By His Majesty’s Grace
by Jennifer Blake
(Harlequin, $7.99, PG-13) 978-0-7783-1243-7
***
By His Majesty’s Grace is the first book in a new series set in England during the Tudor era. It is full of history and political maneuvering, but gets bogged down in the details and style.

Isabel Milton has not had the best experiences in her life with men. Being the daughter of the Earl of Graydon, she is taken under the auspices of the King when she became parentless. Through the years, starting in young childhood, she has been promised to various men, but every man has died before the marriage is ever performed. It is rumored that there is a curse called the curse of the Three Graces of Graydon and has since caused the English men to stay away form the three Graydon sisters. Isabel and her sisters rely on the curse to keep them safe and the men away as the men in their life have not been the most kind.

The current king, King Henry VII, has sent Isabel to northern England to marry Sir Randall Braesford. Isabel is annoyed. Not only because she is set to be married, but mostly because the man her King has chosen for her is of a much lower station. She hopes the curse is true so it can save her from the situation.

Rand Braedsford is a simple man. He grew up as a bastard child and never expected much of his life. Rand spent many years with Henry during Henry’s exile and was knighted when Henry became King. King Henry also awarded Rand the Braedsford land even though Rand’s legitimate half brother should have received it.

Isabel and Rand have completely different thoughts regarding the impeding marriage. Rand can’t wait for it and Isabel is dreading it. Upon her arrival at Braedsford, Isabel starts masterminding a way to delay the wedding as long as she can. She gets a reprieve shortly after arriving when a messenger shows up and delivers a note from King Henry requesting Rand and Isabel’s presence in London to face charges of the murder of a baby by Rand.

Rand is shocked and Isabel is hoping it isn’t true. They both travel to London to deal with their fate and Rand is worried that King Henry is playing a political game that may end with his life. Isabel is starting to notice the gentleness and kindness of Rand and even though in the back of her mind she is still fighting marriage, she is starting to respect this man enough to soften her heart.

By His Majesty’s Grace is a story that anyone who is a fan of the Tudor era will likely enjoy. The story is very rich in the history and “soap opera” like drama and deception of the royal family and their court. I prefer stories with more character richness than plot richness, but the connections between the royals and the political manipulation is quite interesting.

The main and secondary characters in this book are very likable. Isabel is inconsistent at times though when coming to terms with her feelings. She is fighting the ordered marriage, but then when it comes time to get on with it, her struggle stops without an explanation of why.

It took me a while to get used to the writing style in the book. Also, the descriptions are so precise and detailed it is difficult to stay engaged. The opening scene of the book has Isabel arriving at the Braedsford castle. The structure and traveling through it is described in such detail that it would take the study of castle structure to know what the author was referring to. This could just be my ignorance in the subject matter although I’ve read historical romance novels for years and I struggled with the terminology in this book.

Overall I am giving By His Majesty’s Grace 3 hearts. I would recommend it to someone who has an interest in all the details of Tudor history, but for many romance readers this one may not be for you.

--Nichole Howell


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