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Reviewed by Erin McKibbin

During the Hundred Year War, little Catherine de Valois had much to worry about. Her father, the King of France was mad; her mother an adulterer; her brothers, uncles, and cousins were destroying France with their infighting; England had invaded and won; and she and her brother Charlie were all but completely neglected by their parents and the palace staff. But, to make things worse, Catherine had fallen in love with a landless, title less Welshman. Promised in marriage to the conquering King Henry V of England, Catherine begins to understand her royal blood cannot save her from her fate or from a broken heart.

Owen Tudor, son of a Welsh insurgent, was sent to King Henry IV as a ward after his father fled the British Isles and his family was captured. Growing up in the royal household, he overlooked the lack of civil rights he and his fellow Welshmen suffered during the reigns of Henry IV and V (the Lancastrian kings). His loyalty to the English crown was so complete that he willingly accompanied Duke Thomas of Clarence to France on a mission to offer a marriage proposal to the youngest daughter of King Charles VI, the mentally disturbed and vanquished Lord in Paris. Little did Owen realize that this trip would inspire a love of the written word, the love of a beautiful princess, and a lifetime where his devotion to his king is tested.

Christine de Pizan, known as Europe’s First Feminist, grew up as a friend and companion to the Royal de Valois children in France. Her life-long companionship with Charles VI and her fame brought about by her published works of poetry won her the position of tutor to Catherine and Charles, the youngest (and most neglected) children of Charles VI and Isabeau. Christine loved France deeply and she truly believed in the sanctity of royal blood. When she heard that her student, Catherine, had been promised in marriage to the usurper Henry V of England, she turned her back on the would-be daughter and supported young Charles in his endless fight to wrest France from English rule.

Jehanne of Arc was a teenage girl who followed the voices she thought to be that of God. These voices told her that Charles de Valois was the true heir to the French thrown, not the son of English Henry V and Catherine de Valois. God told her to wear men’s clothing and to join Charles’ efforts. So deep was her belief that she successfully led Charles to many victories and even successfully had Charles coroneted in Reims. Despite her efforts, she was abandoned to the English, who promptly put her to death for heresy. Her efforts also won her the admiration of Christine de Pizan, whose last published works was an epic poem in Jehanne’s honor.

Vanora Bennett brings to life France and England at the end of the Hundred Year War and demonstrates how a couple of young impetuous lovers found one of the most famous English Dynasties that history has ever seen. The Queen’s Lover is a captivating story taking place in the landscape of a Europe in chaos as the ancient aristocracies crumbled and a new world order emerged.

Rating: 4.5/5

Erin fell in love with the written word as a small child and subsequently spent most of her life happily devouring literature. She works as a freelance news, marketing, and technical writer as well as a full-time researcher/investigator in the sign industry. Erin lives just outside of Cleveland, Ohio enjoying the beauty of life with her children and grandchildren.

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