Tudor Christmas Tidings is an anthology of three novellas celebrating Christmas at various points during the Holiday season. I have to admit, I’ve been looking forward to reading this anthology since I’m a huge Tudor buff – like super huge – like it was my focus in College. I’ve always loved the period and I was excited that this book was going to cover some of the lesser known times in Tudor history.
As I do with all anthologies, I’m going to review each story individually and then average it to get my final star total.
Here we go!
Christmas at Court - Blythe Clifford
Initially set not long after the death of Edward IV and the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, this story follows Alice and John as they navigate Christmas in Richard III’s court. Betrothed by their families to aid in Henry Tudor’s claim, they must determine if the other is to be trusted or if their feelings and words are false.
I liked this story from Blythe Clifford. I could tell it was well researched (yay sumptuary laws). The Lancaster family uniting with a avowed Yorkist one is interesting. I liked Alice throughout most of the novella and John was okay. But I felt like the story was more about the history and not enough about the romance. Basically, It was good. Four stars.
Secrets of the Queen’s Lady - Jenni Fletcher
Long ago, Pippa helped a young Kit find his way in Henry Tudor’s court. Now several years later they meet again, this time with Pippa a widow and a lady in Anne of Cleves' household and him a career diplomat in Henry VIII’s service. Kit’s there to extend the invitation for the king’s beloved sister and her household to join him at court for the Christmas festivities. Will Pippa and Kit overcome the obstacles in their way to find the path to true love?
I… didn’t like this story. At all. As much as I’m here for older woman/younger man relationships and I’m 100% here for children not being every couple’s HEA, I was not here for all of the contrivances and deus ex machinas that existed in this story. Like seriously, there were so many… from the initial meeting to pretty much every meeting thereafter. Even the ending was a deus ex machina with a previously antagonistic character, like I’m talking the story’s primary antagonist, deciding for no good reason that they’ll help the two lovers be together. This is after they’ve tried to keep them apart, and there’s no good reason for the heel-face revolution. I also didn’t like Pippa or Kit very much. Pippa was very passive in her own story and Kit was way too impetuous. This was also the story where I found the most egregious historical inaccuracy. Namely they refer to Henry’s separation from Catherine of Aragon as a ‘divorce’ whereas if they were both the consummate courtiers that they should be in Henry VIII’s court during Catherine Howard’s tenure as queen, they should know that it was referred to as an annulment not a divorce. Divorce would have made Mary legitimate and at this time she was not. I did like Anne of Cleves (she’s one of my favorites of Henry’s queens… behind Catherine Parr and Anne Boleyn) she reminded me a lot of of Elsa Lancaster in the Private Lives of Henry VIII – which was good since that’s who the author based her off of. But even an awesome Anne couldn’t save this.
His Mistletoe Lady - Amanda McCabe
Not long after Wyatt’s Rebellion, Catherine and her mother journey to Queen Mary’s court to celebrate the holiday season. There, they hope to find a way to free Catherine’s father who has been branded a traitor, but little do they know just how much of their fate is tied up with the mysterious Diego, a new courtier from the Spanish courts.
I liked this story quite a lot. It had the best and most believable romance arc of the three stories in this book and I felt it had the best characters. I really liked Diego and Catherine and I liked that Catherine very much had agency in her choices.
I also liked the historical parallels between characters that were changed enough that unless you are super familiar with the history you wouldn’t notice them. It was nice seeing a story where Mary I isn’t vilified and where you can see her for the often kind woman she was. Because she was kind, kinder in several ways than either of her siblings or her father. Basically, I really felt this was the best story in the bunch.
All of the stories feature some mild kissing and period appropriate cursing. There is implied sex, but nothing is seen on the page.
This was a fun little read before the holidays.
3.66667 stars rounded up to Four Stars
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I received an arc via NetGalley