Elizabeth’s court in miniature.

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QUEEN ELIZABETH'S DAUGHTER

Queen Elizabeth I, who remained unmarried and childless, made her surrogate child’s life miserable, according to Barnhill’s second novel about her Boleyn ancestors. 

Elizabeth takes a personal interest in the upbringing of Mary Shelton, her second cousin on the Boleyn side, raised at court after the deaths of her parents. Set during the period shortly before Mary, Queen of Scots is deposed, and leading up to the discovery of an alleged assassination plot instigated by papal bull and led by Queen Mary and her Catholic adherents, the pace is ponderous, as life in Elizabeth’s court is examined in exhaustive and exhausting detail. The queen’s wardrobe is painstakingly described, as are her beauty regimen (plenty of whiteface), sleep rituals (assisted by Mary Shelton’s specially brewed elixirs), and her long-term unconsummated but jealous liaison with “Sweet Robin,” the royal nickname for Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Aside from the Catholic plot and other matters of state, which are kept largely in the background, the main conflict concerns Elizabeth’s nuptial plans for Mary Shelton. Mary prefers handsome Sir John Skydemore, a widower and father of five who is not noble enough (at least in lineage) to suit Elizabeth’s lofty ambitions for her ward. If a foreign, alliance-cementing prince can’t be found (and at 38, the queen has not lost hope of snaring one of those herself), Edward de Vere, the powerful Earl of Oxford, is the queen’s choice for Mary. However, in addition to being too old, Edward is a known rake seemingly bent on compromising Mary’s virtue. As Mary and John grow increasingly reckless, Oxford, stung by Mary’s rejection, plots her downfall. As the celibacy the queen imposes on herself and others takes its toll, dramatic tension is finally introduced. 

Elizabeth’s court in miniature.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-04379-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Complications abound in this well-crafted, light holiday romance.

CHRISTMAS AT LITTLE BEACH STREET BAKERY

Talented baker Polly Waterford doesn’t know what to do when her best friend, Kerensa, swears her to secrecy. Kerensa’s drunken one-night stand may jeopardize not only her pregnancy, but also her marriage, not to mention Polly’s engagement to Huckle.

Fans of Colgan's (The Café by the Sea, 2017, etc.) Mount Polbearne stories will delight—and new fans will find an easy, charming entry into the saga—as Polly, Huckle, and Neil (the puffin) return for the Christmas season. Having survived the dissolution of her graphic design business, Polly is now happily ensconced with Huckle, whose honey business is not yet thriving, in the historic lighthouse they bought in the sweet Cornish village (practically an island) whose only road to civilization is submerged under the sea twice each day. As the yuletide season approaches, however, Polly must face a bewildering number of obstacles. Is she ready to marry Huckle? Is she ready to start a family? How can she know when her own father abandoned her before she was even born? How can she give up an entire day’s profits to the Mount Polbearne Christmas fair? How can she save the endangered puffin sanctuary? How will she ever bake enough for the fair plus cater a huge holiday party for Kerensa and her fabulously wealthy husband, Reuben? And how will Kerensa ever survive Reuben’s wrath if the baby turns out not to be his but some 6-foot-4 Brazilian man’s? Supported by the ever faithful Huckle and Neil's endearing eeps, Polly carries on from the cozy bed in the icy lighthouse, trailing flour and knishes wherever she goes. Keeping secrets, pleasing everyone, and balancing so many jobs keeps Polly busy—that is, until a massive winter storm threatens everything.

Complications abound in this well-crafted, light holiday romance.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-266299-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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