History and romance can be interwoven. Add an intriguing figure and you the perfect combination for an historical romance. Cecelia Holland gives us a unique perspective on the early figure of Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Secret Eleanor.
This is not a biography of Queen Eleanor. It is not an account from those around her. It is, as the author says, “a novel interpretation” of what little we know of Eleanor. It gives a “what if” scenario.
It all begins in the last year of her reign as Queen of France. She has been married fifteen years and has given Louis VII two daughters. Life is boring for her in France. It is even more difficult for her with a husband who was not one to command respect and let others lead him down any path. She is still a young woman at the age of thirty and is a ravaging beauty. Her love affairs become legendary as does her fair and wise diplomatic acts.
This book covers many historical facts but opens the door to possibility of the truths of rumors that circulated during Eleanor’s time and right after her death in 1204. Her romance with Henry of Anjou, soon to be Henry II of England causes quite a stir in Europe and possibly could have helped give Henry VIII some leverage in divorcing Katherine.
Holland is telling the tell of Eleanor, but in reality the story is more about the secret Eleanor, her sister Petronilla. It is Petronilla that comes to Eleanor’s rescue time and time again even acting as a double to save her sister’s life and to help protect her darkest secrets. Reading this book you will learn a little more about the infamous queen, but you will learn more about her sister that history has glossed over down through the years.
Keep in mind that this is an historical romance. There are a few steamy scenes that are described short and sweet. You will not find pages of one scene intimately described. The focus is more on the relationships and how a sister who spends her life in the shadows finds herself standing tall.
This is a very good read is you are looking for something casual and light yet with a history foundation, this is a book that would meet your needs. I was slightly disappointed that it was not more focused on more of Eleanor’s life, but considering that the woman lived long and full, it did a great job of pulling one episode of her life out and give it more attention than most have.
Another plus with this book was the author’s historical note at the end that explained what was truth and what was fiction. The discussion group questions at the end were also a great bonus. Great for book clubs. A great read for anyone who loves historical romances.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by the owner of BellaOnline.com for review purposes.