Review: The Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien

Description (from cover):

‘1415. The Battle of Agincourt is over, and the young princess Katherine de Valois is the prize to be offered to Henry V of England. The innocent Katherine is smitten with Henry, but soon understands that her sole purpose is to produce an heir to unite England and France. When Henry leaves her a widow at the age of 21, Katherine is forced to resign herself to a quite life as the Dowager Queen; her duty is to raise her son, the young King of England, and little more.

But Katherine is still young and passionate. Many desire her, and her hand in marriage is worth a kingdom. Setting aside those driven by ambition, Katherine falls in love with her servant Owen Tudor, and glimpses the happiness that love can bring. But their enemies are circling, all battling for power and determined to prevent their marriage. Katherine will have to fight to control her own destiny…

In this compelling and beautifully written book, Anne O’Brien tells the story of the innocent young princess, Katherine de Valois, a pawn in a ruthless political game between England and France, and the woman who founded the most famous royal dynasty of them all–the Tudors.’

My thoughts:

I have never heard of Katherine de Valois before picking up this novel. I had no idea that she was the founder of the Tudor line and that she was such an important woman in history. Anne O’Brien tells Katherine’s story with such feeling and detail that it’s very hard not to like Katherine. She starts out this book as a young princess in a destitute court in France. She is very unsure of herself and lacks confidence that is required of one of royal blood. She is quite pleased to learn that her parents have arranged a marriage for her to the King of England, Henry V. Eager to throw off the poorness of her childhood, she is anxious to be the wife that Henry needs and expects. From their first meeting she is enthralled with him and it almost becomes a youthful obsession. She is soon disappointed, when Henry doesn’t show her attention and uses her only for getting a royal heir. Her hopes and dreams are dashed for a marriage based on love and respect.

Soon, Katherine has done her royal duty by providing England and France with an heir, a baby boy named Henry. She is hopeful that this baby will change things in her marriage and is soon disappointed by her husband in this regard. He shows her the same lack of attention, bordering upon neglect as before, while he is on campaign to wage war with France. He never gets the chance to meet his young son as he dies on campaign and leaves Katherine a widow at the age of 21. Now she is unsure what is expected of her, but the government expects her to remain a chaste widow for the good of England and for her son’s future. As any young woman of that age, she resents this and wishes only for a man to love her and cherish her. She soon finds herself wrapped up in betrayals of heart as she learns just how men will use her for her royal status. She soon finds herself in love with her servant, Owen Tudor, despite the fact that he is considered to be unsuitable for her.

This story covers Katherine de Valois’ life through early childhood, through her marriage to King Henry V and her life after his death. I found this to be an intriguing story and I just couldn’t get enough. I was a little scared that it was going to be too ‘romancy’ as MIRA is the publisher, but it wasn’t so. It was tastefully done and told the story of Katherine’s life without overwhelming the reader with romantic scenes. I highly recommend this book to all historical fiction lovers who want to learn a little more about how the Tudor dynasty was started and about a woman in history isn’t often recognized.

There are some misconceptions about when this book will be published. According to the author’s website this book will be released in March 2013 in the UK. So I emailed Anne O’Brien directly asking about the US publish date and this is the response I got:

‘Many thanks for your enquiry.   I don’t yet know the release date for The Forbidden Queen in the US.  I will contact my editors and pass the news on when they tell me.  I don’t expect that it will be much later than March – but I will let you know.’

So as of right now the publication date in the US is still up in the air. Amazon and Barnes and Noble do not have this book listed for the US. Goodreads lists this book as being released tentatively on March 1, 2013 and the author’s website states March 15, 2013. If I get a more definite release date for the US I will let you guys know as I know a lot of you will want to read this book. Hate that I can’t give an exact release date, but hopefully that will be cleared up soon.

Overall Rating: 4

Title:  The Forbidden Queen
Author:  Anne O’Brien
Series:  N/A

Publisher:  MIRA
Publication Date:  March 2013
Pages:  464
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Get It:  N/A at this time

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher for free, through Netgalley, in exchange for my review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

8 thoughts on “Review: The Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien

  1. I just bought Queen Defiant today, having never read this author before. i am trying to read my way through the Henry's and this book sounds like it would fit nicely.Nice review, thanks,


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