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Reviewed by Meg Massey
At the age of nine, Cecylee is betrothed to 13-year-old Richard Plantagenet, the future Duke of York. Several years after their marriage, which for the most part seems to be a happy one, Cecylee encounters a handsome archer who calls himself Blaybourne. Giving in to passion, she spends one night with him, and the brief affair produces a child, Edward.
Despite discovering her betrayal, Richard does not expose Cecylee’s secret, nor does he go out of his way to disgrace the child that is not his. Instead, Richard keeps Cecylee by his side, and for good reason. England has lost most of its lands and wealth to France during the Hundred Years War, thanks to the ineptitude of King Henry VI, and his manipulative French wife, Margaret of Anjou, who is looking out for the interests of her native land. The English people, feeling betrayed by the King and Queen, look to Richard, and he becomes their champion. But with so many forces against them, will he and the House of York prevail?
Thwarted Queen is a sweeping epic in which Duchess Cecylee of York is our heroine. Despite her indiscretion, the reader can’t help but relate to her. After her sin, she remains constant and supportive to her husband, who is engaged in a battle for the throne. She is an intelligent and beautiful woman, admired by many, and feared by her enemies.
Despite the fact that two of her sons, Edward IV and Richard III, would later serve as Kings of England, Cecylee often believes that she is cursed due to her sin. She loses much during the novel, including several of her children and her husband. It becomes clear that Cecylee is also robbed of the opportunity to serve as England’s Queen, as it is later revealed that the House of York appeared to have a more significant claim to the throne than that of the House of Lancaster.
While I sometimes had to re-read sections to be sure I understood who was who and what was happening, that was really because of my own ignorance of the historical events of the time. That said, if you’re a lover of historical fiction, you will love this tale, especially if you’re interested in British history. I really enjoyed reading this, and would read it again.
About the author
Born and raised in Surrey, England, Cynthia Sally Haggard has lived in the United States for twenty-nine years. She has had four careers: violinist, cognitive scientist, medical writer and novelist. Why does she write historical novels? Because she has been reading them with great enjoyment since she was a child. Because she has a great imagination and a love of history that won’t go away. And because she has an annoying tendency to remember trivial details of the past and to treat long-dead people as if they were more real than those around her.
Cynthia’s biggest influence was her grandmother, Stephanie Treffry, who had a natural story-telling ability. As a widow in 1970s Britain, Grandma Stephanie didn’t drive a car, so would spend time waiting for buses. Her stories were about various encounters she had at those bus-stops. Nothing extraordinary, except that she made them so funny, everyone was in fits of laughter. A born entertainer, Cynthia tries to emulate her when she writes her novels.
In case you were wondering, she is related to H. Rider Haggard, the author of King Solomon’s Mines. (H. Rider Haggard was a younger brother of her great-grandfather.) Cynthia Sally Haggard is a member of the Historical Novel Society. You can visit her website at www.spunstories.com.
Meg lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ryan. Library professional by day, freelance writer by night, Meg writes about life, entertainment and everything in between on her blog.
Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Spun Stories Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.