Book Tour Review: The Queen's Rivals by Brandy Purdy

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Title: The Queen's Rivals
Author: Brandy Purdy
Genre: historical fiction
Series:  N/A
Pages: 368
Published: June 25 2013
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating: 4/5

Their ambitions were ordinary, but they were born too close to the throne...

As cousins of history's most tempestuous queens, Ladies Jane, Katherine, and Mary Grey were born in an age when all of London lived beneath the Tower's menacing shadow. Tyrannized by Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen, the sisters feared love was unthinkable —and the scaffold all but unavoidable...

Raised to fear her royal blood and what it might lead men to do in her name, Mary Grey dreads what will become of herself and her elder sisters under the reigns of Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I. On their honor, they have no designs on the crown, yet are condemned to solitude, forbidden to wed. Though Mary, accustomed to dwelling in the shadows, the subject of whispers, may never catch the eye of a gentleman, her beautiful and brilliant sisters long for freedoms that would surely cost their lives. And so, wizened for her years, Mary can only hope for divine providence amid a bleak present and a future at the whim of the throne — unless destiny gains the upper hand.

A gripping and bittersweet tale of broken families and broken hearts, courage and conviction, The Queen's Rivals recounts an astonishing chapter in the hard-won battle for the Tudor throne.

Brandy Purdy easily reels in her audience with this latest taut, well-crafted historical fiction novel. A dense, detailed story, this close look at the lives of the Grey sisters is sure to entertain fans of Tudor historical fiction. Focusing closely on one of the most overlooked characters in the Tudor era, I found a lot to enjoy in Purdy's use of Mary Grey for narrator. Using the narrative frame of an older Mary looking back on the tumultuous years that shaped her and her sisters destinies, the author provides a new outlook on a well-known and often-written about series of events that would help define the reigns of two Tudor monarchs.

The lives of the Grey sisters were never easy. From their life with their strong-willed, royal, and intransigent mother Frances Grey (daughter of King Henry VIII's sister Mary) the "brilliant one" (Jane), the "beautiful one" (Kate), and "the beastly one" (Mary) to their lives as married women, none of the three sisters was ever fully in control of their own lives. Most historical fiction fans know what happens to the most infamous of the three, and it is well that her death comes rather early on in the novel. With more than a hundred pages left after Jane's beheading, the author has more time and pages to flesh out the lives of her lesser-known but just as compelling sisters.

And it is Kate and Mary that carry the novel and help keep it from being reminiscent of other Tudor historical fiction novels. For all that Purdy presents Jane, the Nine Days' Queen, as more than she is remembered for - a teenage martyr - it is her siblings that provide the most interest and sympathy for the audience. Despite their myriad differences in opinions and actions, the sisters' lives all share remarkable similarities. All three girls are guilty of making the wrong decisions -- decisions which land each imprisoned or closely guarded at some point in their lives, and which keep them from their hearts' desires.

The Queen's Rivals takes subtle pains to showcase the uncertainty that all those with royal blood face in the Court of their reigning cousins. Neither "Bloody Mary" nor the "Virgin Queen" are close to their cousins, but regard them as turncoats and traitors or favorites and heirs, depending on day-to-day circumstances. The author makes some interesting choices with her fiction - notably the treatment of the girls father, The Duke of Suffolk, and with Jane relationship to her husband Guildford, as well as Mary's lovelife, but it is readily believable (if not historical fact) in the circumstances Purdy recreates.

A rousing blend of fiction and fact, religion and love, The Queen's Rivals is a detailed and atmospheric read. The benefit of a fresh narrator in such a popular time is immediately apparent and will help to keep this novel quite memorable for the reader. Dense, descriptive, Brandy Purdy captures the feelings and lives of these people ably and spins a plot that will keep fans turning the page with alacrity.

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Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, June 17
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading

Tuesday, June 18
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, June 20
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Monday, June 24
Review & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, June 27
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Librarian

Monday, July 1
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, July 3
Review & Giveaway at The Musings of ALMYBNENR

Friday, July 5
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Monday, July 8
Review at A Book Geek

Tuesday, July 9
Review & Giveaway at One Book at a Time

Friday, July 12
Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Monday, July 15
Review & Giveaway at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, July 17
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Giveaway at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Thursday, July 18
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, July 19
Review at Psychotic State Book Reviews

Monday, July 22
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review & Giveaway at Bippity Boppity Book

Tuesday, July 23
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, July 24
Review & Giveaway at My Reading Room

Monday, July 29
Review & Giveaway at The Broke and the Bookish

Wednesday, July 31
Review & Giveaway at Always with a Book

Monday, August 5
Review & Giveaway at Tanzanite’s Castle Full of Books

Wednesday, August 7
Review & Giveaway at Cheryl’s Book Nook


  1. "A dense, detailed story, this close look at the lives of the Grey sisters is sure to entertain fans of Tudor historical fiction."
    Tudor drama is pretty scandalous and kind of entertaining. (Random thought: I just added a YA book that was pitched as Shadow and Bone meets the Tudors; if you enjoyed this/are comparing to the Tudors, maybe you'll enjoy that too?)

    "none of the three sisters was ever fully in control of their own lives."
    :( I already feel for them even without reminiscing on Jane's beheading. It sounds like the author's got a great talent with characterization, and the other two sisters get to shine in this novel, despite the shadow of their sister's death.

    You seem to know a lot about Tudor history--is that in the book or from you? (Re: portrayal of father, etc.)

    Oh, wow, this one had an extensive blog tour. I can understand why, seeing as how you enjoyed it so much :).

    1. That sounds like a perfect book for me. I love Shadow and Bone and Tudor fiction is one of my favorites.

      That's putting it perfectly. Most of the attention the Grey family gets is due to Jane's beheading, or her mother's royal descent. The other two are just as interesting, if overlooked.

      The book does have a lot of information on the Tudors, but a lot of what I know comes from research and other readings I've done. I've always been fascinated with The Wars of the Roses and the Tudor dynasty.


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