Thursday, May 24, 2012

Denee Cody -- The Golden Rose

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ .   {4.25}
Action: ♠. / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣. / Romance: ♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠.
Action: 1.5 / Emotion: 4.5 / Romance: 3 / Sensuous: 1 / Suspense: 3.5 // Historical Flavor: 4 / Laughter: 1 / Tears: 7

Although The Golden Rose, by Denée Cody, is the third book in The Mandeville Trilogy, it can easily stand on its own.   The events in this book take place in 1499 England -- almost 300 years after books one (The Court of Love) and two (Queen of the May).   The tie that the three books share is that the heros were all of Mandeville descent.

Want to point out that The Golden Rose took place during a very tumultuous time in England's history -- the "War of the Roses" (timeline).   This "War of the Roses" takes place between the years 1455 to 1487.   Two branches born with royal blood in their veins (the Yorkist's and the Lancastrian's) each want their ancestor to sit on the throne of England.

The Battle of Bosworth (August 22, 1485) was a key factor to the characters in The Golden Rose.   The Mandeville men stood with their monarch, King Richard III on the battlefield -- facing the forces of Henry Tudor.   During this battle, Lord Thomas Stanley and his brother Sir William Stanley switched sides and fought for Henry.   Not only were the Yorkist forces defeated, but Richard was killed, and Henry became the new king.

The history of this battle is important because Andrew Mandeville, third son to the Earl of Rosmar, was with his grandfather and elder brothers, Thomas (first son) and Hugh (second son) at Bosworth.   Andrew saw his grandfather and eldest brother die and witnessed the dishonorable actions of the Stanley brothers.   The young Mandeville brothers were throw into the Tower and Rupert Stanley was given the Mandeville lands and titles.

Fourteen years later King Henry gives Andrew back the Mandeville lands and title when Rupert dies (ignominiously).   King Henry, now happily married, is trying to end any possible uprisings by trying to tie Yorkist supporters to Lancastrian supporters via marriage.   For Andrew's descendants to retain custody of Rosmar, he must marry the Stanley widow.   As expected, Andrew hates all things "Stanley" but will marry the widow to secure his heritage.

What Andrew does not expect, however, is that Rupert's widow, Catherine Avery Stanley, wants nothing to do with marriage (having been married to an abusive tyrant for the past fifteen years).   Catherine returns to her home after burying her husband to find Andrew the new Lord of Rosmar and legal guardian to her five-year-old daughter Eleanor "Nell" Stanley.   The cynical, bitter Andrew, lacking in any courtly skills, tells Catherine that unless she marries him, he will not let her be with her daughter.   Now a different war ensues.

After complaining about Cody's inability to inspire a depth of emotion in the previous two books of the trilogy, can say that was not the case in this third book.   Must confess that by the time finished this book, experienced true hatred towards Joan Mandeville, the mother of the Mandeville brothers, and anyone who had royal blood in their veins.   However, must explain that the tears and anguish Cody managed to generate was tied to the relationship between Hugh and Andrew -- not to the growing relationship between Andrew and Catherine.

Dom Hugh Mandeville is with his brother at Rosmar when Catherine arrives.   Although Andrew loves his brother, he hates him as well -- for not protecting him from the guards in the Tower when he was an injured boy of seventeen -- forgetting that Hugh was a young man of twenty, also imprisoned and suffering the same degradations.   For the longest time, Andrew and readers are completely puzzled that Hugh decided to become a Cistercian monk a year after being released from the Tower.   Hugh is so richly developed (even given a point of view voice a couple of times) that he steals the spotlight away from Andrew several times.   Hugh is so vivid, bold, charismatic, and tortured by the past that want Cody to write him a book giving him a happily-ever-after too.

Hugh is not the only secondary character that garners great interest.   Sir Michael Dennison lives in the manor next to Rosmar.   Andrew grew up as a boyhood friend to Michael and Catherine developed a friendship with Michael and Joan Dennison during her years at Rosmar.   Now that Michael is a widower, Catherine turns to him -- asking him to marry her so she can thwart the plans of the domineering, commanding Andrew.   Michael, however, goes to Andrew and gives him one month to court Catherine -- to win her heart and hand.   Michael also informs Andrew that he is now a spy for King Henry -- and that the political climate in London is unstable and he should not go there.   Michael's character was not as well-developed as Hugh's, but he was a wonderful addition to the story.   He is one of those fascinating secondary characters that stands out in a crowd and has one hoping that the author would write his story as well.

Hugh is not the only Mandeville brother to grace the pages of the book.   The happy, joyful youngest brother, Jamie (nineteen), arrives at Rosmar.   It seems a London merchant's daughter has turned up pregnant and names Jamie as the father.   Since there is a special something about Jamie that draws people to him, Andrew is not surprised Alice would want to marry him.   Hugh, however, doubts Jamie and forces him into the confessional to prove his innocence.   Jamie shines a bright light onto the otherwise darkly haunted images flooding the other Mandeville brothers.   Enjoyed Jamie's addition to the cast of characters.   Cody, however, did not tie up the loose end of Alice.   Somehow the angry merchant father that caused Jamie to flee to Rosmar, disappeared into the woodwork.

