My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts...
Rose Bride is the the last installment of Elizabeth Moss’s Lust in the Tudor Court series, which I just finished. I’ve been really enjoying the author’s writing style and how history is melded in this series with a healthy dose of naughtiness thrown in it. Unfortunately, can’t say I enjoyed Rose Bride as much as I thought I would.
Book 1, Wolf Bride, is the story of Eloise Tyrell, a lady-in-waiting of former Queen Anne Boleyn. When she was betrothed to the cold and aloof Lord Wolf, she wasn’t expecting anything but a miserable married life. She had a sweetheart in court but it didn’t work out. Even though their married life wasn’t a bed of roses, Wolf and Eloise came to know each-other and acknowledged the love blooming between them. For that they had to weather some storms in their relationship; some stemmed from Eloise’s own lack of self-confidence. She was always thinking Wolf will ditch her for another court beauty, leaving her lonely in his estate. When Wolf’s one-time love, and the source of much scandal in the court, Margerie Croft suddenly returns, Eloise’s insecurities grew twofold. But Margerie had no intentions of snagging Wolf once again, and she extends her help when Wolf needed to move the attention of lecherous King Huge Henry from his wife. Other troubles came because Wolf wasn’t a man of words and he could be pretty curt and rude, hurting Eloise more than once in the process. Though their sex life was superb, the lack of communication sometimes could be painfully apparent.
The climax of the story comes with the execution of Anne Boleyn and the King courting Lady Jane Grey within weeks of it. Though Wolf was one of the King’s closest people, he didn’t agree with his verdict where Anne was concerned. Eloise’s life came under threat due to her connection with her but Wolf did his best to save her from the gallows. Overall, I really enjoyed book 1 and was waiting for the next installment, Rebel Bride.
I couldn’t blame Eloise for her lack of self-confidence as her father was an a-hole of the first order and he abused both his daughters Eloise and Susannah to submit to his wishes. Though Eloise escaped that by going to the court and working for Queen Anne, the youngest Susannah was left alone with Lord Tyrell. In book 1, she was seen on and off during Eloise’s wedding. It was also apparent that something was blooming between Susannah and Wolf’s right-hand man and close buddy, Hugh Beaufort. When the news reached that Susannah is in trouble, Hugh jumps in to help her without a second thought.
Susannah decided to run away to save herself from her father’s tyranny and the fact that he was planning to force her in a marriage with a friend of his; an old man she had no interest in. She was already pretty obsessed with Hugh. When finally he finds her, one thing led to another and they end up having sex. And from there, trouble begins dogging their steps. Hugh returns her to Eloise at the court and offers marriage, which was only logical. But Susannah rejects it saying she wants to be an independent woman and willing to be his mistress instead. Uh. Well, of course that venture didn’t go well for Susannah. Her stubborn and rash nature put her in more trouble than one. She already garnered a dubious reputation and men were flocking at her for all the wrong reasons. If that didn’t spell ‘trouble’, then I don’t know what does! At times I wanted to smack her on the head to see reason. Hugh, the poor guy, couldn’t stay away and saved her from every scrape she’d gotten herself into, including a night at a drunken King’s boudoir. Thankfully she was saved before something drastic happened.
Hugh had good intentions but unhappy at her refusal. He was duly confused why she wouldn’t marry him, yet would have sex with him with much enthusiasm. I would say, Susannah was more than a little confused and a spoiled brat to boots. I spend the book being irritated at her most of the time, so that one didn’t go well for me. I did love the last couple of pages when FINALLY Susannah started seeing reason after finding herself pregnant with Hugh’s child. He was already in the Tower, thanks to her horrible father who accused Hugh of kidnapping Susannah to get him into trouble, did make her afraid for his life. Lord Tyrell wanted Susannah back so he could marry her off for money, then dumped her knowing she’s pregnant. Someone needed to soundly thrash that guy, ugh! Thankfully he had no hold over either of his daughters once they were married.
Margerie was also seen in book 2 but she didn’t have a lengthy presence. Actually, the story of book 3 was already in motion by the time Susannah came to live with Eloise in the court. And no matter her reputation, Margerie was never an evil woman. She just had horrible bad luck in her love life. In book 1, bits and pieces of her affair with Wolf, which took place years and years ago (both were very young), is told, which made me wary of reading her book. It’s not often that we find an installment on one of the hero’s mistresses but there it was! However, in helping Wolf, she proved that she bore him no ill-will, even though he was equally to blame for her ruined reputation.
