"...full of sexual tension and political intrigue... For a terrific historical romance with a couple who can't keep their hands off each other, this is perfect."—RT Book Reviews
Set against the extravagant backdrop of the scandal-ridden Tudor Court, lady-in-waiting Eloise Tyrell learns the meaning of true passion—and danger—in this deliciously erotic novel, perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Sylvia Day.
Lord Wolf, hardened soldier and expert lover, has come to King Henry VIII's court to claim his new bride: a girl who has intrigued him since he first saw her riding across the Yorkshire moors.
Eloise Tyrell, now lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne Boleyn, has other ideas. She has no desire to submit to a man she barely knows and who—though she is loath to admit it—frightens her more than a little.
Their first kiss awakens in both a fierce desire that bares them to the soul. But as the court erupts into scandal around the ill-fated Queen, Eloise sees firsthand what happens when powerful men tire of their wives...
Lust in the Tudor Court series:
Wolf Bride (Book 1)
Rebel Bride (Book 2)
Rose Bride (Book 3)
Praise for Erotic Romances by Elizabeth Moss:
"Fifty Shades of Tudor sex." —The Sunday Times
"For a terrific historical romance with a couple who can't keep their hands off each other, this is perfect."—RT Book Reviews
"Infused with political intrigue, royal pageantry, infidelity, scandal, historical authenticity, romance and love, this story brings yesteryear to life while heating up the pages and fascinating readers."—Romance Junkies
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By Elizabeth Moss
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Elizabeth Moss
All rights reserved.
January 1536, Greenwich Palace, near London
The soft giggling from within the queen's chambers could be heard all the way along the corridor to the gardens. If they were caught, Eloise thought, the penalty would be death. Lady Margaret might be standing guard at the door to the west wing, against the king's approach, but there could be no secrets at court. Already the courtiers were whispering of the queen's infidelities, though discreetly, not in so many words, fearing the king's anger if the news should come to his ears.
Eloise had been sent to the queen's privy chamber with a pure white ermine mantle to guard Her Majesty against the cold. Now she did not know whether to knock and risk the queen's anger at being disturbed, or go back to the bedchamber with her mission undischarged.
With the queen's fur mantle draped over her arm, Eloise flattened herself against the wall and peered through a crack in the ancient oaken door. She had hoped the rumors were not true, or that the gossipmongers had exaggerated. Yet what she saw was enough to condemn the queen twice over.
Radiant in a billowing gown of yellow silk, Queen Anne was sitting on a man's knee beneath the casement window. The man was Sir Henry Norris, one of the king's own Gentlemen of the Chamber. His arm was tight about her waist. She was protesting, but with a smile on her face.
"Your lap is too hard for a lady's comfort, Sir Henry. Let me down before you do me some mischief!"
"I have never heard you complain before that a man was too hard, Anne."
The queen laughed, leaning back against him. Her slim white throat was adorned with pearls, a strand of wayward hair peeping out from under her black velvet hood.
"I do not know why I allow you to speak to me in such an insolent fashion, Sir Henry."
"Do you not?" he murmured in her ear, and Eloise saw the hand at the queen's waist slip upward, cupping her breast in an openly possessive gesture.
Queen Anne gasped, and slapped his hand away. "One of these days ..." she began warningly.
"One of these days you will go too far, Norris, and find yourself out of all favor," a deep male voice finished for her, and the queen looked up, smiling gratefully.
There was another man in the chamber, Eloise realized. She watched this man kneel before the queen and jolted with horror, recognizing him from his profile.
Sir Thomas Wyatt, a gentleman of courtly disposition, and a poet of great wit and intelligence. Surely he too was not involved in the queen's dangerous inner circle?
Sir Thomas had always seemed so well mannered and quietly spoken. Eloise refused to believe he was one of those ambitious courtiers who surrounded Anne like hungry dogs whenever the king was absent.
Wyatt was murmuring, "Forget Norris's insolence, and permit me to amuse you instead, my sweet lady." His hand brushed Anne's cheek, an intimate touch which suggested they were more than mere friends. Certainly if the king had been present, that touch alone would have earned them both a pass to the grim Tower of London. "Do you have some small token I could borrow? A jewel, perhaps?"
