Review: The Rogue’s Princess by Eve Edwards

England, 1586 

Mercy Hart, daughter of one of London’s wealthiest and most devout cloth merchants, is expected to marry her equal in rank and piety. Certainly not Kit Turner, a lowly actor and playboy, who also happens to be the late Earl of Dorset’s illegitimate son. But when a chance encounter throws them together, Kit instantly falls for the beautiful Mercy’s charms . . . and Mercy can’t deny the passion that Kit stirs within her. She seems ready to defy her father’s wishes–ready to renounce her family and her family name for true love. 

Then Kit finds himself accused treason. 

Will Mercy have the strength to stand by him? Or will she succumb to pressure and break his heart? 

___________________________________

I often read adult historical romance, but it wasn’t until I read Eve Edwards’ The Other Countess, the first in the Lacey Chronicles that I really liked YA historical romance. I quickly fell in love with Edwards’ writing, which manages to stay surprisingly true to history while adding a contemporary undertone that seems to alleviate the dryness that can easily dissuade readers (like me) from picking up historically accurate novels.

This particular installment of the Lacey Chronicles focuses on Kit, the illegitimate brother of the three (legitimate) Lacey brothers: Will, Tobias, and James. The three brothers are introduced in the first book, but, not having read the second book, The Queen’s Lady, this was my first real encounter with Kit.

Being illegitimate, Kit has lived a much different life than his brothers. He hasn’t had the easiest life and, when the reader meets him, he’s earning his living as an actor among the troupe that will eventually become the favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Though he does appear a bit flamboyant at the start, Kit definitely is more steadfast and serious than first appearances let on. though his love for the innocent Mercy might seem a bit improbable at first, he never wavers. My only issue with this is that the reader isn’t really given a compelling reason for his devotion. The reader knows there’s more to Mercy than prayers and minding her father, but Kit’s love seems to be based solely on her pretty face and other… endowments.

Still, Kit does make some rather drastic changes to give Mercy what he believes she deserves. In ways, his transformation mirrors that of Orlando in As You Like It. At first, Kit only shows his love through flowery verses and complimentary words, but he eventually learns that real love takes means much more and takes steps to clean up his life and prove he’s serious about Mercy. He doesn’t give up things that are fundamental parts of his life that he loves (like the theater or his flashy fashion choices), but he give up rowdy nights at the tavern and stops squandering his money.

Mercy is an interesting character. Raised in a very strict Puritan household, she spends most of her days punishing herself for impure and rebellious thoughts. And she definitely has impure thoughts about the dashing Kit… She falls for him before she’s aware he’s an actor and, therefore, someone her father would never approve of and she’s been raised to regard as un-Christian. Kit, his lifestyle, and her feelings challenge her upbringing and everything she’s ever known. I was proud of Mercy for standing up to her father and following her heart to Kit, while still staying true to herself and her religion. 

Though religion plays a big part in understanding Mercy and her actions, it isn’t overbearing. Instead it just feels natural and true to the time period. 

The Lacey Chronicles are set directly before Elizabeth I takes the throne and are pre-Shakespeare (though he does make an appearance or two in this book). It’s time period I’ve always been fascinated with, and I find that Edwards does a phenomenal job at portraying this era realistically. The Rogue’s Princess is a historical romance, but it also incorporates political and religious conflict in interesting ways, simultaneously entertaining and teaching.

Delacorte Books for Young Readers, January 2013, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780375989766, 272 pages.
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