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Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Loves, and Passionate Politics    by Eleanor Herman order for
Sex with the Queen
by Eleanor Herman
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Lisa Respers France

This book deserves three stars just for the amount of research that obviously went into to it. Sex with the Queen is as informative as it is titillating and manages to be both gossipy and scholarly at the same time. Herman, author of the equally enjoyable romp Sex with Kings, is a writer who knows how to appeal to a generation that thrives on US Weekly and Entertainment Tonight without dummying down the history, about which she is so clearly knowledgeable and obviously enjoys.

From Queen Judith of the Franks who in the year 830 was accused of cheating on her husband King Louis the Pious and banished to a convent to England's Princess Diana who had the paternity of her second child questioned thanks to hair color being similar to one paramour and who ultimately lost her life fleeing with another lover, Herman does an exemplary job of showing the personal and political tragedies that can occur when a female royal finds love outside of the home. The author also painstakingly recreates how difficult life could be for these female monarchs given their arranged marriages (often to men who ignored them) and society's insistence that they be chaste and above reproach while their husbands were allowed to stray.

Sad as these women's lives often were, bartered by their families for political gain and in many cases prevented from raising the very children the marriage was created to produce, Herman recounts how some of them managed to find love, and sex, despite it all. The author covers quite a few of their stories, from the better known Catherine the Great of Russia who ruled her country while simultaneously keeping a string of lusty lovers to the lesser known Maria Francisca Isabel de Savoy who during the 17th century managed to evade a treacherous plan by her impotent husband King Alfonso VI of Portugal to have her raped by his friends with the hope that the ensuing pregnancy would continue his reign. Not only did Maria Francisca foil the plot, but she also ended up married to the man she wanted the much saner, handsomer and able bodied Prince Pedro.

Sex with the Queen is what more history books should be: fun, easy to read and informative. Sex, history and politics all seem to be frequent bedfellows and one can only hope that Herman has more books forthcoming.

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