Anne looked deep into Wyatt's eyes. Then she smiled, slipping a large emerald ring off her finger. It glittered greenly in the sunlight. "The king gave me this as a gift at New Year," she confided. "Will it do?"
"It is perfect." Wyatt's voice seemed to waver, becoming husky. "Like its wearer."
"Will it be returned to me soon? I do not begrudge it to you, Sir Thomas, but the king may notice its absence."
"You may have it back if you can find it, Your Majesty." Sir Thomas Wyatt hid the ring behind his back. "If you cannot find it," he murmured, "I will be forced to claim a forfeit from you."
Watching through the crack in the door, Eloise saw him shift the ring from one hand to the other. Then he presented both closed fists to the queen.
Queen Anne gurgled with teasing laughter, still seated with indecent intimacy on Norris's lap. She leaned forward to choose, her bosom on show, then hesitated a moment, biting her lip as though in doubt. Her wavering hand hovered first above one fist, then the other.
With a sudden lightning stab, she chose the left hand. "That one!"
Sir Thomas turned his hand over. His palm was empty. Queen Anne gave a little cry of disappointment.
"You were unlucky this time, Your Majesty," the poet murmured. "For if you had chosen the right hand ..."
Slowly, he opened his other hand; the emerald ring was nestled there, gleaming. Before she could snatch it back, Wyatt clenched his fist again.
"A kiss," he reminded her softly.
The queen's eyes widened, and a tiny ripple of fear seemed to move through her countenance. She did not refuse him though. Sir Henry Norris made some small noise of protest but Anne ignored him, leaning forward with her gaze on Wyatt's face. At that moment she looked like a woman dazed, unable to resist the temptation before her.
Eloise stared too, unable to believe her eyes. Surely the poet would not dare kiss the queen on the lips?
The sound of running feet in the corridor made Eloise turn, springing back guiltily from the door.
She had only meant to peep through for a moment, but had found herself caught by the scene before her. Now it seemed to her that the rumors of infidelity might be true after all. If the queen was flirting with courtiers like this behind King Henry's back, it might have gone beyond kissing with one or two of them.
Eloise shuddered. The horror of what might happen to Queen Anne when the king discovered the truth did not bear thinking about.
It was Lady Margaret, a few years her senior and already one of the queen's most trusted ladies-in-waiting, who had interrupted her. Margaret was agitated, holding up her gown to run, her cheeks flushed, her unbound hair flying about her face.
"Out of my way, girl!" she gasped, pushing Eloise aside. "The king is coming! The king is coming!"
But she had been heard from within. A second later, the door to the queen's privy chamber was flung open. Flushed and with her eyes sparkling, Queen Anne stood on the threshold. She pulled in her jeweled skirts to let Norris and Wyatt pass, ushering them out of her private quarters.
"Hurry!" she whispered, watching as the courtiers slipped down a shadowy side corridor that led out to the queen's privy garden.
"Where are my ladies?" she demanded, turning to Margaret.
"In the rose chamber, Your Majesty."
"Quickly, then," Queen Anne insisted, hurrying along the corridor into the rose chamber. With deliberate dignity, she seated herself near the fireplace. Her color was high, yet she did not seem too discomposed by the king's sudden arrival. The sound of men's voices could be heard in the corridor now. "Fetch me that embroidery."
While Anne set a few lopsided stitches into her embroidery frame, Lady Margaret bent over her mistress, whispering urgently in her ear.
"Henry will suspect nothing if we can only keep our heads," the queen replied sharply.
"Yes, Your Majesty."
The flustered lady-in-waiting tidied Anne's black velvet hood, pulling back her hair so her slender neck — so admired by King Henry in the early days of their courtship — could be more clearly seen. Anne sat straight in the chair, gazing down upon her embroidery with apparent absorption, her sallow cheeks lit with a blush which was already fading.
Her chief women, who had been lounging at their ease on velvet cushions strewn across the floor, rose in a whisper of silk at the king's approach and arranged themselves about the queen's chair.
