The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick
(Summary taken from an email the publisher sent me) "Young Eleanor has a bright future as the heiress to wealthy Aquitaine. But when her beloved father dies, childhood is suddenly over. Forced to marry Prince Louis of France, she barely adjusts before another death catapults them to King and Queen. Leaving everything behind, young Eleanor must face the complex and vivacious French court – and all of its scandals."
I usually enjoy historical fiction, and so I was excited to read this book. I haven't ever heard of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and so it was fun to get to know her story through this book. First off, I can't imagine getting married at 13. No Way!!! Ok, now that I got that off my chest we can get back to the story. This book is written well. The descriptions are well done, but not over-the-top, it flows well, and the conversations are interesting and easy to understand. The characters are developed well, especially Alienor (Eleanor). I liked her character a lot. Some of the things she did and the attitudes she had drove me crazy, but just a few. She was very bold for a woman during that time period, she knew when she had to follow tradition and when she could blaze her own trail. I liked her personality and felt sorry for her during the hard times. She had a few moments when she was a little dramatic, but luckily they weren't the norm. Louis was crazy. Definitely crazy. That's all I need to say about him. I'm soooooo glad I wasn't married to him. I started off liking Petronella, but didn't really like her towards the end. Some of it she may not have been able to help, but she got a little obsessive. I liked Henry, for the most part. I hoped for Alienor that he decided to be a little more faithful to her, but did like his character. The story line is engaging and kept me turning the pages to see what would happen. There's romance, scandal, love, treason, fighting, chivalry, deception, prayer, and so much more. I also liked learning the actual known history surrounding Eleanor and those in the story.
There might be a couple of swear words, but that is it. It is clean language-wise. There is some minor fighting and a little bit of violence, but not too bad. However, there is a lot of love-making and "intimacy" in this book. A lot. There is some that is sanctioned by marriage and some that is not. There is a lot of talk of "consummating a marriage" and lots about "making an heir." There are affairs and secret meetings along with marriage nights and marriage beds. There are some scenes that are very descriptive and others that aren't, but just know that there is an abundance of love-making scenes and discussions about it. It is a theme that permeates the entire book. For the most part, it didn't deter me from reading the book. Most of it was tastefully done and I can see how that would be a big part of a woman's life during that time period.
I enjoyed this book. There were some fun surprises and other moments that may have been more predictable, but it came together well and I was pleasantly surprised. I would recommend it, with the previously mentioned warnings.
Rating: R (Very little language and violence, but LOTS of love-making scenes and discussions)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.