I loved last summer’s conclusion to Laura Andersen’s Boleyn Trilogy and was thrilled to find that she’s starting what appears to be another trilogy in that same alternative history universe. The upcoming The Virgin’s Daughter continues with the characters and premise set up in the original trilogy (what might have happened if Anne Boleyn had borne Henry VIII a son who lived to rule?) but with its main focus on the next generation.
Rather than starting from scratch and simply positing the idea of Elizabeth I marrying with history as it happened originally (with Henry VIII still having had six wives, etc.), Andersen continues with the history as she envisioned it in the original trilogy. This means that the reader gets to see Minuette and Dominic but the main focus is on the next generation, particularly Lucette, Minuette’s daughter who may or may not have been fathered by the late king, William and whose relationship with her parents has been difficult since learning that possibility from the queen herself at age fifteen. Now in her twenties, Lucette has been charged with a special request from her queen: going to her family’s friends in France (the LeClercs) to play the spy and uncover information concerning the Nightingale plot, presumed to be about assassinating Elizabeth.
At first I was hesitant about the idea of continuing this series further; the original trilogy was so well wrapped up, it didn’t feel like there were any loose ends that could be used as a starting point. In fact, one of my favorite aspects of the trilogy was how neatly it brought everything speculated back to the true historic state of things at the beginning of Elizabeth I’s reign. And there weren’t, hence the new “what if” for this second stage of the series: What if Elizabeth I married Philip II of Spain and they had a daughter? Anabel (Anne Isabel, Princess of Wales) has a difficult and strained relationship with both her royal parents, having rarely seen her father who largely resides in Spain and being kept at a safe distance from court by her protective mother. The friendship between Elizabeth, Minuette, and Dominic is still a bit strained, but remains close enough for Anabel to be quite close with Minuette and Dominic’s younger children, echoing in many ways the young friendships that were so crucial and believable in the original Boleyn trilogy. This new set of Tudor Legacy books promise to be just as well thought-out in their overarching plot as the originals and the next generation of characters look to be just as engaging as well.
Though it’s called The Virgin’s Daughter, much of the narrative focuses on Lucette and her time in France with the children of Dominic’s old friend, Renaud LeClerc. With most of Lucette’s memories of the two sons, Nicolas and Julien, tied to an English visit when the boys were in their teens and Lucette was a starry-eyed ten-year-old, meeting them again as grown men means that there are additional considerations of the heart at play while she makes her efforts at spying. The plot as a whole is rather predictable but also clearly sets up what is going to be a much larger and detailed overarching plot, which makes me willing to forgive the weaknesses of this first installment (though that assessment could change depending on the final payoff for this new set of books).
I’m very much looking forward to the next piece of this new puzzle. The Virgin’s Daughter will be available for purchase May 26, 2015 with the second book due out sometime in the fall/winter (this second timeframe is subject to change; I’m hoping I’ll be able to preview that as well when the time comes).