Friday, July 19, 2013

Heirs & Spares: Review

It’s 1569. Elizabeth I sits on the English throne, the Reformation inflames the Continent, and whispers of war abound.
But in Troixden, just north of France, the Lady Annelore isn’t interested in politics. Times are hard, taxes are high, and the people in her duchy need her help just to survive. Her widowed father is a good man easily distracted by horses, and her newly knighted childhood friend…well, he has plans of his own.
Then Annelore receives a call she can’t ignore.
When Troixden’s sadistic king died childless, his younger brother William returns from exile to find his beloved country on the brink of civil war. He’s in desperate need of the stability that comes with a bride and heirs. But Annelore, his chosen queen, won’t come quietly.
Now the future of Troixden lies in the hands of two people who never wanted the power they’ve received and never dreamed that from duty and honor they might find love and a path to peace.
Heirs & Spares is one part history, two parts palace plotting, and a whole lot of juicy romantic intrigue. Break out the spiced wine and sink in to this rousing read.
My Take:
Heirs & Spares is a marvelously researched peek into the 16th Century and what life among the well-born might have been like.  I thoroughly enjoyed this historical fiction/romance which tells the tale of Lady Annelore and her journey to become queen.  She is very reluctant to leave her home and her life-time friend and love, Sir Bryan.  But when the King commands, you must obey.  She is selected as one of three ladies from the kingdom among whom King William will choose his bride.  When she receives the summons, she hopes against hope that she can convince the King that she is unsuitable as a royal bride.  But circumstances develop that make it impossible for her to make her case and the King decides to take her as his bride after meeting her only once.
Annelore's father is so proud of her, that she does not wish to disappoint him--but she will have to overcome her fear of the King's family.  Fears brought on by King William's cruel brother.  Is it possible that William could be so very different from his relatives?  Is he a man that she can learn to love as well as King whose wishes must be obeyed?  And will their union truly calm the disquiet in the kingdom?
Spohr's storytelling is almost pitch-perfect with delightful details of the countryside in the fictional kingdom of Troixden.  The characters are very real and distinct and I now have a great affection for King William and Queen Annalore.  The story is both self-contained with a very satisfying ending and yet manages to leave the door open for the sequel. I look forward to reading more of their story in Part II of the Realm Series (due out in 2014).  Four stars.
About the Author:
Jennie L. Spohr is the author of Heirs & Spares and several short stories. An incurable Anglophile/Europhile who has studied the trials and tribulations of royals since she watched Princess Diana take that long walk to the altar, she turned her attention to historical fiction and fictional monarchies after studying the Reformation in graduate school. When not writing, Spohr produces and hosts a popular podcast called The Kindlings Muse ( about ideas that matter in culture, including books, film, and music. She is an ordained minister and lives with her brood in Seattle.
Visit her online at
[Disclaimer: My review policy is posted on my blog, but just to reiterate...This review copy was offered to me for impartial review and I have received no payment of any kind. All comments are entirely my own honest opinion.]

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