giving Amy a swift kick in the backside and for her to tell her husband that enough was enough. In Medieval times though, husbands were rarely faithful to their wives and the main reasons for marriage was for their lands, money and property. I did not much like Robert in this book but I felt that in the end his reward was not being able to obtain his goals. As with all of Brandy's books, I enjoyed this one very much and highly recommend it to the lover of Tudor history. It is always nice to get a different point of view, even though it is fiction of course.
Was it murder or suicide or even an accident? Did Robert Dudley murder his 1st wife or order her murdered? Did Amy Robsart Dudley choose suicide as a release from the terrors of breast cancer and her torturous marriage to Robert Dudley? I chose this book to know more of the facts and to imagine the emotions had by Amy and Elizabeth the 1st. Brandy Purdy’s “The Queen’s Pleasure” captured me in the beginning pages and did not let go until the end of the Epilogue. The Epilogue was my favorite part. My husband was in another room when I read it and he asked me if anything was wrong! The story is told through the voices of Amy Robsart Dudley and Elizabeth 1st. Amy was Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester’s first wife. They came from very different backgrounds. He was the son of the Duke of Northumberland and Lady Jane Grey. His father has tried to secure the throne for his wife and failed. Robert was at first enchanted with Amy. Amy was from the country and loved nature very much. She didn’t care for jewels or furs or titles, she just wanted a happy life. Then Robert became enamored with Elizabeth 1st or did he? I loved the idea of telling the story of Amy’s life through the voices of Amy and Elizabeth 1st and enjoyed the description, songs and poems employed in this story. After reading this book, I felt that I could easily understand Amy’s and Elizabeth’s feelings towards Robert Dudley. This book also gives you an inside to the ravages of breast cancer and the guesses at its treatment in the 1560s. Did Robert Dudley truly love Elizabeth the 1st or was it the crown instead? Why Elizabeth 1st did chose England over any marriage? I believe this book answers those questions. What was the true Robert Dudley like? I hated him! You can read this book and see how you feel towards him. I really loved this book; it flowed so easily for me and never got boring. I felt that I learned a lot about the relationships of the Amy, Robert Dudley and Elizabeth 1st, feel very fortunate to be living in these times when it comes to medicine. I confess that I have read some negative criticism that complains about the long sentences in this book but since that is the way that I write it felt very natural! So I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in historical fiction. I am going to hold on to this book. I look forward to reading more historical fiction from Brandy Purdy. I received this book from the author, Brandy Purdy but that in no way influenced my review