Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Haggard Virtual Book Tour

Join Cynthia Haggard, author of the historical fiction medieval novel, Thwarted Queen,as she virtually tours the blogosphere in May, 2012, on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book. Thwarted Queen has been nominated for the Global e-book awards in the Historical Fiction, Medieval Novels category.

Synopsis:  Cecylee is the apple of her mother’s eye. The seventh daughter, she is the only one left unmarried by 1424, the year she turns nine. In her father’s eyes, however, she is merely a valuable pawn in the game of marriage. The Earl of Westmorland plans to marry his youngest daughter to 13-year-old Richard, Duke of York, who is close to the throne. He wants this splendid match to take place so badly, he locks his daughter up.

The event that fuels the narrative is Cecylee’s encounter with Blaybourne, a handsome archer, when she is twenty-six years old. This love affair produces a child (the “One Seed” of Book II), who becomes King Edward IV. But how does a public figure like Cecylee, whose position depends upon the goodwill of her husband, carry off such an affair? The duke could have locked her up, or disposed of this illegitimate son.

But Richard does neither, keeping her firmly by his side as he tries to make his voice heard in the tumultuous years that encompass the end of the Hundred Years War - during which England loses all of her possessions in France - and the opening phase of the Wars of the Roses. He inherits the political mantle of his mentor Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, and become’s the people’s champion. The rambunctious Londoners are unhappy that their country has become mired in misrule due to the ineptitude of a King prone to fits of madness. Nor are they better pleased by the attempts of the King’s French wife to maneuver herself into power, especially as she was responsible for England’s losses in France. But can Richard and Cecylee prevail? Everywhere, their enemies lurk in the shadows.

This book is filled with many voices, not least those of the Londoners, who forged their political destiny by engaging in public debate with the powerful aristocrats of the time. By their courageous acts, these fifteenth-century Londoners set the stage for American Democracy.

Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Haggard

Book Excerpt

Richard urged his palfrey into a gallop so that he could catch up with Gloucester, riding east to the city. What is he going to do now, thought Richard, following Gloucester along the Strand towards Saint Paul’s Cathedral. As soon as they got to the churchyard, Gloucester vaulted off his horse, threw his reins to a groom, and mounted the steps of Saint Paul’s Cross.
Richard followed.
The Londoners were enjoying themselves in the spring sunshine, it being that time of day after the main meal when people come out to pay visits, shop, and enjoy a fine afternoon stroll. In one corner of Saint Paul’s churchyard, a number of well-dressed citizens fingered the leather covers and the crisp pages of those new-fangled printed books. There were goldsmiths and silversmiths. There was a woman selling spring flowers. There was even a horse merchant, whose restless charges stamped their feet, tossed their heads, and added a pungent odor to the scene.
Just outside the door of the church stood a group of London merchants. The soft leather of their boots and gloves displayed their wealth, as did the exotic and colorful material of their robes, their jewel-encrusted collars, and the many rings on their fingers. They were outdone only by their wives, who wore as many necklaces, rings, and brooches as possible crammed onto their costumes. Richard bowed to one beldame passing by. She had so much cloth in her headdress, her husband must belong to the clothier’s guild.
As Gloucester arrived at Saint Paul’s Cross, the people immediately began to gather, separating Richard from his mentor. “Good Duke Humphrey!” they shouted. “‘Tis Good Duke Humphrey!”
Gloucester bowed.  A tapster from a nearby alehouse ran up to hand him a mug of ale.
He looks years younger, thought Richard, glancing at his friend basking in the approval of the crowd. How ironic that it is the people of England who respect him, not his aristocratic peers.
The crowd gathered around Saint Paul’s Cross, buzzing with excited anticipation as the horses neighed.
“I wonder what he’s got to say,” said the bookseller.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said the flower seller. “Most of them fancy people never bother with the likes of us.”
“Duke Humphrey, he’s good,” said the horse merchant. “He talks to us. Tells us what’s going on.”
“He’s become a champion of good governance,” said a well-dressed gentleman.
Duke Humphrey held up a hand, and the crowd fell silent.
“My friends, I have come here today to tell you about a piece of treachery. Nay, I can scarce believe it myself, and if any of you had told me this, I would think I had had a bad hangover from the night before.”
Some youngsters in the crowd erupted into laughter. Their elders grew watchful and silent.
Richard accepted a tankard of beer and stood by Gloucester. He looked at the faces tilted up before him. They don’t seem overawed, he thought, sipping his beer. This country is not like France, where the common people grovel before the aristocrats. These people seem to know that their voices count for something.
Gloucester raised his hand again. “Would you believe it, but in return for Margaret of Anjou, the Earl of Suffolk negotiated a marriage settlement in which we give away Maine and Anjou to the French.”
The crowd recoiled. “No!” they shouted.
Richard grew uneasy.
“Yes, good people. Yes: I am sorry to tell you so, but there it is.”
“What does this mean for trade, sir?” asked a man, a fashionably dressed woman on his arm.
“You lose the revenues from the counties of Maine and Anjou,” replied Duke Humphrey. “You lose revenues from wine.”
“Is our wine trade going to dry up?” asked one merchant with a red nose.
“Not unless we lose Bordeaux. So far, we are just talking about Maine and Anjou.”
The crowd responded with a harsh bark of laughter.
“But I can tell you,” continued Gloucester, “that the loss of Maine and Anjou means the loss of goodly fruit.”
“No more pears!” exclaimed a young girl with golden hair hanging out from an upstairs window. “But that’s my favorite fruit.” Her high voice sailed over the noise of the crowd.
“No more Anjou pears, madam,” said Gloucester sweeping her a low bow.
“Jacinda, do not shout out of the window. It is not ladylike.” A woman with an elaborate horned headdress appeared and gently pulled the child away. “Please accept my apologies, my lord Duke,” she called down. “She is very free.”
“Do not worry, madam,” said Gloucester bowing again with a flourish. “You have a charming daughter.”
Applause and cheers greeted this remark.
“What about the landowners of Maine and Anjou, my lord?” asked a merchant dressed in fine crimson silk, rubies winking from the collar around his neck. “What about their lands and holdings?”
“A good question.” Gloucester held up his hand to still the whispers and murmurings of the crowd. “They will be obliged to give up their lands. They will be forced to come home with nothing and start afresh.”
The crowd erupted into boos and murmurs, which grew louder. Richard looked at his friend.
“I see you look puzzled, good people,” remarked Gloucester, as the restless crowd grew silent. “Let me spell out the terms of the Treaty of Tours by which our king gained a wife. By this treaty, we give up Maine and Anjou. In return, we get exactly—nothing. That’s right. Nothing. The queen did not even bring a dowry with her. Can you believe it? Can you believe that Suffolk would be so stupid, so asinine, so treacherous, as to throw away something that we gained in a fair fight for nothing in return?”
Their roar threw Richard backward. He moved closer to Gloucester. “They’re getting upset,” he hissed.
Gloucester ignored him. “And all for a queen worth not ten marks,” he remarked, holding up his tankard of ale. “I feel personally betrayed.”
“We are betrayed!” roared the crowd. “A queen worth not ten marks!” They turned and hurried down Ludgate Hill in the direction of Westminster, shouting as they went.
“What are they going to do?” asked Richard.
Gloucester chuckled. “They are going to Westminster Palace, to shout insults at the queen.”