In Rose Bride, we get to know more about Wolf and Margerie’s fateful affair that not only ruined her reputation, but also made her a pariah at the court. Though Wolf proposed marriage, Margerie ran away with another man because she thought Wolf wasn’t the man for her. Her rash decision came back to haunt her more than once ever since. Now, years later, finally she could return to court. While Wolf’s presence caught her by surprise, it wasn’t the same anymore. She was happy for him and happily helped him so his wife is out of trouble with the King. Of course, if King wanted Eloise and demanded her ‘companionship’, Wolf could’ve done nothing to stop it. All it took was a bit of tactics from Margerie and one of her friends, a known fallen woman of the court.
When book 2 ended, Henry had already married Jane Grey and was trying for the much elusive heir, but without any success at all. It was not a good sign and everybody knew that well, with Queen Anne’s execution still fresh in their minds. The Royal Physicians were working day and night to find a solution so Henry’s puny little dinky can perform and bring forth a son (I hate this guy so yeah, I like making up names for him). Virgil Elton, an apprentice to the head physician, had a potion in mind that’d require some exotic herbs. With Henry’s permission, they set to work to make this potent potion a reality.
But when the potion is finally mixed, Virgil can’t give it to Henry right away! He needs to use it on himself and see if it works or not. If anything goes wrong, it’d be his head where Queen Anne’s was a few months ago. But how? He didn’t wanna seek out whores to experiment with and didn’t think he could ‘work on’ just any woman, however willing. Who would be willing enough, yet without any other baggage to get him in trouble, and ‘help him’ experiment this potion? Virgil needed someone, and pronto, before Henry ran out of patience.
Virgil had seen Margerie a few times, and had lusted after her much the same way any other court a-holes have. The difference was, he didn’t thought of forcing himself on her just because she was considered to be ‘ruined good’, hence easy picking. Margerie’s reputation was pretty much non-existent. Even after all these years people didn’t forget this salacious tid-bid and men started to topple one another to either win her or simply try to force their way into her bed. She tried her best to stay clear of anyone who seemed dangerous but she still found herself in trouble quite a few times. And I honestly felt for her for she was treated extremely shabbily by the courtiers.
Virgil knew all of that history. He’s been with whores and other court women in between but none has ever fascinated her like Mistress Croft. So when Margerie, one day, visits for some medicine for her sleeping disorder, one thing led to another and they were kissing as if starving. Of course, Margerie had noticed Virgil. She was quite attracted to him too. She also knew she’s wending a very treacherous path. That it might come back to haunt her again, yet she wanted him so very much that she gave into the temptation. Now Virgil had someone to experiment the potion with and he couldn’t have been happier! But he decides not to mention Margerie until she found out later, and was really hurt that he used her as a guinea pig. I hated that he didn’t feel the need to inform her any of it prior to that. She felt rather betrayed and I agreed!
After a few intense coupling, Margerie knew she was fast falling for the King’s physician. And she also knew, to him, she was nothing but a few days sport. It was obvious Virgil had no other interest in her. She didn’t know how to change his mind when most other men saw her the same way. But what hurt her the most was when, one day, Virgil’s mother and betrothed decided to drop by all of a sudden. Even Virgil didn’t know about their journey and it caught him by surprise. Margerie decides then and there that she must try to stay away from him. She didn’t want to be the reason behind a bitter, broken marriage and I applauded her for it. She was such a smart woman (maybe except where Virgil was concerned), one with a soft heart. Nothing like the evil mistresses we generally read in historical romances and it made me sad that she was going through all that just because of a youthful indiscretion!
After that, Margerie refuses to visit Virgil. In the meantime, a young lord, Munro, shows an interest in her but for a very special reason. He wanted to hire Margerie as his mistress, but only to show off. In return he offers a whole estate, something she couldn’t just ignore. Margerie didn’t want to be a chattel to any man. She knew she had no honorable future if she stays in court so an estate in her name, complete with everything else, would make her life so much easier! She was being practical by accepting Munro’s offer.
Now, Virgil didn’t take it well. He was insanely jealous yet had no interest in giving Margerie his name. But his ego was scratched without a doubt, so typical! He was sure she dumped him solely because he wasn’t as rich as Lord Munro. He had little to offer, not even a title. Virgil was so mad that he begins to feel very contemptuous, bend on hurting Margerie in the process. Just how much, we get to see next until the last chapter.
