I’ve been meaning to write reviews for these two books for so long that I’ve decided to just condense them into some little mini-reviews, so here goes!
The Boleyn Deceit and The Boleyn Reckoning are the second and third books in Laura Andersen’s alternate history trilogy about what would have happened if Anne Boleyn had had a surviving son. I read the first book The Boleyn King a while back and enjoyed it, but didn’t find it to be particularly memorable, so to my surprise I absolutely loved the second and third instalments!
There will be spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the first book!
The Boleyn Deceit by Laura Andersen
‘She had known for months now that something or someone would have to break to end this painful stalemate they were locked in. She had never guessed it would be Dominic. She had never guessed Dominic could be broken.’
Following on from the events of The Boleyn King, William Tudor (King Henry IX) is betrothed to a French Princess; an engagement that is the only thing preventing France from going to war with England. However, William has fallen for his childhood friend Minuette, and is willing to plunge the country into war to marry the woman he loves…the only problem is that her heart belongs to William’s best friend and advisor Dominic.
The odd thing I’ve found about this series is that it was the first book that seemed to suffer from ‘second-book syndrome’ where the plot is a bit meandering and largely just feels like filler. It was in this second book that the true vein of the story seemed to pick up, and everything from the plot to the characters seemed tighter and more developed, and the series became more pacey.
At the heart of this book was the love triangle between Minuette, William and Dominic, and whilst I usually hate love triangles, I liked that this one had a very unique aspect. Unusually Minuette isn’t emotionally torn between two loves: she loves Dominic, but just can’t outright reject the King’s advances. She doesn’t want to hurt her childhood friend, and also doesn’t want herself or Dominic to suffer the wrath of William’s anger when he finds out that the woman he loves is actually in love with his friend.
I also continued to love the character of Elizabeth Tudor, and her relationship with Robert Dudley made for an interesting sub-plot, and there was plenty of other interesting side characters like John Dee and Lord Rochford. The ‘murder mystery’ aspect of the first book here gives way to court intrigue, and the manoeuvring and secrets of all the characters, and I liked that much better!
Overall I adored this second book, as the tension begins to build, and you can’t see any way out of the central love triangle that will end well for the three characters involved. Pretty much as soon as I finished this I was at the library for the next book, and couldn’t wait to find out what happened next!
The Boleyn Reckoning by Laura Andersen
‘She choked and took a ragged breath. “We cannot go back. We can only go on. William will never let me go. What else can we do but run? Unless you no longer find me worth it.”‘
The Boleyn Reckoning picks up a few weeks after the events of The Boleyn Deceit, with William recovering from his bout of illness and eagerly anticipating his marriage to Minuette, having no idea that she has secretly married his best friend Dominic.
The tension of the second book kicks up a notch further in this final book, as there is now no going back for Minuette and Dominic, and William begins to become increasingly more unstable, his love for Minuette the only thing keeping him grounded. In fact at times in this book William becomes a truly monstrous character, and you genuinely fear what he will do next, and the lengths he will go to to get what he wants.
When the tension finally comes to a head, the final part of the book takes you on a rollercoaster of emotion (as in, this is one of few books ever to make me cry!), and I was absolutely gripped! When I compare this to my fairly ambivalent feelings towards the first book, it’s quite astonishing how much I loved this book, so I really would say this is a series to stick with until the end!