Ours to LoveA Wicked Lovers novel featuring billionaire brothers
Mention historical fiction and author Philippa Gregory's books jump to the front of the line. Among her best selling books in this genre, and there are quite a few, is the runaway hit, The Other Boleyn Girl (2002), which exemplifies her extraordinary ability to use meticulous research to bring the past alive. This powerful New York Times bestseller that tells the story of Anne Boleyn's little-known sister has been published in 26 countries with more than a million copies in print in the United States alone. A classic-in-the-making, it won the Parker Pen Novel of the Year award in 2002, and was adapted as a television drama in England and a feature film in the United States. But few readers may know that these best selling books spring from the mind of a woman who holds a Ph.D. in 18th-century literature. Clearly, historical fiction is dear to her heart, as the success of The Other Boleyn Girl led to a succession of New York Times bestsellers, among them The Queen's Fool, The Virgin's Lover, The Constant Princess, and The Boleyn Inheritance. Yet Philippa Gregory's books, her Gothic romances, in particular, were already beloved among readers. Wideacre, The Favored Child and Meridon were all great hits before she turned to historical fiction. Author Philippa Gregory, who was born in Kenya and moved to England when she was 2 years old, now lives in North England with her family. Besides writing best selling books, her other great interest is Gardens of Gambia, the charity she founded almost twenty years ago.
The Kingmaker's Daughter
The Tower of London, May 1465
My lady mother goes first, a great heiress in her own right, and the wife of the greatest subject in the kingdom. Isabel follows, because she is the oldest. Then me: I come last, I always come last. I can’t see much as we walk into the great throne room of the Tower of London, and my mother leads my sister to curtsey to the throne and steps aside. Isabel sinks down low, as we have been taught, for a king is a king even if he is a young man put on the throne by my father. His wife will be crowned queen, whatever we may think of her. Then as I step forwards to make my curtsey I get my first good view of the woman that we have come to court to honor.
She is breathtaking: the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life. At once I understand why the king stopped his army at the first sight of her, and married her within weeks. She has a smile that grows slowly then shines, like an angel’s smile. I have seen statues that would look stodgy beside her, I have seen painted Madonnas whose features would be coarse beside her pale luminous loveliness. I rise up from my curtsey to stare at her as if she were an exquisite icon; I cannot look away. Under my scrutiny, her face warms, she blushes, she smiles at me, and I cannot help but beam in reply. She laughs at that, as if she finds my open adoration amusing, and then I see my mother’s furious glance and I scuttle to her side where my sister Isabel is scowling. “You were staring like an idiot,” she hisses. “Embarrassing us all. What would Father say?”
The king steps forward and kisses my mother warmly on both cheeks. “Have you heard from my dear friend, your lord?” he asks her.
“Working well in your service,” she says promptly, for Father is missing tonight’s banquet and all celebrations, as he is meeting with the King of France himself and the Duke of Burgundy, meeting with them as an equal, to make peace with these mighty men of Christendom now that the sleeping king has been defeated and we are the new rulers of England. My father is a great man; he is representing this new king and all of England.
The king, the new king—our king—does a funny mock bow to Isabel and pats my cheek. He has known us since we were little girls too small to come to such banquets and he was a boy in our father’s keeping. Meanwhile my mother looks about her as if we were at home in Calais Castle, seeking to find fault with something the servants have done. I know that she is longing to see anything that she can report later to my father as evidence that this most beautiful queen is unfit for her position. By the sour expression on her face I guess that she has found nothing.
Nobody likes this queen; I should not admire her. It shouldn’t matter to us that she smiles warmly at Isabel and me, that she rises from her great chair to come forwards and clasp my mother’s hands. We are all determined not to like her. My father had a good marriage planned for this king, a great match with a princess of France.
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