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Reviewed by Jessa Larsen
With no family, save a brother she fears to contact, Henrietta is trapped in an abusive marriage with her son as the remaining bit of hope she has for her life. Feeling cornered, she makes the bold move of a new life in the servitude of the royal family of Hanover, heirs to the British throne. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to distract her violent husband and soon things progress from horrible to outright horrifying, nearly costing Henrietta her life.
Luckily for Henrietta, she still has her luck and her wits, and those may be her saving grace. As her loyalty and intelligence win her the graces of Princess Caroline, she finds herself under the tender affections of Prince George. Like pieces on a chessboard, she finds herself in a game she is simultaneously hesitant and tempted to play.
As Princess Caroline finds herself in her own predicament, losing babies to both King George and the simple bad luck of failed pregnancies, she makes the bold move of pushing her confidante and husband together, hoping to distract him long enough to get what she wants from the King, her children and perhaps, eventually, the throne. But she must decide what is worth more to her, her pride, the throne, her children, or her marriage.
Set in the during the reign of King George II, Mistress of the Court tells the story of royalty as well as the common folk. It is incredible what the characters endured, especially the hardships of females in this era. They didn’t often have direct power, so they played their games in the background, manipulating and bending males to their will. Sometimes it got them great rewards, oftentimes, it ruined them completely.
I love historical fiction and Mistress of the Court was no different. The era of royalty and the gender roles of that time fascinate me. It’s a wonder if women were happy at all, although I suspect the majority of them didn’t know any better. Consequently, I’m extra impressed by tales of women who were brave and headstrong, making a way for themselves even if it didn’t often end well for them.
Caroline and Henrietta are great characters and, even though I do think each character could have been fleshed out slightly more, I loved their roles both independently and intertwined. My largest complaint, which could be no one’s fault but my own, was my confusion with the male characters. Once in a while I was tossed from Caroline to Henrietta, or vice versa, and would have to remind myself which person’s narrative I was currently reading. I confused Charles, Prince George, and King George. Other than that, I loved the book and am off to read the first installment of the series.
Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, two kids, two small chihuahuas, and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She balances her work as a website admin with her hobbies of watching anime and playing video games.
Review and giveaway copies were provided by Myrmidon Books Ltd. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.