Rompin' with the Tudors.....

Every so often a little tremor of book buzz flows through blogland and catches our attention over here at A Reader's Respite. Such was the case recently when all of a sudden it seemed as if everywhere we turned peeps were talking about a upcoming historical fiction release entitled The Boleyn Wife by an author named Emily Purdy.

"Purdy.....Purdy....," we mused silently to ourselves, wracking our overtaxed, holiday-stressed brain, "...that name is familiar."

Of course, as it turns out, Emily Purdy is the new pen name (in the UK, at least) of one Brandy Purdy, a writer down in Beaumont, Texas who has penned a notorious little novel about Edward II and Piers Gaveston and another about Anne Boleyn and her arch-enemy and sister-in-law, Lady Jane Rochford called Vengeance is Mine.

The publisher Kensington has evidently picked up Purdy's novel Vengeance is Mine (originally self-published via iUniverse), retitled it The Boleyn Wife and given Purdy are more British-sounding pen name to go with it.

the original novel, self published by iUniverse

Intrigued, we set about finding ourselves a copy of Purdy's original version, Vengeance is Mine (not the easiest task in the world given that copies of the original novel are disappearing quick) and within a few days had a copy in our hot little hands.

the new and improved version, published by Kensington

A Reader's Respite was fully prepared to not like this book.....we had heard about some, *ahem*, creative love scenes involving two of ol' Henry VIII's wives and a rather large jar of honey. Let's just say we were dubious at best.

To our surprise, the novel isn't terrible. Really, it isn't.

Most of the story revolves around Anne Boleyn, second and soon to be headless wife to Henry VIII, as told by her notorious sister-in-law, Lady Jane Rochford. Towards the end of the novel, after Anne goes to meet her maker, Lady Jane relates the shorter reigns of Henry's subsequent wives, Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves, finally ending the story with the beheading of fifth wife, Katherine Howard - a time when Lady Jane meets her own untimely end on the chopping block as well.

Ms. Purdy, it should be noted, is a mighty fine writer.....the words flow easily across the page and the narrative is, for the most part, quite sensible. In short, she shows enormous promise as a historical fiction author.

Of course, we did have a few quibbles. Jane Rochford was a tad one-dimensional and singular in her hatred and desire to give her sister-in-law her comeuppance. And although Jane was indeed a lady-in-waiting for many of Henry's wives, one wonders how the woman managed to witness so many private conversations and sexual couplings throughout her royal stay.

Along the same vein, the novel was just a tad disjointed with over two-thirds being devoted to Anne Boleyn's rise and fall, with only two short parts towards the end devoted to Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. Although Lady Jane wasn't at court during Seymour's short stint as queen, she was present for Anne and Katherine's reign and though their queenly time was comparatively short, it left the reader feeling rushed, as if there could have been more to the story.

There were also constant references to these women's historical nicknames....if Anne Boleyn was referred to as the "Goggle-eyed whore" once, she must have been referenced so at least fifty times. Ditto for Katherine Howard, the "rose without a thorn." Throw in a few references to the "Flander's mare" (Anne of Cleves), and you have yourself a veritable festival of royal nicknames.

You're wondering about the kinky sex scenes, aren't you? Yes, for the record, there is a interlude between Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and a jar of honey. Thankfully, most of the scene occurs behind the curtains of a royal bed and most is left to our imagination. A Reader's Respite, for the record, thought the scene was cute and silently applauded Purdy for throwing in a little fun conjecture.

Presumably, now that Kensington has picked up the book (to be released January 26, by the way), a new editor will have had their way with the novel, so the criticisms you read here may well not apply to this new version.

All in all, the book is publisher-worthy, no doubt about it. Don't expect a Sharon Kay Penman or a Higginbotham novel here, rather think Philippa Gregory. But as we said, this writer shows promise and may well develop into a mighty fine historical fiction author. Time will certainly tell.

In the meantime, A Reader's Respite simply must get our hands on her other novel about Edward II's lover and favorite, Piers Gaveston entitled, aptly enough, The Confession of Piers Gaveston. It's time to go a-book-huntin'!

Required FTC (TSA, DOD, USDA, whatever) Notice: We purchased this novel for a whopping $8. It wasn't given to us, wasn't stolen, and no animals were harmed during the reading of this novel. We bought it, fair and square, and we'd do it again with no regrets. So there.


  1. I think too many Tudor themed novels are killing the story :) But I guess with so many out there already one more won't hurt. Nicely summarized :)

  2. Glad to know no animals were harmed :p

    Now I'm going to have to see for myself. Gaveston is next up for you though.

  3. Buckwheat honey or Tupelo honey? It makes a difference I think.

  4. I didn't think it was horrible either...and it certainly had some interesting sex scenes thrown in. :)

  5. Thank you for your review. I'm glad you liked the book and think I have potential. I just wanted to let you and readers know that the new edition has indeed been professionally edited and some new content has been added to flesh the story out. So, hopefully, some of the kinks have been worked out, though not the so-called kinky sex, that's still there:-)

  6. I don't think this one is for me, but I'm glad you enjoyed it. I will admit to being curious about the honey, though.

  7. I always enjoy a good Anne Boleyn story and this does sound a bit interesting.

  8. I too love anything regarding Anne Boleyn and I am glad I had a chance to read a copy of the version by Brandy Purdy. I do prefer the title The Boleyn Wife. But that is just me. I thouroughly enjoyed this book and will hang onto the copy that was gteiven to me by the author becsuse she also signed it....

  9. I'm glad this one worked for you. I'm totally soured on self-published books. I might give it a look once it's been in the hands of a professional editor.

  10. I really did have fun reading this one. And Brandy, thanks for being such a good sport re: the small must be hard to be a writer and see people tear your baby, so to speak. And yes, I can't wait to read your future're already head and shoulders above many other hf writers out there....keep it up! :)

  11. This sounds interesting! I have stayed a little away from the Tudor trend in the last year, but I sense 2010 will see me reading more historical fiction. I'll keep this one in mind! Thanks!

  12. So funny we both were reading this at the same time and I am glad you enjoyed this one. I certainly agree that the author does indeed have potential, & I would read another one of hers if there were less sex involved. She has a great imagination and the writing style itself I had no quibbles with.
    The honey-sex scene is probably my last straw, right where the author lost me. (And do we forget that she had Cromwell's baby.. that threw me also!)
    And since the Tudors are my fave subjects OF ALL TIME I get a little annoyed at the over abundance of stretching the truth, and that's not this author's fault. I've just read too many non-fiction books to know what's what regarding Anne Boleyn.
    I'll be interested in what you think of her first one regarding Piers and "forbidden sex to entice and enslave King Edward II!"

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  14. I just wanted to let you and readers know that the new edition has indeed been professionally edited and some new content has been added to flesh the story out

    Work from home India

  15. Fantastic review Michele! I am reading this in a few weeks and glad to hear that there are some "interesting" sex scenes...can't wait to read those!

  16. I am just reading this book now. I have not reached those kinky sex scenes yet. Only ones that are a bit descriptive in the beginning. Thanks for the good review.


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