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Reviewed by Sarah Stuart for Readers' Favorite
This story is accurately and graphically set against the bitter and bloody battles that comprise the Wars of the Roses, and the tangled politics of a disputed throne. Queen of Trial and Sorrow begins with Susan Appleyard showing Elizabeth Woodville as the placidly contented wife of Sir John Grey. On his death from battle wounds, she returned to her parents, a penniless widow with two boys clinging to her skirts. Her family opposed the upstart King Edward IV but held their peace, awaiting the victorious return of King Henry and Queen Margaret. Elizabeth awoke to true womanhood when the king kissed her hand; the mother of the princes in the tower lived a life full of passion and demanding court ceremony with her beloved Edward until his tragic death, but her lone battles were still to come.
Susan Appleyard captured my attention from Elizabeth Woodville’s opening thoughts in Queen of Trial and Sorrow, and she held it from beginning to end. I have never seen a period, a divided and battling country, or a person, brought to life so skilfully. Elizabeth lives, breathes, thinks, acts, loves, and hates with a vividness that it would be difficult to surpass. For devotees of historical novels, this is a must-read, but what of those who enjoy a sizzling romance? Young, handsome King Edward was a womanizer and Elizabeth held out for three years when he offered only a wanton liaison. So, what then? “Give me a kiss, sweetheart, and I’ll give you a crown.”