Monday, May 23, 2011

To Be Queen by Christy English

Christy English brings to life Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor, the favorite of her father, will inherit the title Duchess of Aquitaine. Her father educated her in the treacherous ways of court, allowing her to learn his spy network and how to rule. After one successful lesson, he asks her what she would like for a reward and she replies to be Queen of France.To complete his daughter's happiness and his vision for a rule comparable to Charlemagne, William agrees.Tough negotiations begin. William insists that the lands of Aquitaine and Poitiers will remain with Eleanor and will be passed onto her eldest son. Before negotiations can come to a successful end, William must leave for a crusade. Word later reaches Eleanor that her father was poisoned while on the crusade. Knowing she must act quickly and decisively, she locks herself in her father's castle and awaits Louis, her betrothed. His arrivals brings much happiness, but the couple marry quickly to ensure a solid power base. They then leave for Paris, leaving her sister in Aquitaine. Eleanor quickly  hates Paris with its drizzle, haughty French court and the influential clergy. Eleanor, who was once hopeful over her union with Louis, is now tired of her pious and manipulated husband. To make matters worse, Louis has abandoned Eleanor's bed, laving her in a precarious position. At the churches urging, Louis returns to his marital bed and Eleanor gives birth to a daughter.After a rift starts begins to appear between Louis and the Church, Eleanor and Louis begin their  Voyage for the second Crusade. However, The Crusade turns into a curse.Louis, the indecisive king, refuses to believe Eleanor's suspicions about their hosts, while leads to a massacre of Louis' men. While Louis is fleeing for his life, Eleanor is engaged in a first night of passion. The couple and their entourage then make their way to Antioch. Eleanor finds a man with her father's eyes and a passion for Eleanor, her Uncle Raymond. Among other things, Raymond sparks a urge for freedom in the love struck Eleanor. She longs to free herself from Paris, the Parisian Church and her unlovable husband. Upon her departure with the Crusaders, Eleanor leaves her heart with her uncle in Antioch. On their journey back to France, Eleanor and Louis become separated by a storm and wash up on different shores. Louis and Eleanor journey to Rome. Eleanor hopes to procure an annulment, but Louis wants to mend their estranged relationship. The Pope blesses their union, and their vow renewal is consummated in the Pope; This union leads to Eleanor and Louis' second daughter. Eventually, Louis relents and petitions for an annulment. While waiting on the official release, Eleanor meets Henry, Duke of Normandy and sparks fly. Henry promises Eleanor a Charlemagne empire and the crown of England. Eleanor agrees, and falls in love.
Before I read this book, I knew little about Eleanor. This woman came onto my radar with a bang. Eleanor was a highly educated woman who knew what she wanted. She also practiced the arts of patience and diplomacy. But once her heart or mind were set, nothing could come between her and her desires. I'm a fool for a woman who is both shrewd and foolhardy. While Christy gives a lot of volume and detail to dresses and scenes, she focuses intently on characters and events. And I loved this! This is a wonderful book. I loved it. Now I am looking forward to learning more about Eleanor and her life.

I won this book from Alaine at Queen of Happy Endings.

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