GS vs STA: Tudor Romance

Good Shit vs Shit to AvoidKyra and I were emailing regarding her review, and I asked her what Tudor romances she recommends as the “best ever.” She says, “I don't have a “best ever” Tudor romance or author yet … I'm only recently embracing the sub-genre, which is still a rare cat compared to Regency.”

The devil you say!

I remember reading more Tudor romances years ago, but then, Blaze Wyndham (SB Grade: B+) was one of two books I brought with me to Spain as an exchange student — both times. Oh, exchange students with your digital books, I envy you.

Anyway, Blaze Wyndham is my bar for Tudor romance, both in the complete overwhelming crazysauce of some of the antics of Blaze and her sisters, and in the full immersion into Bertice Small's version of Henry VIII's court (and speaking of crazysauce, boy howdy).

But when I think of other Tudor romances I've read, there aren't many (Blaze must have cast a long shadow) and they weren't particularly memorable in a good way.

So I thought to ask y'all: which Tudor romances do you love most? Are there any you adore or re-read or recommend to others? As Kathe Robin from RT says, we've been reading about the Regency for twice as long as the actual Regency existed, but what about the Tudors? Twice the fabric, three times the drama? What Tudor romances do you recommend — or suggest readers avoid?

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    ADL says:

    I see that Blaze Wyndham is now available for the Kindle, although at a much higher price point than what I normally purchase books for. Wondering if I should pull the trigger…

  2. 2
    ms bookjunkie says:

    You can’t go wrong with Virginia Henley. Her books are chock full of history, with (what used to be) really hot smexytimes to help with the history overload. (These days her smexytimes are perhaps only average hot to hot?)

    Also, warning: Though there’s an HEA in her books and they are romances, they are sometimes saga-ish because she does often write about real historical people as main characters, or fictitious characters in actual historical situations among said real historical people, so the course of true love doesn’t always run smooth. (Okay, it rarely runs smooth. But it’s fascinating to read about!)

    A WOMAN OF PASSION is a good place to start.
    Product description: Young Bess Hardwick knew that the only way to escape a commoner’s life was to serve in a noble family and marry well. So the headstrong beauty set out for London and the Tudor court, the arena for the richest, most ambitious men, none more powerful than the four men who would claim her. None more dangerous than Princess Elizabeth, who made Bess friend, confidante, then lady-in-waiting in her own glittering court…

    Dangerously seductive, William Cavendish, the king’s dashing financial adviser, vowed to have Bess at any cost. Frail, adoring Robert Barlow offered a marriage she couldn’t refuse. Newly crowned Queen Elizabeth bade her marry courtly Sir William St. Loe. But reckless passion drove Bess into the arms of George Talbot, the devastating Earl of Shrewsbury, whose wicked daring ignited in Bess the passion of a lifetime—even as it sparked the jealous interest of the most perilous ally of all: the Virgin Queen….

  3. 3
    ms bookjunkie says:

    More Tudor era Viginia Henley books to read:

    THE HAWK AND THE DOVE (Elizabethan court)
    INSATIABLE (Elizabethan court)
    TEMPTED (Takes place in Scotland, but there’s a visit to young, horny Henry VIII’s court.)

    (If you don’t care for the Tudor era, VH has written Medieval, Regency and Victorian romances full of history. Just take your pick!)

    (And dammit, now I want to reread me some VH!)

  4. 4
    Melanie says:

    I recently bought, but haven’t yet read, “Lady Gallant” by Suzanne Robinson.  It’s an old (1991) romance with a Tudor setting that I heard good things about and had been looking for for some time.  Amanda McCabe has also written a couple of Harlequin historicals with a Tudor setting, one a couple of years ago and one that’s just been published.  However, probably my favorite Tudor historical fiction/fantasy/romance is the YA “The Perilous Gard” by Elizabeth Marie Pope.  It’s a retelling of the Tam Lin legend, and I’ve read it many times.

  5. 5
    cate says:

    Well – a long time ago in a galaxy far far away (OK I’m exagerating -121 miles to be exact) I LOVED Valentina Luellen. Not an author you hear much of today, she wrote for M&B historical romance – Madelon,Francesca, – she covered all the bases historically. And Francesca dealt with the Borgia’s – & even now it out Borgia’s, The Borgia’s.
      I also loved Dinah Dean….but she was more Napoleonic wars & Russia.
    Today,if I need a Tudor hit, I go for the sublime Hilary Mantle (never thought I’d find a Booker prize winner actually readable !!) or C J Sansom – both outstanding writers

  6. 6
    kayedacus says:

    I really enjoyed Jennifer Blake’s Three Graces trilogy, set in the court of Henry VII: BY HIS MAJESTY’S GRACE, BY GRACE POSSESSED, and SEDUCED BY GRACE.

