Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Historical Fiction Virtual Tours Book Review: His Last Mistress

Author: Andrea Zuvich
Title: His Last Mistress
Publisher: Createspace
Publish Date: May 20, 2013
Book Blurb: Set in the tumultuous late 17th Century, His Last Mistress tells the true story of the final years of James Scott, the handsome Duke of Monmouth, and his lover Lady Henrietta Wentworth.

As the illegitimate eldest son of King Charles II, the Duke is a spoiled, lecherous man with both a wife and a mistress. However, this rakish libertine is soon captivated by the innocence of young Lady Henrietta Wentworth, who has been raised to covet her virtue. She is determined to spurn his advances, yet she cannot deny the chemistry between them. Will she succumb? At the same time, the Duke begins to harbour risky political ambitions that may threaten not only his life but also that of those around him. His Last Mistress is a passionate, sometimes explicit, carefully researched and ultimately moving story of love and loss, set against a backdrop of dangerous political unrest, brutal religious tensions, and the looming question of who will be the next King. 

Review:  The story of the Duke of Monmouth and Lady Henrietta Wentworth isn't one with a happy ending, but it is a tale of two lovers and one man's quest for the throne of England.

As I first settled in to reading His Last Mistress, I thought I was reading a much shorter version of Dangerous Liaisons. I believe that novel was set in the same time period as Monmouth and Wentworth. The Duke is very much like Valmont in his actions, and in Henrietta who also seems a lot like Madame De Tourvel he found a woman that brought his goodness out.

Henrietta is a character you can easily like. She wants to be good, yet she is tempted and how could you not be? The Duke of Monmouth was a handsome man, much like his father Charles II. He could have any woman he wanted.

I only wish there were more details of how the two finally became lovers, especially has Henrietta was betrothed at the time Monmouth was pursuing her.

What Zuvich does really well is paint a picture of the political climate at the time. Charles has named his brother James as heir to the throne over Monmouth, because the Duke is his illegitimate child. James, however is a Catholic and in Protestant England, this doesn't sit well with the masses, unfortunately those masses don't help Monmouth get the throne. 

His story is a tragedy. The Duke seems more a fun loving libertine, rather than a ruler, and Zuvich paints him as one led by others to his downfall, when he tries to oust his uncle.

Henrietta then succumbs to a broken heart at the age of 25.

This isn't a happy story, though it is a story of two people very much in love and two people very important in the Stuart era. (Really Charles I and Charles II are far more interesting than the Tudors).

I wish the story had been longer, because I loved getting to know more about these two and their sad ill fated love.

Rating: 5 flowers

Andrea ZuvichABOUT THE AUTHOR   Born in Philadelphia in 1985 to Chilean-Croatian parents, Andrea Zuvich is a historian specialising in the Late Stuarts of the Seventeenth Century and is the creator and writer of the history website, The Seventeenth Century Lady. Andrea studied History and Anthropology at both the University of Central Florida and Oxford University, and has been independently researching the 1600s since 2008. Andrea is a leader on and one of the original developers of The Garden History Tours at Kensington Palace, Historic Royal Palaces, and lives with her English husband in Lancashire, England. For more information, please visit Andrea’s website. You can also follow her on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.


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