**Warning: Mild spoilers ahead!**
I hoped this book would be the one book to end my streak of below standard fare I've been reading. I wanted it to be, so desperately. The cover is amazing, I am so in love with that dress that I wanted to read the book simply for that. The synopsis also grabbed my attention. Everyone has read books about the infamous Tudors. Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Princess Catherine, all of these are names that most people would recognize. Margaret is the oft overlooked Tudor that I can't recall having too many books written about her. In retrospect, there seems to be a very good reason for that.
Initially, I thought that I would quite like Margaret. She was spunky and fiery, with a bit of an attitude on her too. Her journey to the altar (by proxy) at the age of 13 to the King of Scotland, who was 20 years her senior, was a sweet introduction to the story and her character. I liked that she understood her role in a royal family of being a queen and producing a royal family, while trying to bring two kingdoms together. She was being proactive and determined to do her part for both England and Scotland. I also enjoyed seeing her struggles to acclimate to a new country and discovering exactly what being a queen entailed. Unfortunately, Margaret went from spunky and intelligent to selfish and narcissistic in a hurry. I found myself furious with her so many times that I stopped counting. EVERYTHING was about her! And when things stopped revolving around her for half a second she threw a fit and did something stupid, like firing a cannon at her husband. She humiliated herself often but then got angry at every perceived slight that "shamed" her, no honey you are doing a wonderful job of that yourself.
I am not done unloading about Margaret here, she was also a horrible narrator because it was alllllll about the Margaret show. Her child dies, it's shoved aside when she gets a new dress and is so excited about it. Her favorite servant dies and she is stunned that the woman had family and other interests besides hearing her self-indulgent rants all the time. Her husband lies to her, deceives her, cheats on her, steals from her, and abandons her. Yet she lets him take her son (the crowned king!) for a visit. And then is absolutely shocked that he won't give him back! What the holy mother of God did you think would happen?! He's scum and has always had aspirations to control the king so you just hand the king over!? Her late husband tells her, you must remain unmarried or they will challenge you for the crown. She remarries and then is stunned when they challenge her for the crown!! AAAAHHHH!! I can't talk about Margaret anymore or I'm going to have a rage induced stroke.
Jamie was the complete opposite in terms of character, I really liked him a lot. He was kind, considerate, intelligent, and looked to the future in a way befitting of a king. I thought that this was the character I'd hate, marrying a 13-year-old and bringing her to Scotland at 14. But I didn't. He recognized that she was just a girl and probably had no idea what being a wife and queen meant and was patient with her missteps. It didn't take me long to figure out that Jamie genuinely and honestly loved Margaret even if he was far from the perfect husband. He did everything he could to make her happy but it didn't end up working because she still nagged at him about everything. I felt sorry for him by the end simply for having to deal with her.
The plot also presented me a lot of trouble, mainly because I wasn't sure that there was one. It was over 300 pages of a narcissistic rant that was all about Margaret. That got boring really quick. There was almost no mention of the intrigue of the time, nations in turmoil, her brother's court in shambles, Scotland under siege from within, nothing of any import for the time at all. All about Margaret and what made Margaret happy or unhappy. I also pray that the formatting was fixed for the final copy because the ARC was practically unreadable. In one sentence, a son was alive and well and being christened. Literally in the next sentence, with no segue, the same son is dead and they are at his funeral. I have zero idea how much time passed in between the two events. Topics were mentioned and changed at will and with no explanation, segue, or even a paragraph break to tell me what was going on. At one point, two whole years passed from the time we ended one paragraph to when we started the next. It was so confusing. I hope this was only a problem with the ARC because if the final copy is like that, God help anyone who reads it.
I cannot recommend this book. It nearly killed me just to finish it and I considered putting it down and giving up more than a dozen times. Unless you are a massive fan of the author then I fear your reading experience will echo mine.
Thank you Kensington for providing me an ARC of this book via NetGalley. It was provided in exchange for an honest review.