Author: Eleanor Herman
Published: Harper Perennial, 2004
Where I Got It: Online
First Line: "If prostitution is the world's oldest profession, then the finer art of being a mistress must be the second oldest."
A month or two back, I read a FABULOUS book called Sex with the Queen. It was seriously one of the best books I've read this year. Needless to say, I was excited to pick up it's predecessor, Sex with Kings. I consequently got my hopes raised too high (story of my life).
This book takes on the view of the women who more than likely had the most influence over some of the most powerful men in the world: the mistresses. We learn about everything pertaining to them: their privileges, relationship with the king (and the queen, for that matter), their incomes, bastards, husbands, and their fate. The common denominator among the majority of European mistresses over the years: bitchiness. Some of these women were pure evil! (Is it weird that I used three colons in this paragraph? Sorry, just the ex-journalism student in me..)
However....like I said, I was severely disappointed by this book. My biggest problem is the author's creepy fascination with the French. I'd safely bet that more than half the book deals with some sort of French monarch. I couldn't keep the fourteen different Louis' and their Madames de Wherever in line. Not nearly enough English monarchs, or the Tudors for that matter! Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard were mentioned in passing. I will say that if you like 17th century England, you will find plenty of Charles II smut (and Barbara, Lady Castlemaine....so sick of her now). You will read about Charles and the various Louis' about fifteen different times....there's no real variety. The set up is very messy; it's not chronological, and gets confusing real fast.
So what do I rate it? A sad 2.5 stars. It was somewhat entertaining at times, yet for the most part....just..blah. That's seriously the best word I can think of. Blah. Do not fear, however! Just pick up Sex with the Queen, which will more than likely delight you, as it did me.
OK, something else must be said about the author. The very first page was her bio, and this is the accompanying picture:
I thought it was a bit odd, but not too out of place for a book about historic royal families. I then started researching her a bit more....and this is what I found: