The Dark Rose by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
“The Dark Rose” is the second in Cynthia Harrod-Eagles’ ‘Morland Dynasty’ series. I have previously reviewed the first book, “The Founding.” Because the books deal with successive generations of the same family, they largely stand on their own and do not really contain any significant spoilers for one another.
In “The Dark Rose,” Paul Morland – founder Eleanor’s great-grandson – has become the head of the Morland dynasty. England has had a bit of a change of leadership as well; the house of York, with whom the Morlands were long allied, has fallen and it is the Tudors who now rule. Just as the Tudors are now dealing with contenders to the throne, Paul is dealing with different factions competing for his affection and a place as a member of his family. Between his wife and children and his mistress and illegitimate son, as well as his half-siblings who he believes to be illegitimate, things are quite messy in the Morland household.
Okay, so “The Dark Rose” isn’t actually as melodramatic as I made it sound, but Paul does act a bit brooding in much of the first half of the book. In fact, he was so brooding as to be somewhat obnoxious, and gave me a bit of difficulty in getting into the book initially. As Paul grew up a bit more and started to act it, though, I slipped into the book more easily. Things got even easier when Nanette, Paul’s niece, became a major character. She was much easier to identify with, and her life was also a bit more interesting, as for some time she was living at court with Anne Boleyn during Anne’s meteoric rise and fall. Harrod-Eagles changed a few pieces of history for no reason that I could discern, however, and that drew me out of the story a few times. For instance, she had Elizabeth Boleyn, mother of Anne and Mary, dying when the girls were young. That is not true, and it seemed to serve no purpose other than annoy me any time it was mentioned. Then there was the whole thing with the uncle and niece falling in love. I’ve more or less made my peace with the creepiness of the cousins constantly marrying one another (and in EVERY generation…), but the uncle to half-niece was just ick. They seemed like true love and all, but my brain just kept going ‘ick, ick, ick, ick, ick.”
Overall, I did very much enjoy “The Dark Rose,” although perhaps not quite as much as “The Founding.” I liked it enough that I’m excited for “The Princeling,” the next book in the Morland dynasty series.
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