  7. 7
    Jaelwye says:

    Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia Wrede is a sweet (alas, not xxxy) romantic retelling of the Grimm’s fairytale set in Elizabethan times. I first read it in ‘89, and it’s stuck with me all these years. Was just re-released in ‘09. Features Dr. Dee, Elizabeth’s astronomer, and Midsummer Night’s Dream -type fairies.

    On a separate note, I think that the unending (and in my opinion, annoying) fascination with the Regency is mostly due to Georgette Heyer. It’s her fan-fic universe Regency writers are all playing in.

  8. 8
    Rose says:

    There aren’t that many to choose from, but Suzanne Robinson’s Lady Gallant would stand out even among a bigger selection. It’s really good (the hero is awful to the heroine for quite a while, but he certainly suffers for it eventually).

    Though they are not romances, but I must mention The Lymond Chronicles as well.

  9. 9
    Emily says:

    Before I even saw these posts today, I was reminiscing about Georgette Heyer’s Simon the Coldheart and Beauvallet.  Simon takes places during Henry V so it doesn’t qualify. But Beauvallet takes place during the reign of Elizabeth I. (Simon is actually the great-grandfather of the hero of Beauvallet.) There’s not much of the court, so maybe its not quite what you’re looking for. I don’t remember everything, but I do know he is a pirate on behalf of Elizabeth and most of the action takes places in Spain. I do think I enjoyed this one, so I recommend it.

    Also Harlequin recently released some tudors as part of its Harlequin Historican line. I thought about buying them, but I had no idea if they were good or not. Anybody read them?

  10. 10
    Samalamadingdong says:

    The first thing I thought of was Susan Wiggs’ Tudor Rose trilogy. I’ve really only read the last of the series, At the Queen’s Summons. It was better than average and fairly engrossing because I am a fool for historical romances where the heroine begins as a london pick pocket/street performer/etc.

  11. 11

    Holy cats. Blaze Wyndham—$17.99 for the Kindle edition? Seems to me this is the second time I’ve considered picking up a Bertrice Small to see what the hoopla was about, and found how expensive they are. I often pay 9.99 or more for ebooks, but that’s generally when the only option is hardcover. 

    Glad to see all these other recs to follow up on.

  12. 12
    Kylie says:

    Kage Baker’s In the Garden of Iden is pretty good.  It isn’t a romance, there is a strong love story, but it doesn’t end well in this book.  It was originally marketed as romance (which would explain why it disappeared for a while).  Very interesting – didn’t contain any really glaring historical errors (I have a shelf of tudor bios so know a little), apart from the main story idea of time travelling cyborgs.
    The series, which is set all over history, does have a HEA of sorts.

    Second the Lymond Chronicles as well- very enjoyable and also Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle- it is more late Stuart than Tudor, but well researched and the historical detail works- the bits I know- they are correct, so the bits I don’t be taken on faith. 

  13. 13
    Christine says:

    My favorite Tudor romance is The Crimson Crown by Edith Layton-alas it appears to be oop but if you track down an affordable copy it is wonderful.  I’ve always been intrigued by the Princes in the Tower. I also loved the Perilous Guard and definitely add my recommendation to Melanie’s.

  14. 14
    laj says:

    Pamela Dean wrote a fabulous book called Tam Lin.  It takes place in the early seventies at a small libral arts college in Minnesota.  It’s one of my beside books.

  15. 15
    laj says:

    My favorite Tudor is a fictional story of the three Bolyen sisters,  Mary, Elizabeth and Anne.  I can’t remember the author or title!  Mary is Henry’s lover and is pregnant.  He is now interested in Anne so Mary is in danger if he finds out about the child. Anne is a conniving bitch who will do anything to become Queen and the father is a total loose fish.  Elizabeth is an artist and the heroine of the book.  She and Mary escape to Verona (maybe Florence) where Elizabeth poses as a man and becomes a successful artist.  The hero is English and meets them some years later. Mary is a crazy and Elizabeth is trying to keep her out of trouble and take care of the little family.  I loved it.  Wish I could remember the title!

  16. 16
    Lenorej says:

    Ok It’s more historical romance in the Dumas sense of the word, but there is a love story in the saga aka The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett and they cover the whole gamut and they are awesomely well written and…well 3500 pages of 16th century adventure with Francis Lymond at the center is not to be missed. Game of Kings is the first in the series. Savor!

  17. 17
    Christine says:

    Those who like their romance old school there is Jude Deveraux’s Velvet series-I remember that I loved them back in the day especially Highland Velvet but haven’t reread them and frankly I’m afraid to.

