The Queen’s Lady (The Lacey Chronicles #2) — Eve Edwards

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England, 1584.

When beautiful Lady Jane Rievaulx begins her service to the Queen at Richmond Palace, she is thrilled to see the court’s newest arrival…Master James Lacey.

No matter that Jane was previously courted by the eldest Lacey brother—James is the one who has won her heart. For his part, James cannot deny his fascination with Jane; his plans, however, do not allow for love. He is about to set sail on a treacherous journey to the Americas, seeking absolution for what he sees as past sins. But when Jane is forced into a terrible situation by her own family, only one man can save her. Will Master James return to his lady before it’s too late?

Before Jane Rievaulx’s elderly husband passes away, he secures a place for Jane as one of the Queen’s ladies as a way to protect her from his spiteful sons and her selfish family. The last person Jane expects to see at court is James Lacey, the brother of her ex-fiance and the man she still finds herself madly attracted to. Though James feels as if Jane has betrayed his family, he can’t help the feelings she reignites in him. Still, even if he wants to, he cannot be with Jane, for he doesn’t believe himself deserving of love. But when Jane finds herself in a precarious predicament, James might be the only person capable of saving her.

The Queen’s Lady is filled to the brim with court intrigue, passionate romance, dastardly evil plots, and dashing heroes. Jane faces every imaginable obstacle a woman in sixteenth-century England can face. Though she is a strong, independent woman, even heroines sometimes require saviors. But though she feels James Lacey cares for her, she’s not sure he’s up to the task. Luckily for Jane, she has friends who will stop at nothing to help her maintain her freedom. The characters in this novel are richly developed and many of the scenes switch viewpoints, allowing us to gain a more well-rounded view of not just Jane and James, but also Milly, Diego, Christopher Turner, and other minor characters. While shifting perspectives between numerous characters can sometimes feel unnecessary or frustrating, this literary device works perfectly for The Queen’s Lady. We switch frequently enough as to receive important information and further develop important secondary characters, but not so much that we lose focus of who the main characters are. And understanding both the minds of Jane and James is immensely helpful and rewarding. Eve Edwards masterfully portrays each character distinctly, emphasizing traits that make them unique and engaging. Plus, Edwards strikes a beautiful balance between the shorter, humorous scenes that diffuse the tension of the longer, more dramatic scenes.

James’s and Jane’s impending romance is completely swoon-worthy. You’ll root for them from the very first chapter onward. Jane’s cunning wit and sharp tongue allow her to put into words the sly comebacks we generally tend to come up with days after we need them (and subsequently beat ourselves up over). Plus, the setting of 1584 England means every barb and every romantic admission is said so eloquently that you’re sure to fall in love with the language just as much as the characters. Even better: though this is a historic fiction piece, Edwards dishes up a major plate of girl-power, along with a dash of damsel-in-distress for zest. The female characters here are strong, intelligent, and capable of some serious sass — and I love every minute of it!

In addition, if one romance isn’t enough for you, Edwards also provides the endearing love story of one of Jane’s best friends, Milly, and James’s manservant, Diego. With Milly and Diego, Edwards tackles the topic of biracial relationships in historic England, a topic I haven’t seen addressed much but appreciate in The Queen’s Lady for the questions it raises. This book certainly provides a lot to think about and really opens my eyes to specific customs and traditions I hadn’t previously been privy to. For anyone who enjoys historic fiction or tales of all-consuming romance, The Queen’s Lady is a must-read.

Pages: 336
Publication Date: April 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Rating [rating: 4.5]

Teaser Quote: “Jane plucked a handful of ivy leaves and threw them at him. ‘Why can’t you just love me?’