Book Review: The Pleasure Palace (Secrets of the Tudor Court #1) by Kate Emerson

Beautiful. Seductive. Innocent. Jane Popyncourt was brought to the court as a child to be ward of the king and a companion to his daughters — the princesses Margaret and Mary. With no money of her own, Jane could not hope for a powerful marriage, or perhaps even marriage at all. But as she grows into a lovely young woman, she still receives flattering attention from the virile young men flocking to serve the handsome new king, Henry VIII, who has recently married Catherine of Aragon. Then a dashing French prisoner of war, cousin to the king of France, is brought to London, and Jane finds she cannot help giving some of her heart — and more — to a man she can never marry. But the Tudor court is filled with dangers as well as seductions, and there are mysteries surrounding Jane’s birth that have made her deadly enemies. Can she cultivate her beauty and her amorous wiles to guide her along a perilous path and bring her at last to happiness? Basing her gripping tale on the life of the real Jane Popyncourt, gifted author Kate Emerson brings the Tudor monarchs, their family, and their courtiers to brilliant life in this vibrant new novel.

This first book of a trilogy follows a minor character, Jane Popyncourt, throughout her life and her dealings with both King Henry VII and VIII as well as the rest of the royal clan. The circumstances surrounding her arrival in English court plague Jane as an adult. She soon becomes determined to discover why her mother so abruptly fled France and then mysteriously died shortly after being warmly received in England.

I really enjoyed this one. It was an entertaining glimpse of royal court without the usual bodice ripping that comes with the territory. Emerson did a great job at making Tudor England come alive with all of the political intrigue, dangerous secrets and frivolity that comes with court life. It also gives the reader an outsider’s view of the comings and goings in court. So many historical fiction novels are written from the point of view of the key players (kings, queens and mistresses) that one often forgets the minor characters that make these lavish lives possible. It is these minor characters that often see and interpret factual events from a very different perspective and they are often the ones with the most to lose should things go awry. Emerson’s handle on the various characters both major and minor was wonderfully depicted.

I will definitely be continuing on with these highly entertaining series.


My Gemstone Rating:


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