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Queen By Right    by Anne Easter Smith order for
Queen By Right
by Anne Easter Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Touchstone, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Elizabeth Crowley

Set during the Hundred Years' War, Queen By Right begins with Cecily of Neville painfully recalling the details leading to the death of her husband, Richard of York. Richard and Cecily first met as children when Richard became a ward of the Neville household after his father was executed for treason against the king.

Richard, a descendant of Lionel of Clarence, has a stronger claim to the throne than King Henry VI. The king, a pious but weak man with bouts with madness, is hardly fit to rule. Although Richard is well aware of his royal blood, his father's death is a constant reminder of the fate that awaits those who attempt to take the crown. Through a series of flashbacks, Cecily tells the story of how her beloved Richard transformed from a boy who feared his father's death would taint his reputation, to a man who would attempt to rule a nation and challenge England's most powerful nobles.

Cecily was the youngest in the Neville household. Although her father often lavished attention on her, her stern mother Joan instilled pride and dignity, especially in the face of adversity. Cecily's courage and strength of character would become crucial after her marriage to Richard of York. Betrothed to Richard at the age of nine, Cecily eagerly looks forward to becoming the handsome duke's bride. When Cecily finally gets her wish, heartache and hardship await her. Cecily and Richard's arranged marriage becomes a true love match. But the Hundred Years' War and Richard's growing displeasure with England's weak king and his meddling queen, Margaret of Anjou, threaten the life Cecily envisioned.

Regardless of the lack of historical details about Cecily Neville and Richard of York, Anne Easter Smith created a flawless piece of historical fiction. Her decision to include Joan of Arc in the novel was a stroke of genius. There is no evidence Cecily and Joan ever met, but historical records indicate Cecily was in the same castle in Rouen where Joan was imprisoned. Cecily's encounter with Joan plays a crucial role in the novel. Queen By Right provides a vivid glimpse of the terrible consequences of the Hundred Years' War and the War of the Roses. However, Cecily and Richard's tender romance will also please readers who enjoy a tale of timeless love. This is a novel that has it all. British history buffs and historical romance readers could not ask for more!

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