Rose of RabyRose of Raby by Cynthia Sally Haggard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I realized that the first two books are included in this edition of this series. I have already reviewed book 2 here (, so I will only be reviewing book one in this review.

This was the second book I read in the series, but it is the first in the series. This book was a short, easy read, and its purpose is to introduce the audience to Ceylee. When the book opens, she is nine years old and already being betrothed to an older man. I found myself mulling over this portion of the story quite a bit. My daughter is nearly nine, and the thought of her being betrothed does not set well with me. I am so glad I was not born into royalty. I believe I would have been beheaded or at least imprisoned in the tower for insubordination.

I was somewhat disappointed in this book. While the characters were introduced, the only character that seemed to be three-dimensional was Ceylee. I did not find myself caring about any of the others. So the author certainly accomplished her purpose of introducing Ceylee to us, but I just wish we had come to know some of the other character a little bit more.

While this is a light, historical read--probably perfect for teenagers--I would have preferred a more in-depth first book. I was shocked when several years were skipped, and suddenly Ceylee was grown and having to make an important decision. I am glad I read the books out of order merely because the second book is indeed better than the first.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100 percent mine, and I was not financially compensated.

View all my reviews

And, Book 2's review:

One Seed Sown (Thwarted Queen, #2)One Seed Sown by Cynthia Sally Haggard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First of all, understand that I read the books out of order.  I wil be reviewing all of them, but I this was the first one I received.  And this was my introduction to this entire saga and the character of Ceylee.

I fully appreciate the extensive research the author did for this series.  Her explanations following the conclusion of the book impressed me to no end.  And it certainly made this book a believable representation of the story of this time period in history.

I also appreciated that there was no profanity nor bedroom scenes.  While infidelity happened, the reader is not invited to that scene.  It made the book a breath of fresh air to read.

The character of Ceylee is indeed well-developed, and J believe that is the author's crowning triumph.  I feel I can sympathize with her predicament without condoning it.  It makes me want to read and learn more about her from other books in the series.

My only criticism relates to the textbook style of writing that often takes the focus of the reader from the characters and who they really were.  Richard comes across as being way too lenient, and Ceylee's lover appears to be such an idiot that the attraction makes no sense.  Sometimes the events happen so fast due to the brevity of the book itself.  I realize the authoe is informing her readers of past event of which they may no little if nothing at all.  But her writing style sometimes kept me from caring about the characters and connecting with them.

I cannot complain about the ending.  Abrupt and suspenseful, it will definitely entice you to read the next book in the series.  And I can assure you that it will not be long before I do!

I was provided with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  I was not financially compensated in any way, and all opinions are 100% mine.

View all my reviews

About Cynthia Haggard
Born and raised in Surrey, England, CYNTHIA SALLY HAGGARD has lived in the United States for twenty-nine years. She has had four careers: violinist, cognitive scientist, medical writer and novelist. Yes, she is related to H. Rider Haggard, the author of SHE and KING SOLOMONS’S MINES. (H. Rider Haggard was a younger brother of the author’s great-grandfather.) Cynthia Sally Haggard is a member of the Historical Novel Society. You can visit her website at:

Check out some of the blog tour here

As a side note, I have the other two books in the series, but I have not been able to read them yet.  Look for a review of those this summer!.

1 comment:

  1. Thwarted Queen sounds interesting. It's not my normal type of book, but I am open to it. Also, how do you pronounce Cecylee? It is spelled so uniquely that I think I really like it!


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