Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: The Scandalous Duchess by Anne O'Brien

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 6th March 2014
Pages: 410
Book Source: Harlequin Mira

Synopsis: If you will be a great man’s mistress you must pay the price...

1372, The Savoy. Widow Lady Katherine Swynford presents herself for a role in the household of merciless royal prince John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, hoping to end her destitution. But the Duke’s scandalous proposition leaves her life of pious integrity reeling...

Seduced by the glare of royal adoration, Katherine becomes John’s mistress. She will leave behind everything she has stood for to play second fiddle to his young wife and ruthless ambition. She will live in the shadows of the most powerful man in England in the hope of a love greater than propriety. 

But soon the court whispers – whore, harlot, vile temptress – reach the ears of not just John’s bride but his most dangerous political enemies. As the Plantagenet prince is accused of bringing England to its knees, who better to blame than shameless she-devil Katherine Swynford? Dragged from the shadows, Katherine must answer for her sins.

My Thoughts:
One of the greatest love stories, the 25 year affair and eventual marriage of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, younger son of King Edward III. 

The story isn't new to me, I read the classic, Anya Seton's Katherine quite a few years ago and was excited to read Anne O'Brien's take on things. There's little documented of Katherine which offers an author quite a bit of freedom but Anne O'Brien grounds this fictionalised story firmly in historical events; The Black Death, the Peasants' Revolt, The Hundred Years' War.

I was once again surprised that John & Katherine's longstanding, passionate affair didn't elicit more sympathy from me, for John's wife, Constance of Castile. But, no attacks of conscience here. For me, great love definitely won over strategic alliance. 

John was one of the most charismatic and influential men of his time ... I'd have had a hard time refusing his mistress offer, even fearing for my reputation and mortal soul. HA 

John and Katherine had four 'Beaufort' children together, legitimised after their marriage, and from their descendants came the Royal Houses of York and Tudor ... a very significant couple to dynastic England.  

Through political unrest, public scandal, great shame, separation and sorrow, their love stood the test of time. 

Connect with Anne O'Brien 


  1. Sounds like a great love story

    1. a longstanding affair and a HEA, testament to their great love.

  2. This sounds like one I'd enjoy. Nice review! Adding it to my list.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by Julie, romance and history is a captivating combo!!

  4. Sounds like a wonderful read - I am unfamiliar with the story line.


Thanks for taking the time to leave some comment love, I'm a 'comment back' kinda girl. Don't forget to check the 'Notify me' box