Queen of Blood (The Cross and the Crown, Book 4) by Sarah Kennedy released in March in the Historical Fiction genre.
Queen of Blood, Book Four of the Cross and the Crown series, continues the story of Catherine Havens, a former nun in Tudor England. It is now 1553, and Mary Tudor has just been crowned queen of England. Still a Roman Catholic, Mary seeks to return England to its former religion, and Catherine hopes that the country will be at peace under the daughter of Henry VIII. But rebellion is brewing around Thomas Wyatt, the son of a Tudor courtier, and when Catherine’s estranged son suddenly returns from Wittenberg amid circulating rumours about overthrowing the new monarch, Catherine finds herself having to choose between the queen she has always loved and the son who seems determined to join the Protestants who seek to usurp her throne.
Universal Link: mybook.to/QueenofBloodBookFour
Sarah Kennedy is the author of the Tudor historical series, The Cross and the Crown, including The Altarpiece, City of Ladies, The King’s Sisters, and Queen of Blood. She has also published a stand-alone contemporary novel, Self-Portrait, with Ghost, as well as seven books of poems. A professor of English at Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, Virginia, Sarah Kennedy holds a PhD in Renaissance Literature and an MFA in Creative Writing. She has received grants from both the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
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Fictional characters generally change in the course of a story, and my Catherine Havens Davies, the lead character in my latest novel, Queen of Blood, is no exception. She is living in tumultuous times, so finding herself in situations that would alter her attitudes and beliefs is unsurprising. The external changes in English culture at the time of Mary Tudor’s accession to the throne are many and they’re dramatic. The main change, as I see it, in Catherine’s character, however, is internal.
I didn’t, however, for my latest novel, Queen of Blood, want her to experience an alteration in her marital status. Romance, of course, is one of the main drivers of change in characters’ lives, but my Catherine is happily married at this point. She also has three children, the eldest a boy and the second and third girls. The third child was born after her marriage to her current husband. This is one source of Catherine’s change. The girls are both content with their lives, and with their father, but the son, named Robert after his now-deceased father, has long been resentful of his mother and her second marriage. He was only a child when this occurred, but Robbie is a boy with his own mind—or so he believes—and he feels free to judge others, especially women.
When the novel opens, Mary Tudor (later to become known as “Bloody Mary”) has just acceded to the throne of England. Robbie has been away in Wittenberg, Germany, having left some years previously to “study.” He is Protestant, and he is staunchly opposed to women having positions of authority. Now there is a queen on the throne of England in her own right. Catherine might assume that Robbie would simply stay where he is, right? But she gets a letter telling her that he’s decided to come home.
And then there’s Mary Tudor. Catherine has known Mary Tudor, off and on, for many years. She has sympathized with Mary’s plight, having herself been raised in a convent and having felt the blow of Henry VIII’s break with the Roman Catholic church. Catherine lost her first home and her mother in that break, and she deeply feels Mary’s own loss of status and family in Henry’s remarriage to Anne Boleyn.
Part of Catherine’s problem is that, while she is intelligent in matters of business and healing, she is sentimental about the people she loves. And she loves her son. She loves Mary Tudor. She believes that Mary might restore England to Catholicism and that a woman will rule England in a godly and fair way—because Mary was treated very unfairly. She’s a little giddy with the fact that a woman will sit on the throne, because she has always harbored hopes of recreating that community of women in which she grew up and of which she has nostalgic memories.
And here comes her son. Catherine hopes that Robbie will be reconciled to her and to the fact of a queen regnant in England. But, of course, England is divided, in many ways polarized in its love or hatred of Mary, and Catherine’s family is divided in ways that she doesn’t immediately understand or accept. Robbie is not going to submit to a woman leader, either in a queen or in a mother. And this is going to cause trouble, because others in England feel the same way Robbie does about this queen.
Now, I don’t want to give away the plot, but, as everyone already knows, Mary had to put down a rebellion or two early in her reign. Robbie is a Protestant, though he’s too young to really understand what he believes. He just knows that he’s not Catholic and that Mary is. That’s enough for him to join with other young rebels. And that puts Catherine between her son and her queen, both of whom she loves.
Catherine has a soft spot for her son, even as she sees what he’s grown into. Like so many parents, when she looks at her grown son, she still sees the hurt little boy whose father didn’t really love him. She sees the adolescent, trying to find out who he is. And she sees a young man who doesn’t fully understand what he’s gotten himself into and who is too proud to admit it.
Catherine also has a soft spot for Mary Tudor. She remembers the times when they were companionable. She remembers the times when Mary trusted her and they talked together of religious faith and personal loyalty. She’s seen Mary in pain, rejected and alone. And now she sees Mary triumphant.
I will just say this: those soft spots in Catherine change. She is forced to learn that mothers sometimes grow to dislike their children, even as they still love them wildly. She is also made to understand that, despite their early camaraderie, she and Mary have been born to very different classes, and their shared gender and suffering will not overcome that. Catherine must submit to Mary’s new authority and power, completely. That is hard. Those soft spots in Catherine are the places where she will feel the deepest pain, and that suffering will create wounds that must heal somehow. And we all know that scars are harder than undamaged skin—which is the great change that must happen in Catherine.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Sarah-Kennedy/e/B0054NFF6W