February 20th, 2018
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Hearts and Love, great reads in February

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The Shadow Queen

The Shadow Queen, May 2017
by Anne O'Brien

Featuring: William; Thomas; Joan
560 pages
ISBN: 1848455070
EAN: 9781848455078
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"A strong woman from the 1300s comes to life in this tale"

Fresh Fiction Review

The Shadow Queen
Anne O'Brien

Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted July 21, 2017

Romance Historical | Women's Fiction Historical

This poignant novel opening in 1340 follows the life of Joan of Kent, daughter of Margaret, Dowager Countess of Kent, who was pardoned after her husband was executed. Stripped of lands and wealth, the Countess managed to have her girls raised at Windsor, seldom seeing them but working towards restoring the family fortunes. So Joan turns out to be THE SHADOW QUEEN.

King Edward III is Joan's first cousin and he arranges a marriage for her with a young man; the girl has no say in the matter but at least the lad, William of Salisbury, is her own age. Joan has a scandalous revelation however; she has already exchanged vows with a knight who has been away at battle in Europe for six months. I admired the strong- minded girl who refuses to blame her lover Thomas for the wedding and is chastised soundly by everyone. But in the lengthy absence of her lover, and feeling the full weight of authority, Joan has no option but to wed William. Legal or not. Thomas later returns, injured, and contests the wedding; but when William's father dies in a fall while jousting, the sixteen year old couple become the Earl and Countess of Salisbury.

So the scene is set for a life of emotional turmoil. Joan is now totally dependent on her husband and must obey him, and he doesn't pay attention to her advice. Wars in France, and entertaining in London, follow. But the situation has to be put to legal challenge at last, and religious counsel as well as a Papal Bull is required. A further twist to the tale occurs when Joan's married brother dies, and has no heirs; she thus becomes Countess of Kent. Later in life, due to the many twists of the English and French noble family trees and the tendency of medieval people to die in what we now consider middle age, Joan is Princess of Wales, mother to an heir to the throne, Richard, if this child's older brother John will not stand in his way, that is. Complicated? Yes. Be prepared for reversals of fortune, fevers, battles, sly manipulation at Court, envy, plots, and more.

Anne O'Brien, from England, adds at the back, a list of historic sites relating to Joan. She explains what drew her to write about Joan, THE SHADOW QUEEN, a figure of much speculation, among the several historical works she has penned. Her book is thoroughly researched and the medieval lifestyle is well described. Lovers of historical romance will find characters springing to life on the pages.

Learn more about The Shadow Queen


A tale of treachery, power-hungry families and legal subterfuges, in which Joan, a woman of considerable charm and beauty, played a central role at the heart of the Plantagenet Court.

Her reputation is one of beauty, scandal and rumour.

Her royal blood makes her a desirable bride.

Her ambition and passion make her a threat.

She is mother to the child-king Richard II.

She is the power behind the throne.

She is Joan of Kent – the Shadow Queen

A tale of treachery, power-hungry families and legal subterfuges, in which Joan, a woman of considerable charm and beauty, played a central role at the heart of the Plantagenet Court.

‘What would enhance the pattern of my life further? One word slid into my

mind. A seductive word. A dangerous word, perhaps, for a woman. Power.’

A dramatic story of love and loyalty and of the cost of personal ambition.

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