Eloise hurried into line with the other maids of honor, shaking out the crumpled folds of her court gown. Hers was made of yellow taffeta, for they had all been instructed to wear yellow that month, in celebration of the death of old Queen Katherine, who had been the king's wife before Anne.
Eloise had only come to court a few years before, a northern girl with little taste for court life. To her father's relief, the new queen had seemed willing to accept her as a maid of honor, where the old queen, Katherine of Spain, had not been interested. Even so, Eloise was not blinded by gratitude. She did not think it wise of the queen to risk her husband's displeasure in this dangerous way, flirting with his courtiers behind his back.
She could almost understand Anne's flirtation with Sir Thomas Wyatt, who was a poet and stirringly handsome. But not Norris, an older courtier whose appearance and manners were far less appealing. Besides, her position was already dangerous. It was rumored that the king was growing bored of his new wife, even though he had disrupted all of England — and even split with the Holy Roman Church — to divorce Katherine and marry Anne instead. There were whispers that he was looking elsewhere for a wife, and all because Anne had failed to bear him a son and heir.
Perhaps the queen had fallen in love with Wyatt, Eloise reasoned. That would explain her flirtatious behavior. A woman in love must follow her heart.
But could Her Majesty be in love with two men at once?
The door to the queen's apartments was flung open, and King Henry entered the room, accompanied by Sir Thomas Cromwell, one of the most feared and hated men in the country.
All the ladies sank to the floor as the king entered, their heads bowed, and Eloise followed suit.
Rising on his command, Eloise glanced at the king with sudden apprehension. Would he speak to her again today?
Although her family was too obscure to make her an eligible match, the king's eye had lighted on her more than once in the three years since she had come to court. But then King Henry seemed to study all the queen's younger ladies with interest, admiring their figures and their hair, their dancing and their features, as though weighing up each one as a potential companion for his bed.
Indeed, King Henry had taken more than one lady-in-waiting as his mistress since his marriage, much to Anne's fury.
Yet what could the queen do but accept her humiliation? Henry was the king, and the king's word was law.
Anne had risen too, and was curtsying to her royal husband. He raised her, kissing her hand in a leisurely fashion. It made Eloise wonder how he had wronged the queen this time, for he was rarely courteous toward his wife these days.
"How is your head today, Anne? Still aching?" His sharp eyes slipped to her belly, a little rounded under the stiff yellow-gold gown. "And how is my son?"
Anne muttered some polite reply, but the king did not seem to be listening. His hungry gaze was already roving the room. Soon it found Eloise.
His Majesty came forward, smiling indulgently at Eloise. One hand stroked his neatly trimmed beard, the other rested on his hip, where the heavy folds of his richly embroidered suit hid his liking for sweetmeats.
"You keep so many maids of honor, Anne, I cannot number them all. What is this pretty thing's name?" Cromwell came forward to murmur discreetly in his ear. The king nodded. "Ah, Eloise. I remember now. A sweet young maid from the North Riding."
She curtsied very low, though his lascivious attentions made her skin crawl. "Your Majesty honors his poor servant too much."
"Where such an honor is deserved, it can never be too much." The king seized her hand as she rose, kissing her fingertips, his touch lingering on her skin. She did not know where to look, so stared at his vast doublet, the contrast of red velvet beneath the slashed yellow sleeves, and the ornate gold chain that hung about his neck. "Your father has come back to court at last. Have you spoken with him yet?"
Eloise was startled. "My father is here?"
Sir Thomas Cromwell came to the king's elbow again, his sallow face expressionless. "Your Majesty? I believe the queen wishes to speak with you about the arrangements for your forthcoming tournament."
Gently and with due reverence, Cromwell steered the king back toward his wife, then turned to look on Eloise thoughtfully.
"Your father, Sir John, has returned to court in the company of his neighbor, Baron Wolf," Sir Thomas told her coolly.
It was clear to Eloise that the king's chief minister did not wish Henry to become too interested in her. For this intervention, Eloise was most grateful. She herself took no pleasure in the king's flattery, but knew that it would be just as dangerous to spurn it as accept it. They said he had hunted Anne Boleyn in the same persistent way before she gave in and became his mistress, refusing to believe any woman would not please her king by lying with him, virgin or not.
