Three girls named Elizabeth suffer pangs of frustrated love in the court of Charles II in 1662 in this story that places equal emphasis on romance and history.
Wealthy Eliza dreams of becoming a witty playwright and plans never to marry, as she believes her adoring father will never force her into a match she doesn’t want. Impoverished Beth, her noble family ruined by her profligate father, now struggles against her insane, dominating mother. Zabby, who cares only for science, arrives from Barbados and unfortunately falls in love with King Charles himself. All three Elizabeths become ladies in waiting to the new Queen Catherine. Eliza must escape somehow when she learns that her father intends to force her into marriage after all, Beth falls desperately in love with a boy whose father helped ruin her family and Zabby can only approach Charles as a friend in scientific endeavors, not as a lover. Even while writing some rather preposterous (though probably popular) romance, Sullivan works hard to keep the history realistic. She sprinkles her characters’ dialogue with idioms from the era to an extent that may confuse modern readers a bit, but she certainly paints a colorful and largely accurate portrait of Restoration London. The unusual ending, especially, anchors the book more to history than to romance.
A mixture that may well intrigue readers. (Historical romance. 12 & up)