Publication Date: 1st March 2013
Book Source: Thanks to Harlequin Mira & NetGalley
Synopsis: 1415. The Battle of Agincourt is over, and the young princess Katherine de Valois is the prize to be offered to Henry V of England. The innocent Katherine is smitten with Henry, but soon understands that her sole purpose is to produce an heir to unite England and France. When Henry leaves her a widow at the age of 21, Katherine is forced to resign herself to a quiet life as the Dowager Queen; her duty is to raise her son, the young King of England, and little more.
But Katherine is still young and passionate. Many desire her, and her hand in marriage is worth a kingdom. Setting aside those driven by ambition, Katherine falls in love with her servant Owen Tudor, and glimpses the happiness that love can bring. But their enemies are circling, all battling for power and determined to prevent their marriage. Katherine will have to fight to control her own destiny…
In this compelling and beautifully written book, Anne O’Brien tells the story of the innocent young princess, Katherine de Valois, a pawn in a ruthless political game between England and France, and the woman who founded the most famous royal dynasty of all – the Tudors
Anne O'Brien gives readers insight into the life and heart of Katherine de Valois, neglected daughter of King Charles VI of France and Isabeau of Bavaria and largely forgotten Queen to King Henry V and grandmother to the Tudor dynasty.
When Henry dies leaving Katherine widowed at 21, her Valois bloodline and position as Dowager Queen and mother to young King Henry are sacrosanct. According to Gloucester and the Royal Council Katherine's conduct must be morally exemplary, ensuring her son's Kingship and stability of the kingdoms of England and France.
The Forbidden Queen is seen through Katherine's eyes as she follows her heart. Her determination is not expended for power or position but in her quest for happiness and intense yearning to be loved.
I found the time spent on Katherine's infatuation with the weasel Edmund Beaufort, frustrating, a little repetitive and melodramatic but I was completely captivated when she fell in love with Owen Tudor, Welsh squire and Master of the Queen's Household. Scandalous yes but I cheered them on as they defied Parliament and married, standing together in the fight for true love.
Since this was Katherine's story not an account of the political and religious struggles of the time what I really wanted was more of Owen and Katherine's story, sadly their happiness was squeezed into the last quarter of the novel.
On a side note: Katherine's mother, Isabeau is portrayed as a heartless mother and promiscuous, ruthlessly ambitious Queen Consort to mad King Charles. Accurate or powerful woman maligned? ... I'd love to read more.