"I believe your father intends to make a match between you and Lord Wolf, and has come to beg the king's blessing on your impending marriage," Cromwell continued. "For myself, I trust it will be a happy and fruitful union."
She blanched. "My ... my marriage?"
But Sir Thomas Cromwell had already moved on, having not heard — or tacitly ignored — her question. For King Henry was not speaking with his wife according to his intention, having spotted Jane Seymour instead amongst the queen's ladies. He was now eyeing Jane in such a lewd fashion it brought color to that lady's cheeks, though she did not seem reluctant to receive his attentions. Cromwell did not interfere, but watched them carefully. It was no secret that he disliked Anne. Perhaps he hoped the king would push her away in favor of Jane Seymour if this new pregnancy ended in yet another miscarriage.
Eloise did not hear another word that was said until King Henry had left the queen's apartments, for she could not quite believe what Sir Thomas Cromwell had told her.
She remembered Lord Wolf from her childhood; a grim, disagreeable old man, he had been forever in a bad temper because his son was either away serving the king on campaign or else plaguing his heart out with his dissolute ways.
Surely her father could not expect her to marry such a man? Lord Wolf must be nigh on sixty years of age, and thrice widowed already.
"I must speak with Simon at once," she muttered, taking her friend Bess aside while the other maids gathered excitedly about the queen to discuss the king's visit. "If Her Majesty asks where I am, will you tell her I am unwell and have retired to bed?"
"Of course." Bess looked concerned though, following her to the door. She was a sweet-natured girl, but biddable, and did not approve of Eloise's secret meetings with Simon. "But do nothing rash, Eloise. If your father has arranged a marriage for you, it is pointless to pursue Simon. He is a younger son and has no hope of providing for you."
"Wealth is not everything," Eloise said hotly. "We love each other, and that is all that matters."
* * *
Simon was her most perfect man. Dark-eyed, fair-haired, he might not be a knight, or set to inherit a vast fortune, but he was handsome and clever, and always knew how to make her smile again when she was unhappy. Only a year apart in age, they had been more like brother and sister when she first came to court, but in the past year, things had grown more serious between them, until Eloise found she was quite in love with him. His quiet humility was what she admired most about Simon. Although his father was a baron, he did not strut about like the other young men at court. The youngest of five sons, he was largely ignored by his father, so came and went as he pleased, and had wooed her with a gentle patience which she found deeply pleasing.
After sending him a note, Eloise hurried to their favorite meeting place, a small privy garden on the north wing of the palace. It was a beautiful spot in any season, though she preferred it in spring, with the flowers just opening their buds. Today, the January weather was chill and sunny, no wind but a slight bloom of frost on the flagstones as she swept through the cloisters, her yellow gown raised slightly to avoid soiling the hem.
To her relief, Simon soon appeared, ducking his head as he passed through the arched doorway to the cloisters.
"Eloise!" Simon clasped her hands, kissing them as the king had done earlier, though now she thrilled at the warm lips against her skin. "You look flushed. Are you in trouble with the queen again? I have warned you not to be so free with your speech. She will not tolerate impertinence, even less now that she and the king are so estranged."
"My father has come to court," she told him urgently, "and intends to offer me as a bride to Lord Wolf."
Simon nodded. "Yes, I have seen Sir John."
"You have seen my father?" She stared. "Have you spoken with him?"
"Not spoken, no. But I saw him with Lord Wolf only this morning." Simon shrugged. "They say King Henry has given his blessing on the match. The queen may not wish to release you from her service, for she dislikes it when her maids are wed. But she will bow to the king's will in the end."