Virgil’s fiancée, Christiana, was a weak, always ill woman. She was so frail that Virgil was sure she’d die before the wedding becomes a reality. But she was his childhood best friend so he simply kept a promise. He had no interest in her in carnal sense, so a marriage was something he didn’t fancy anymore. When Christiana herself tried to steal a kiss from him, Virgil put her off saying all that excitement will make her condition even worse. Yes Christiana had a heart condition but she wanted everything any hotblooded woman wanted. Unfortunately, Virgil was never really into this marriage so he had every excuse ready to put her off. Needless to say, it left Christiana quite bitter and unhappy. It didn’t help matters when she heard of the rumor of a beautiful mistress. That had to be Virgil’s reason for straying from her! Oh the mess!! :/
So in a sense, Virgil was cheating on her. However, I wasn’t overly bothered because he and Christina was never intimate. And he didn’t cheat on Margerie either, when I’m sure he could’ve gone and slept with any other willing woman. But he was angry inside, looking for a way to hurt Margerie for her supposed betrayal. Uh, didn’t you know her ‘reputation’? Where was it said that she must be true to you? You treated her like a whore, why bother now? It’s not like you promised her anything better!
Of course, I knew Margerie wasn’t cheating on him. In fact, I don’t think she’d been with anyone else in a looong while until Virgil. Indeed, she spent her days with her grandfather before returning to court. But she also had to be practical and think of her future; however much she loved Virgil, he wouldn’t bother with her once their liaison ended. Like, IMO, I couldn’t see why she should stick to him at all so I thought she did the right thing... until one day, when she again ends up sleeping with Virgil, where he treats her pretty much like sh!t! Ugh. I was thinking wtf is up with these two!
But the worst was yet to come, when she found out she’s pregnant and had no doubt it was Virgil’s. But how was she going to make him believe that it’s his baby? There was no DNA testing so anyone could avoid their responsibilities, and the woman would suffer on her own. If that wasn’t enough, Margerie, again, was attacked by the same a-hole who has been after her since she stepped foot in the court. Thankfully, Wolf and Hugh come to her rescue. Virgil gets involved rather heavily when the news reached him, aaaand it gets him in big trouble. If Wolf hadn’t stepped in, he would’ve been imprisoned for God knows how long!
Margerie decides to confide to someone, who broke the news of her pregnancy to the world, landing her and Munro in trouble. After all, she pretty much flaunted herself with Munro in the past months. Munro, though, out and out refused to take any responsibility. I was really angry at him, but at the same time, we knew he wasn’t the father. But IMO she should’ve been mad by just how fast he washed his hands off of her. He didn’t even bother to give her that estate he promised! Regardless of all the drama, I was completely taken aback when Virgil agrees to marry her on spot. A few days ago, he’d broken his engagement to Christiana so he was free to do so, though I’m not even sure why he wanted to.
Meanwhile, under the circumstances, Wolf had offered his protection to Margerie to try and repair some of the damage that has been done to her so far. This was his chance to redeem himself; a way to make amends long overdue. Even with her initial disagreement, Margerie knew that Wolf’s protection will keep her much safer, because, alone, she doesn’t even stand a chance. She refused to name Virgil as the father for fear of what may befell him. Can you even imagine? But everyone already had their suspicions, and Wolf knew what he had to do next. It was also because of Wolf’s persuasion, Virgil was forgiven by Henry, with the permission to marry Margerie. But what Virgil didn’t believe was that the baby was his. Margerie instinctively understood his mindset and decided against trying to convince him. I mean, what’s the point when someone is determined to distrust you, right? I hated the last few chapters, seeing how horribly he treated her from their wedding night to the rest of her pregnancy. It took Munro’s guilt-ridden confession, and that promised estate, to change Virgil’s mind. What a douche!
Even though I liked the other aspects of the story, I was not fond of Rose Bride because, as the H, I expected Virgil to treat Margerie better. I definitely thought she DESERVED someone better! But Virgil wasn’t any better. He wasn’t even brave enough to acknowledge the feeling he obviously had for her because of her ruined reputation. Meh. I was SO disappointed that I even left this off for quite a few months, hoping things will change when I pick it up again. Unfortunately it didn’t. 3 stars but barely made it.