The Dark Rose by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Publisher: Re-issue by Sourcebooks Landmark 2010
Genre: Historical Fiction
Trade Paperback, 592 pages
Book Source: Sourcebooks
My Rating: 83/100
The second book in the epic bestselling Morland Dynasty series which spans from the Wars of the Roses to Queen Victoria's long reign into the courts of kings and the salons of the Regency, onto the battlefields of Culloden and the Crimea, and beyond. The turbulence of Henry VIII's reign brings passion and pain to the Morlands as they achieve ever greater wealth and prestige. Paul, great-grandson of Eleanor Morland, has inherited the Morland estates, and his son is set to be his heir.
But Paul fathers a beloved illegitimate son, and jealousy causes a destructive rift between the two half-brothers which will lead to death.
Paul’s niece Nanette becomes maid-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn, and at the court of Henry VIII witnesses first hand the events leading up to the rift with Rome, her mistress’s execution, and the further efforts of the sad, ailing king to secure the male succession. Through birth and death, love and hatred, triumph and heartbreak, the Morlands continue proudly to claim their place amongst England's aristocracy.
Paul the new master of the Morland estates is quite an interesting character. He loathes his stepbrother Jack, thinking Jack is not really his father's issue. You almost want to believe Paul, because the brothers are night and day. Paul is mean, unfriendly, and sorely unhappy, whereas Jack who handles the business side of the wool company is jovial, friendly, and everybody loves him. Paul looks at this and just seethes with jealously. It is quite sad really, especially since Jack does his best to be kind and good to Paul, even trying to ensure others don't think ill of Paul. However once tragedy strikes the Morland household, and Jack and his family are nearly wiped out, does Paul realize what he has lost, a true brother. Paul finally begins to change his ways and grows in the process.
What is really interesting with Paul, is that he does exactly what he thinks Jack is. Paul has an illegitimate son with the woman he truly loves. Another interesting item, is that Paul's great grandmother, Eleanor from book 1, had at one time silently questioned Paul's legitimacy. Eleanor thought Paul's mother trapped Ned, his father, into marrying her. However for the good of the family, Eleanor kept her thoughts to herself and made sure Paul was readied for his eventual inheritance. Basically nothing good comes from men not behaving themselves and this family is quite a mess when it comes to spousal faithfulness and such.
I generally liked the story that was taking place on the Morland estates. I enjoyed reading about the goings on within the family as well as country life. It was Nanette's side of the story that I could have done without. All the Tudor talk and aspects of King Henry VIII 's court bored me. I believe I am Tudored out. I was also not crazy with the portrayal of Anne Boleyn. Not enough fire or oopmph for my taste. I liked Nanette, but her situation I could have done without.
In light of the Tudor aspect, I stopped reading about 65% of the way through and skimmed the last 35% of the book. I just couldn't do it anymore. Sorry Miss Harrod-Eagles. I knew the series may have a clunker or two, it's the law of averages. Not every one can be a gem. I just didn't expect it to be this soon. This does not deter me from continuing on with these series though. I am still curious about what will happen with the Morlands through the ages.
For more information about Cynthia Harrod-Eagles and her series, please visit her website: http://www.cynthiaharrodeagles.com/morland1.htm
Thanks to Danielle from Sourcebooks for sending me a review copy.
2010 Challenges Met: 100+, Historical Fiction
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