Excerpted from Wolf Bride by Elizabeth Moss. Copyright © 2015 Elizabeth Moss. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Lady Eloise Tyrell serves as a maid of honor in the court household of Queen Anne Boleyn. Inspired by the love and passion of King Henry and Queen Anne, she dreams of finding and marrying a man who loves her instead of one who treats her as chattel. But her dreams are crushed when she discovers that her father has betrothed her to the formidable Lord Wolf, a favored, battle-hardened soldier to to the King. Lord Wolf does not believe in love – not after his heart was ripped out and stomped on when he was still a young man of eighteen. Ten years have passes since then and he believes that love makes a man weak. Marriage is a necessity that provides a honorable outlet for his carnal lusts and an avenue for continuing his family name. But then Wolf sees the woman Eloise has become since he left for the battlefields and he fears that all his long-held beliefs are about to come crashing down around him. I love books set in Tudor England. It’s my favorite historical period – full of passion, intrigue, and just the right amount of court politics to keep everything interesting. WOLF BRIDE does not disappoint. Set just before the condemnation of Queen Anne, this novel is full of rich, historical characters and has an interesting plot steeped in historical details. Eloise is headstrong and passionate – a troublesome combination for a period that condoned the beating of disobedient wives. But she’s also fiercely loyal and ready to step up to defend her family when necessary. Wolf is reputed to be a tough, formidable soldier, but he’s also cunning and able to easily navigate court politics – even to the point of skillfully manipulating King Henry (a dangerous game indeed!). The sex in this novel is scorching hot! I would definitely place this more in the historical erotica category than the historical romance since the sex does play an important expository role in moving the plot along. It is NOT “Fifty Shades of Tudor Sex,” but that’s a good thing! Readers picking this up hoping for kinky bondage or any kind of BDSM will be disappointed. Instead, readers are treated to an array of sensual love scenes that exhibit Eloise and Wolf’s growing love and passion for one another. Scenes that will steam up your e-reader and have you reaching for the nearest glass of ice water! I can’t wait to read more novels from this series! Originally posted at Plot Twist Reviews [dot] Com I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I usually read more young adult books because I tend to shy away from adult romance's graphic nature, but I love stories that take place during this era. After giving this book a go I ended up really liking it. I loved the setting, the story line, and the characters. I was all wrapped up in the emotions and relationship between the two main characters and couldn't put the book down.
Nice read all the way to the end...
As other reviews have stated, there is no BDSM moments, or Dom verses sub characters. Eloise comes across as weak by bouncing between her feelings and letting things just happen. Most of the conflict is in Eloise' thoughts, and just when you cheer her on and wish for her to say something...she doesn't. The storyline in unique and creative with its Tudor background, but I yawned at Eloise' character once I saw she doesn't speak her mind.
I am voluntarily reviewing this reader copy of Wolf Bride. Tudor Era novels. I don’t have a good reason for not reading them, I just always think I don’t like them. Maybe it’s the tv show tripping me up. Anne Boylan wasn’t really a good friend to anyone, so maybe I always think she mucked up an entire Age. I pass these books by, after reading Wolf Bride I have a fresh palate and Elizabeth Moss has inspired me. This book is steamy to the nth. Definitely 5 Steamies out of 5 and also NSFW. Lord Wolf has just come home from another battle campaign for King Henry and approached his neighbor Sir John Tyrell for the hand of his daughter Eloise in exchange for clearing Sir John’s debts. Eloise has been in the company of Queen Anne as a lady in waiting these past years and has her heart on a courtier named Simon Thetford who has been romancing her recently. Upon learning of her impending nuptials she runs to Simon to appeal to him to elope with her to save her but finds that the fickle suitor would be more happy to dally with her after she has married. Heartbroken she decides the fastest way to an acceptable future is being a shrew and acting a child with her new intended. This works well. ...because the last thing Wolf wants is a boring bride. I liked this story a lot. The one thing that did feel a little raw in the telling was it felt that from time to time a little backstory is brought up but turns out to be irrelevant to any purpose. Along with that some ideas are put forth but not tied into a full thought. A good instance of the later issue would be in all the crumbs the reader is given of Wolf being intrigued in her as a child. This would feel more meaningful if ages were addressed and events appropriate to those ages. I was left thinking that one of the mentions of his attraction was when he was an adult and she was still a young girl--that made me squick, especially in light of the things he does to his bride in the name of her being his childhood obsession. I would be remiss in not mentioning that there are a great deal of events that border on dark issues. Women were not held in high esteem in the era and Elizabeth Moss does touch on some of the less than respectable treatment of females. I will say it plainly, her female characters are always in the shadow of imminent or potential violation in physical and emotional forms. Kids, this is not a time in history where women had a great deal of power. This novel is part of a series. The heroine and hero of the next book are in this one and are secondary characters given a decent amount of real estate in this story. I do want to also mention that the portrayal of Queen Anne in this novel is very sympathetic. I hesitate to give the tart the same benefit of doubt. Off with her head!
