When beautiful Lady Jane Rievaulx begins her service to the Queen at Richmond Palace, she is thrilled to see the court’s newest arrival . . . Master James Lacey.
No matter that Jane was previously courted by the eldest Lacey brother—James is the one who has won her heart. For his part, James cannot deny his fascination with Jane; his plans, however, do not allow for love. He is about to set sail on a treacherous journey to the Americas, seeking absolution for what he sees as past sins. But when Jane is forced into a terrible situation by her own family, only one man can save her. Will Master James return to his lady before it’s too late?
So this one is a like like The Other Countess in plot; Jane pines for James, James doesn’t realize it, et cetera. Jane seems more relateable since we last saw her, and James has PTSD like crazy from witnessing the Spanish slaughter of the Dutch. Will, who is now a father, wants to send James to the New World to clear his head and expand the Laceys’ interests. Jane is a widow in an Anna Nicole Smith situation-her much older stepsons are intimidating her and even corner her in a garden at one point. Jane and James spar a bit when they first meet again, as James is under the impression that Jane thinks she’s too good for the Laceys. When Jane admits that she refused Will’s suit for Ellie’s sake, James warms up to her again. So, my predictions as to plot points in this novel were as follows: Jane versus the Rievaulx sons; James versus the New World; and How James and Jane Get Married.
I was right about Jane’s stepsons, but her father comes in to spice things up a bit, and by that I mean he is completely despicable. Jane’s brother, Henry, shows up as well, sleeping with Jane’s maid again and acting generally like the sociopath he is. She is humiliated in court more than once by her stepsons and then again when her father forces her into an engagement with a very effeminate Frenchman. I cringed the whole time for her. Henry is horrible and there’s no redeeming him, in my opinion. He uses the only things Jane holds dear against her to achieve his own ends. She can’t trust anyone, not her maid, not her brother, no one.
James is dealing with a feeling of worthlessness. As I mentioned above, he has PTSD, or at least a serious case of Edward “I’m Not Good Enough For You” Cullen syndrome. He’s in love with Jane, but feels he can’t offer her peace or stability in his present state. I felt for him too, maybe even more so than Jane. There was no real psychiatry in Tudor England and certainly no anti-depressants. He has a bit of a martyr complex as well, if you ask me, which is just exacerbated by the PTSD and the feeling of being cut loose from his family now that Will has an heir.
I loved the little side plots with Diego and Christopher though. Milly seems like a sweet, if underdeveloped, character, and it was cool to see her fighting against medieval racism. I like that Edwards inserted that sort of character and gave the African foreigner a love story. I was also really touched by the scene in which Christopher meets Will and Tobias. It was really sweet and I hope we get Christopher’s story next. I’d be interested in reading less about the court and more about Cheapside and the theater.