I loved this book. The cover drew me in – especially the unusually silky textured paper – and sitting in my garden, I was transported to a bygone era, lost in a world of kings and queens and religion and politics and ambitions and dreams. While the book is full of romance, the focus on telling a tale grounded in history is the priority, and this leads to a compelling page-turner.
There is a wonderful sense of setting in the book – from the Aquitaine to the East – and the depiction of life for a twelfth-century duchess/queen felt realistic. I have always loved the power of historical fiction to show how life differed for our ancestors, but also which common themes echo across the centuries. In this book, I was delighted by the strong characters (particularly the females), their ambition and, most of all, the pull of their love over righteousness and politics.
Christy’s writing style is poetic and fitting for the era she depicts. She is careful to include vivid descriptions, allowing the reader to understand how this old world looked and felt. It is her romantic prose, though, that most draws me. My favourite phrase is this: ‘Once he met me, and saw his own soul in my eyes…’ What a beautiful way to capture the love at first sight between two characters.
For me, the greatest strength of the book lies in the characterisation. Eleanor is a heroine with whom you identify, and from early on in the book I found myself admiring her courage and her strength in such a male-dominated world. I think Christy finds the perfect balance between making Eleanor ruthless and treacherous when the need arises, but at heart a good, loving woman whom we respect and wish well. And her love interests – well! Attractive, intriguing, a wonderful mix from the alpha male to the devoted worshiper.
The ending of the book was perfect – freedom at last, and the hope of new love and a whole new level of power and accomplishment. I found the afterword of the book most fascinating, and I would have loved a sequel to the book in which Christie explored the rest of Eleanor’s story, particularly her marriage to Henry and her connection to English history.
Overall, this is a book I would recommend to anyone who loves romantic historical fiction.
To Be Queen is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.