I previously wrote a review of the first in this Brandon Trilogy, "Mary: Tudor Princess" (review here), and this second installment details a similar story to the first, but from the perspective of Mary's second husband, Charles Brandon. For anyone unfamiliar, here's the back cover blurb:
Handsome, charismatic and a champion jouster, Sir Charles Brandon is the epitome of a Tudor Knight. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Brandon has a secret. He has fallen in love with Henry's sister, Mary Tudor, the beautiful widowed Queen of France, and risks everything to marry her without the king's consent.
Brandon becomes Duke of Suffolk, but his loyalty is tested fighting Henry's wars in France. Mary's public support for Queen Catherine of Aragon brings Brandon into dangerous conflict with the ambitious Boleyn family and the king's new right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell.
Torn between duty to his family and loyalty to the king, Brandon faces an impossible decision: can he accept Anne Boleyn as his new queen?
This book moves back in time to Charles's younger years as a twenty-one year old, as he's coming into royal service. We see his relationship with Henry Tudor, his escapades at court, and the fact that he is always incurring debt and lacking funds. He's married to Anne Browne, but he's always had his eye on the king's younger sister, Princess Mary. If you've read "Mary: Tudor Princess," then you already know the course of this story - Charles's elicit and secret wedding with Mary in France upon her royal husband's death in 1515, and the subsequent drama that unfolded upon returning to England and having King Henry learn about what had been done behind his back. Now we see the love story played out through Charles's eyes.
In addition to the romance and the 'forbidden' nature of their union, we see the struggles in their relationship. Mary is loyal to Henry's first queen, Catherine of Aragon, and bitterly against the impending rise of her lady-in-waiting, Anne Boleyn as the 1520s progress. Because of the nature of her relationship with the 'true queen,' Brandon's political career is thrown into turmoil as his own friendship with the Boleyns grows tense. He wants to support his friend, King Henry, and by association his new choice in bride. But he walks a fine balance between loyalty to his wife and loyalty to the king, and as it becomes ever more clear that Catherine of Aragon is to be ousted from court, Charles's allegiance is truly put to the test.
Some of this novel certainly matched the scenes of the first novel, which is to be expected - as many aspects are essentially the same story, told from two differing perspectives. I thoroughly enjoyed this story centered around Charles Brandon, his court career, and his romantic relationship with Princess Mary. I'm anxious to move onto the third in this series - "Katherine: Tudor Duchess," which focuses on Charles's third wife following Mary's death.
Stay tuned for another review of that third and final novel in the Brandon Trilogy! And if you haven't already, connect with Tony Riches on social media and purchase his books to enjoy for yourself.
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