  18. 18
    Rebecca says:

    Seconding the recommendations for The Perilous Gard, and Snow White and Rose Red.  Ann Lawrence (who I’ve never heard of otherwise) wrote a book called The Half Brothers that’s set in a fictional but obviously Renaissance European country, with references to Elizabethan England and Catherine De Medici’s France.

  19. 19
    jcscot says:

    The Half-Brothers is one of my favourite books ever!  I have a very old and battered hardback that I bought in a library sale and even though it’s aimed at YA, it remains a firm favourite and comfort read.  Hawk of May by the same author is a wonderful retelling of the Arthurian legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

  20. 20
    LauraN says:

    Adding to the Perilous Gard love!  I checked it out from my school library when I was in middle school and adored it.  I came across it a few years ago at a used book store, and I was so excited!  It’s a comfort read for me.

  21. 21
    Jaelwye says:

    Just thought of another Tudor romance I liked a lot—The Serpent Garden by Judith Merkle Riley. Interestingly, it features an artist heroine in the court of Henry VIII, just like Treacherous Court, except with a leavening of demonology and the DaVinci Code. Quirky, but fun.

  22. 22
    cate says:

    The late great Diana Wynne Jones did a Tam Linn take with the outstanding
    Fire & Hemlock ….. I’m afraid from my POV she totally scuppered Pam Dean :(

  23. 23
    cate says:

    Beauvallet is fab ! Raphael Sabatini’s The Black Hawk is better. Harlequin’s rereleases are not too bad….Just be aware that some are VERY 80’s

  24. 24
    Kate4queen says:

    ‘cough cough’ If you don’t mind a bit of Vampire and Druid lore thrown into your Tudor romances, I’d modestly recommend my own books about the wives of Henry VIII and why he had so many. I studied Tudor politics as part of my degree so despite the above, the history is accurate. here’s a link to the covers etc…

    Also highly recommend the Dorothy Dunnett Lymond series, and Heyer’s Beauvallet.

  25. 25
    PamG says:

    The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett is simply six of the best historical novels ever written.  Not only are they well written and researched, they contain the most complex blend of humor and angst that I’ve ever encountered.  The romance develops verrry slowly throughout the series, but the payoff is incredible.  Also, though Crawford of Lymond and Sevigny is indeed swoonworthy, I think that Philippa Somerville is, in fact, an even more fascinating character.  If you like your fiction panoramic, complicated, intensely emotional, and intellectually challenging, you couldn’t do better than The Lymond Chronicles. 

    I also want to second the Sabatini rec.  I started reading Sabatini back in high school at the same time I discovered Heyer, and Beauvallet did have a swash and buckle highly reminiscent of Sabatini.

  26. 26
    Nabpaw says:

    I know she’s already been mentioned, but Suzanne Robinson’s Elizabethan books are the best!  i really love the way she brings that period to life.  They’re a series of 4 interconnected books about a group of spys for Elizabeth I.  You should definitely check them out.

  27. 27
    Juli Page Morgan says:

    Virginia Henley’s books, for sure!  My favorite is THE DRAGON AND THE JEWEL.

  28. 28
    Anne V says:

    Have to chime in on the really excellent Lymond Chronicles, by Dorothy Dunnett.  Also, the related House of Niccolo is pretty wonderful and so is Checkmate, the standalone retelling of MacBeth. 

  29. 29
    Jimthered says:

    While it’s probably phenonomally historically inaccurate, I love the erotic novel WHITE ROSE ENSNARED by Juliet Hastings. It’s part of the Black Lace line of erotica (“erotic fiction written for women, by women”) , it’s set during the War of the Roses, and it has everything from the near-virgin married heroine Rosamund (explanation: her husband was much older when they married—a kind but sexually incapable man), the noble-handsome-young-smitten hero Geoffrey, to the evil, bisexuall villain Sir Ralph. Be warned: This has lots of bondage, fetishism, and non-consentual sex (though it all comes together in the end). Shameless plugs: My full review is up at http://thearmchaircritic.blogs… ; I also did the review with the header “A Wonderful Kinky Historical Romance.”) And here’s the plug from the book: “When the elderly Lord de Verney is killed in battle, his beautiful widow Rosamund finds herself at the mercy of Sir Ralph Aycliffe, a powerful knight who will stop at nothing to humiliate her and seize her property. He will not rest until he has enslaved her beyond hope of redemption. But there’s a young squire about to come to the rescue. Geoffrey Lymington will risk everything to save the woman he has loved for a single night. Against the turbulent backdrop of the Wars of the Roses, the battle for Rosamund unfolds. Who will prevail in the struggle for her body?” If you don’t mind kink, it’s very worth reading.

  30. 30
    laj says:

    Thanks Cate I’ll read it.

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