Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Dear lord, is it that hard to Google??
I don't have too many good things to say about this book. The historical "accuracy" was pitiful. I know, I know, you may think, "But Small, it's historical fiction!" And, yes, I know.
But I don't like historical fiction that takes gigantic liberties with historical fact, especially when a quick trip to Wikipedia would set things straight.
And I'm not even talking about things like minor smushings of the timeline (which were definitely present— characters were walking around when they should have been dead years ago and others died too soon), but I can give a pass for when it makes for easier storytelling...which kinda sorta might have applied here?
I'm talking about stupid little things like getting Catherine of Aragon's hair color right (it's RED, not black!) or Anne Boleyn's birth order right (yes, there's contention, but modern opinion is she was the younger sister), or the number and birth order of Mary Tudor's sons right (none of her sons made it to the age of her book son, and, yeah, notice I'm using the plural, Ms. Haeger?).
Simple little things that don't require the author to be a master historian but do take enough effort to Google. And, really, I don't think I'm asking too much in that. I am not a super historian and my memory is awful and even I managed to pick up on these things.
You'd think an author who chooses to write in the genre would at least put in some minimal effort to get these things right. I mean, even the author's note was riddled with errors!
Bonus points: It's poorly written!
From a storytelling perspective, The Secret Bride was so, so boring. Nothing happened. Their "romance" plodded along with repetitive mentions of feelings but no actual showing of the development of said feelings. No reasons were given for why these two characters fell in love and would risk the wrath of the king.
Character development was inconsistent with history, but also super shallow. Mary and Charles don't feel like real people beyond the page. I couldn't muster up a care for their plight and the side characters were even less developed. Henry VIII's characterization was laughable.
The TV show was about a thousand times better in all major areas: storytelling, accuracy, and character development. And, yeah, I know all about the historical inaccuracies in that show.
I won't be wasting my time nor my shelf space on another book by this author.