Earlier this year, I read Alison Weir’s excellently written The Lady in the Tower: the Fall of Anne Boleyn. This is a perfect fictional complement to that book. Though Boleyn is not the heroine of this story, the political machinations of her speedy path to execution are constantly in the background of this tautly written novel, and the effects of the politics in the Tudor court reach out all across England, even when the hero and heroine are in far off Yorkshire. Duty, obedience, and honor are of utmost importance to King Henry VIII and, as a soldier, Lord Wolf is constantly at the king’s beck and call. But his good standing with the king must never be taken for granted, especially since his wife, Eloise, is one of Queen Anne Boleyn’s ladies-in-waiting. This highly charged and erotic historical romance is a departure from my usual Regency era fare. But as a history buff, I appreciate Elizabeth Moss’s engaging writing style, the vivid and well-drawn characters, and the richly portrayed historical setting of Tudor England. Eloise Tyrell is a pretty young woman from the Yorkshire countryside in the delicate and enviable position of maid to a queen. She covertly observes Queen Anne’s scandalous flirtations with men in the animated and free love atmosphere of the court, but is smart enough to realize she must also ignore what she sees. Eloise also enjoys a youthful infatuation with Simon, the youngest son of a baron, but quickly becomes disillusioned when he shockingly suggests they become lovers after her arranged marriage with Lord Wolf, a childhood acquaintance; after all, it is the usual behavior at court. This is something Eloise cannot condone and, when Lord Wolf boldly claims her for his own in a breathless and seductive first meeting, Eloise is startled, cautious but curious, and promises him complete fidelity. It irks her that Wolf distrusts her, however. “Now that she was promised to Lord Wolf, it was no longer acceptable for her to speak so freely with other men, however innocent her intentions.” Be forewarned that the sex in this book is extremely graphic, but it’s also very smoothly written and enjoyable to read. The loose sexual and moral atmosphere of the Tudor court is acceptable and rampant, much like the court of Charles II depicted in Nina Mason’s superb novella, Devil in Duke’s Clothing. For example, if the king desires another man’s wife in his bed, he will comply or be liable for the consequences and eventual disfavor and exile. Or worse. After their hasty marriage, Eloise and Wolf enjoy a vigorous and adventurous sex life, yet both are unsure of the other’s true feelings. As an arranged marriage, neither expects to feel such an intense attraction or need for one another, but it is undeniable. A woman is her husband’s property, free to use and dispose of at will–witness King Henry’s treatment of his own wives–so Eloise walks a fine line between satisfying her husband yet not losing parts of herself. “She must learn to be cold, to separate her heart from the clamoring desires of her body. Just as Wolf did.” Wolf is a strong and bold hero, both physically and emotionally, a brave and fearless soldier who has the king’s ear, and who introduces Eloise to the far edges of sensual pleasures, much to her fear, surprise, and delight. With each lusty encounter, their love grows ever stronger but each holds heartbreak from their pasts and jealousy must be overcome. Moreover, Wolf secretly admires and reveres Eloise’s spirit, as
This is book 1 in the Lust in Tutor Court series. Eloise Tyrell, lady-in-waiting to Queen Boleyn, has just been told that her father has found a husband for her. Marrying a stranger was not what she had in mind for herself, especially after watching the events unfolding at the castle. Lord Wolf has been intrigued with Eloise since he saw her riding across the moors. There marriage gets off to a rocky start and doesn't get any better when Eloise is called to testify at the Queen's trial. Can these two strangers make a go of their marriage or will all the intrigue at court keep them apart? I don't usually like romance stories that revolve too much around real life events (King Henry VIII trying to "get rid" of Anne Boleyn) but I did enjoy this one. It could be because I actually knew quite a bit about the time period already as I teach these events to my students. We see two strangers coming together as husband and wife. They start to build their relationship at their estate and are then quickly thrown into the intrigue at court. That definitely adds another element to the story. This is my first book by Moss and I will definitely be back for more. Thanks go out to Sourcebooks via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
I was given this novel before publication date in exchange for an honest review. I've never read anything by Elizabeth Moss but this book has definitely pushed me to become a loyal reader. Moss is on the same writing level as the golden stars, Sylvia Day and Jodi Ellen Malpas, as far as I'm concerned. The writing is vivid, potent, and fluid. There was never a point in the book where I became bored. The plot is well crafted, the characters develop before your eyes while lost in the story, and the love that grows is sweet. Of course, the sex is quite nice. Quite nice is putting it mildly, Wolf and Eloise burn up the Tudor era sheets! Ah, yes, I must explain that this is a historical romance. It is one of my weaknesses! I loved how the main characters worked well for one another and had such distinctive personalities. I think I really should say I loved everything about this book. I'm beyond impressed! I look forward to reading more from the lovely Elizabeth Moss!
