I really enjoyed Blood Royal by Diana Norman. It ranks right up there with The Vizard Mask as another brilliant read. The story follows Lady Cecily Fitzhenry, whose life changes dramatically after an ill-fated decision that leaves her penniless and without any political connections or prospects.
Cecily Fitzhenry, married against her wishes, finds that her husband has invested and lost her fortune in the South Sea bubble. The only property left to her is a crumbling inn, which she turns to running with a motley collection of support, many of whom run foul of the new laws.
The story opens with the Pretender, James Stuart, secretly planning another invasion into England. Meanwhile, his followers from a previous failed attempt to take over the crown have been tried for treason and sent to prison or worse: facing death and are about to hang for it. However, the Jacobite’s are resilient and secretly re-organize themselves and are planning another attempt to take over the crown.
Lady Cecily Fitzhenry is torn because a few of her family members are Jacobite sympathizers. A dangerous situation considering her connections to the royal family. Lady Cecily has Jacobite sympathies but tries her best to distant herself from them. Unfortunately, she is a reluctant participant in a scheme to help a Jacobite uncle of hers escape from prison, only to be caught later. Needless to say, the King is embarrassed by the incident and allows his prime minister, Robert Walpole to mete out justice. Quickly, Lady Cecily is married off against her wishes to a commoner. Punishment indeed for Lady Cecily as she is the laughing stock of many of her peers. Thus, she makes the best of the situation until things get progressively worst.
Then suddenly, the South Sea Bubble bursts leaving many prospectors without money or home. Lady Cecily is a victim as well since her husband lost all of her money, well all of his money since they are married and wives didn’t own property and also he lost her family home. Many prospectors tried to commit suicide or they left England to escape debtor’s prison and much worst. Unfortunately for Lady Cecily, her husband tries to commit suicide, botches the whole thing and becomes a burden. Penniless and homeless, her husband is soon arrested and put in debtors prison.
Cecily and her sister-in-law, Dolly, stay with him, nurse him and take care of him as best they can until their funds run out. Lady Cecily reluctantly contemplates abandonment since she’s run out of ideas and refuses to use her body to barter. Then her husband’s lawyer, Archibald Cameron shows up and pays off his debts and soon they are released from prison.
Cameron tells Cecily and Dolly that he has found lodgings for them, that turn out to be in the middle of nowhere. With no place else or no one else to turn to – they make the most of it and convert it into an Inn. Lady Cecily vows revenge against the King’s Prime Minister, Robert Walpole. Walpole becomes the sole reason for her to survive and beat him at his own game. Cecily sees as her only weapon to hurt Walpole is to help the Jacobite’s. It’s a very dangerous decision and one that causes Cameron much strife. In true Norman fashion, the story really takes off and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep you turning the pages.
And yes, there is a happily ever after.
This is another wonderful novel that has a sweet romance in it. I really enjoyed this novel for several reasons: Historical facts and the incorporation of real historical figures like Robert Walpole who was prime minister for the King for years. Most of Walpole’s laws were ridiculous on it’s face but many commoners were caught and persecuted because of them.
Archibald Cameron is a wonderful hero who takes Lady Cecily under his wing and offers her his legal advise and eventually, his heart. This novel was an emotional punch to the gut too because of the strong storytelling skills of this author. I will say at times this novel was very gritty as the author holds nothing back in how these people lived during these precarious times. Anyway, this book was the hardest to find and I did eventually find a copy. I highly recommend this book if you can obtain a copy and my fellow readers, you will not be disappointed if you enjoy historical fiction.
[tags]Diana Norman, Blood Royal, Historical Mystery, Jacobite, The Pretender[/tags]