1586 – London, England. Sixteen-year-old Mercy Hart is the daughter of one of London’s richest – and strictest – cloth merchants. Kit Turner is an actor and the illegitimate son of the late Earl of Dorset. A chance encounter finds Kit falling for the beautiful Mercy’s charms, but their love is forbidden. A merchant’s daughter and a vagabond – it simply cannot be. If Mercy chooses Kit she must renounce her family name and leave her home. Will she favour duty over true love, or will she give Kit his heart’s desire?
This third instalment of the Lacey family tales follows the story of the Lacey boy's illegitimate half brother Kit who was estranged from the family after their father died and enjoys a life on stage as a player at Richard Babbage's famous company whilst Mercy Hart is the daughter of a well respected London tradesman who belongs to the Puritans. All the unwritten laws of society declare that they cannot be together- is there love strong enough to overcome this and sacrifice part of themselves for each other?
I loved the previous two books in the Lacey Chronicle series, The Other Countess and The Queen's Lady so I was really hoping that The Rouge's Princess would live up to my high expectations and it did! I fall every time for the 'will they, won't they' romances in books and this was no exception.
Kit made an appearance in the Queen's Lady and at first I was unsure of whether I liked him because he came across as irritating so I was apprehensive about him being a main character. However, I couldn't have been more wrong because out of the male leads so far, I think he is the most fun to read about because he leads such a different life than his half brothers. His gift with words and use of poetic flowery language makes him a real charmer complete with gorgeous looks- swoon! I doubt I will be the only reader crushing on him. At the beginning of the book, he has his heart in the right place but also likes a good drink down the pub like the other theatre boys but the thing that really won him over as a worthy hero of the book was his resilience in his pursuit of Mercy. He treated her with the utmost kindness and respect and was even willing to change his character to fit in with her Puritan ways by toning down his bright fashionable clothes. It was so sweet because it was clear that he really loved Mercy and she wasn't just a passing fancy because he was determined to continue his courtship even at the opposition of the Hart family.
Likewise, Mercy has a different personality than the other ladies in the books so far because she's quiet, shy and extremely modest about herself because of her Puritan upbringing and will not even allow herself the pleasure of a pretty new dress. Kit bought out the more wild side in her character, which was hidden inside at the start but started to show in her half shy cheeky flirtations with Kit when they first meet by chance. I admired her for the courage she showed and she is the kind of girl I'd like to have as a friend because she has a fun sense of humour that emerged but a sensible head.
The main characters from the other books with Will, James and Tobias Lacey as well as Milly Porter and her husband Diego appearing in person and Ellie, Jane and Sarah being mentioned. I particularly loved Tobias's mischievous neature and his witty and affectionate brotherly banter with Kit. That bought a lot of comic relief to the story and was funny to read.
Again, the Tudor era was described vividly and I found myself right in the heart of the streets of London and I could visualise the bawdy roar of the crowds at the Globe Theatre and sense the political atmosphere at the taverns that Kit visits. As in the other books, historical events were involved heavily in the plot and this book focused on suspicion of plots to overthrow Mary Queen of Scots and gave a glimpse into the start of William Shakespeare's career. I particularly enjoyed learning about the Puritan beliefs because I've heard things about them in other historical books but never in detail. Their simple and harsh way of life fascinated me and fitted in perfectly with the plot and setting. The author's biography says that she dined at a Tudor banquet in order to get the sounds and smells of the era right and this really shines through in her writing.
I loved curling up with the Rogue's Princess and it left me with a smile on my face. The character cast that Eve Edwards has created is wonderful and it feels like I know them. It's not often I feel that way about book characters and when you do find that special series, it feels like you've struck gold. I really hope that there will be more books in the series because I've thoroughly enjoyed reading them and of course, there's still the youngest Lacey brother Tobias and sister Sarah to write about.
Verdict/ Speed read: Eve Edward's evocative depiction of Tudor England took me to Elizabethan London along with well crafted and loved characters. Mercy and Kit's romance was adorable and I was so glad to see some characters from the previous books in the series. The Lacey Chronicle books are now firm favourites of mine and The Rogue's Princess is no exception to this. I savoured every last word and hope that we will see more books in the series! Highly recommended for fans of YA historical and those who are looking to escape in a wonderfully romantic book.
Rating: 5 stars
Thank you to Razorbill for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.