Henry VIII, six wives he had wedded Two died, twice divorced, and two he beheaded. That little rhyme was a child’s rhyme popularized after Henry’s reign, and used even today in early history classes as part of a ‘list the kings of England” exercise. And any true fan of history can’t help but be intrigued and interested in the Tudor court, especially during Henry VIII’s reign. The most infamous of the brides, Anne Boleyn, was one of the two beheaded, and her time at court was rife with intrigue, drama, passion, treason and above all, danger. In this book by Elizabeth Moss, we are following the story of the time with one of Anne’s ladies, Eloise Tyrell. This story manages to provide all of the intrigue, deceptions and duplicity of the court at the time: Henry was known for his situational loyalty and short temper. In reality, the King was daily in great pain from a festering wound, and a bit of a spoilt child with the position of King meaning no one dared say no to him. While intrigue and deception were everywhere, we see the perspective of the determined and dubiously devoted Anne as she sought to become queen. With reformation activities holding the country and religion in a tinderbox of heretic burning, destruction of abbeys and resentment from clergy and populace alike, the court’s machinations and jostling for position were never ending. Eloise is not above the fray: as one of Anne’s ladies, she is exposed to the courtiers seeking favorable reports and position, to encourage the King’s favor, as well as her own beauty catching the roving eye of the King. As a confidante of Anne, Eloise’s life is highly uncertain, as Anne was singleminded in her determination to win her own desires, and jealously guarded her own position as his current obsession. Not an innocent by any means, Eloise leaves court to marry Lord Wolf, a favored member of Henry’s army and a landowner. In her time at court, Eloise has observed and learned much: that while her body and goods may be the property of her husband, she can withhold her heart, and keep her husband’s interest, give him something to work for. But, then Henry has tired of Anne, and Eloise becomes a pawn in the game that will remove her from the throne, and lead to her beheading. I enjoyed Eloise, with her clarity and ability to see much of the jostling for position around her, and not falling for the copious compliments and favors done for her in order to build their reputation and esteem. The relationship with Wolf was intriguing: his position and honor required he hold his wife in some esteem, but he was always seeking more from her, wanting to feel as if he was as well-regarded. An interesting dynamic that played well in a sensual and erotic way, and would serve Eloise well when the dangers of returning to court to testify against her former mistress started to become apparent. Wolf’s protectiveness and advice combined nicely with her own understanding of the court and the intrigues behind the scenes. And when a threat comes, as they are unsure just what Eloise may know and say come, the tension rises to a boiling point: the pages could not turn fast enough. The Tudor court was a dangerous place for women or men, and the proper 16th century ladies were meant to obey tradition, at least in public. With a nice mix of expectation, intrigue, belief and insight from a surprising source, Elizabeth Moss has created a story that will be sure to please many, and is the perfect getaway for a few hours. While the sexual tension between Eloise and Wolf informs much of their early interactions, the building of that relationship informs both characters, giving them a connected and solid relationship that serves the story nicely as things get rough. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.