Reviewed by Shannon Hopkins

Lady Anne Stafford, a widow at twenty-six, lives at the family estate in Bletchingly with her brother Edward, the Duke of Buckingham. When Henry VIII succeeds as king in 1509, Anne’s luck appears to change: Edward arranges a second marriage to Lord George Hastings and procures places for Anne and her sister Elizabeth as ladies-in-waiting to the new Queen Catherine.

However, Anne’s rosy new beginning quickly turns sour, as her fair looks and charming demeanor attract the attention of the king and the continued advances of an old admirer. Believing her to have betrayed their marriage, her husband and her brother forcibly remove her from court and stash her in a nunnery. There, her resentment grows along with the child she carries in her womb – and a determination to return to court and set things right with George.

It is five years before Anne returns to court. Upon her arrival, she realizes that much has changed. Her sister is gone from court, and the weight of past betrayal lies between Anne and George. Once again she must face the king, as well as Will Compton, the king’s man who holds an unwelcome place in her heart. Heavier still, though, is the danger that Edward sees lurking behind every corner. As Edward’s behavior grows more reckless, it falls to Anne to protect the family and friends she has left.

Emerson deftly illustrates a period in Henry VIII’s early reign that had significant consequences for the English royal family. More importantly, she moves beyond the history to create (or recreate) the stories of those often overlooked – the stories of love, trust, and the full range of human emotion that give dimension to the “big events” they surround. The reader can fully identify with Anne’s desires for a loving marriage and the turmoil through which she suffers; s/he can also, however, sympathize with George as he wrestles with the thought – the fear – that his wife has chosen to love another.

Reading At the King’s Pleasure is a joy and a pleasure; I’ve added her first three books to my own reading list, and I encourage lovers of historical fiction and romance to do the same

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Shannon lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her fianc é and a room full of books that she peruses when she isn’t trolling Apartment Therapy for new decorating ideas. In her free time she enjoys maintaining her blog, The Writer’s Closet, planning her wedding, and baking tasty gluten-free treats.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Gallery Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.