Audrey Malte, born about 1528 and raised at court by the king’s tailor, John Malte, was led to believe she is Malte’s illegitimate daughter when, in fact, her father is King Henry VIII. When she reaches marriageable age, she begins to realize, from the way certain people behave toward her, that Malte is keeping secrets from her, and she sets out to discover the truth. Her quest involves the best and the worst of the courtiers, among them a man with whom she falls in love.
Unfortunately, Malte has already entered into negotiations for her betrothal to someone else, and Audrey guesses the truth about her legacy when the king settles property on her, jointly with Malte. Marriage is definitely in Audrey’s future, but will it be to the man she wants to wed?
I’m still not sure how I feel about Royal Inheritance. On the one hand, I appreciate that it was written about the ‘middle class,’ which is an area of Tudor court life that doesn’t often get attention. I liked reading about Audrey’s life and her place in that setting. The book was quite slow and meandering, very slice-of-life, but it was an interesting life to read. Audry’s position let us get glimpses of the court and the people there, but by and large, she was focused on her family and the goings-on of other artisans like her father. All of that was vividly described and fascinating.
My one complaint, though, was that the book never lived up to its title concept. It’s supposed to be all about how being the king’s bastard was dangerous, but the only danger ever posed to Audrey was that she might have to marry a guy she vaguely disliked. Other than that, she was showered with presents and a distinct lack of responsibilities. Towards the end, there was a legitimately tense situation where she got caught up in the Mary vs. Elizabeth conflict due to her relations to both women, but by that part she was already married and the whole thing was glossed over in a summary that lasted barely a chapter. Basically, as soon as she had her man, the rest of her life was sped over as if it was less important, even though that’s the part that had all the interesting machinations. That irritated me.
Rating: 3 out of 5