Two other bright, shiny, minimally-developed characters added interest to the book.   Catherine's daughter, Nell, quickly won readers' and Andrew's heart.   Particularly enjoyed the scene at Michael's where Nell revealed the 20th-century-sounding name to the puppy Michael had given her.   Catherine was guardian to her beautiful sixteen-year-old cousin Anne.   The budding interest between Jamie and Anne played a small part in the story -- and eventually revealed to Catherine that marrying the man you love is more important than marrying for lands and titles.

Even through they were minimally developed, liked that Cody included two other supporting characters to the story, Catherine's loquacious, elderly long-time maidservant was always in the shadows.   Owain ap Morgan, Catherine's elderly, loyal steward, played a minimal role, but enjoyed the picture Cody painted of this character.

Although understood that Cody had to quickly heal the animosity between Andrew and Catherine so they could declare their undying love for one another (so she could develop the second, suspenseful half of the book), it almost felt forced.   It just didn't ring true that the long-term grudge-holding Andrew, would be the first one to present himself as vulnerable to Catherine.   Andrew and Catherine made love with a lot more emotion than heat and sizzle -- understandable since Andrew had to tread slowly with a battered wife who never experienced joy during sex before.

Once they were in love, in historical Mandeville fashion, once a Mandeville's bride fell for him, they became a deeply devoted couple.   (Except, of course, for Joan Mandeville, who not only betrayed her husband, but also her sons.)   When Andrew took Catherine to London (ignoring Michael's warning) to sign King Henry's marriage documents, he found himself mired in another Yorkist plot.

Cody did an excellent job of keeping the reader tied to the pages as Andrew, Catherine, Hugh and Michael struggled to keep Andrew alive and safe after he was lured into a trap set by Edmund de la Pole, Earl of Suffock.   It seems that Edmund is angry at not being awarded Rosmar and will go to any length to acquire it.   It is during this very emotional, suspenseful time of the story that anger flared and tears flowed.   Hugh's very deep, dark secret was revealed to explain why (even though his nature did not lend itself to such a calling) he became a priest.

When picked up The Golden Rose to finish the trilogy, saw that had read this book before.   Although was not assigning a rating to books back then, sometimes wrote a couple of words about liking the book.   The words revealed that found this book to be very good, but they also indicated that my tastes have changed or I was in a different frame of mind then, because it seems this book came across as more sensual eleven years ago than it did this week.   Does this perception have something to do with the way the genre has changed because twenty-first century readers require more spice and sizzle in their books?   Think so.   Is this a good thing or a bad thing?   Don't know.   However, find it sad that the same book that inspired sensuality eleven years ago fails to do so today.

All in all, found The Golden Rose, by Denée Cody, the third book in The Mandeville Trilogy, to be (at times) an exciting, suspenseful, romantic, emotional read.   Cody very creatively, painted a picture of what could have happened to a wealthy, powerful family loyal to the king when said king is killed in battle.   She realistically portrayed the bitterness and angst suffered by Andrew, a dispossessed son.   The turmoil of Catherine, a widow battling against being forced into another, possibly brutal, marriage.   The deep emotions that passed between Hugh and Andrew, brothers who endured war, prison and a cruel fate.   The suspense of having to outwit a villain who covets their lands and titles.   The Golden Rose is an enjoyable, interesting book, well worth reading.
--Vonda M. Reid (Monday, April 9, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.)     [229]

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Books In The Series: The Mandeville Trilogy
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.08-1996The Court of LoveStephan de Mandeville, Earl of RosmarJulianna Devereux, Countess of Rosmar
02.06-1997Queen of the MayAlexander de Mandeville, Baron of WolfhurstGiselle / healer to Robyn of Sherwood's band
03.06-1998The Golden RoseAndrew Mandeville, Earl of RosmarCatherine Avery Stanley, Lady of Rosmar

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The Golden Rose Quotations:
30 They leave holes in us, when those we love die.
156 Others with a stronger faith than he possessed would have to be brave enough to ask for that grace.
173 "Hatred corrupts us.   Rupert is dead and best forgotten.   He has no power over us now, save what we give him."
262 There were times the need to hold another person, to feel the simple contact of that touch drove him nearly mad with painful longing.
262 There was no one he shared his heart with, no one he whispered dreams to, no one who erased his fears.   His life was above all else solitary and the barrenness of it was at times more than he could endure.

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Characters Found In "The Golden Rose"
Character / Location Description / Relationships
Andrew Mandeville,
Earl of Rosmar
[Hero] (10) large man; low, dark voice (17) lived in exile in Flanders; rumored to sail seas, remove cargo; dangerous; powerful presence; born to title Earl of Rosmar (18) a warrior; familiar with command (19) large hand with thick white scar on back; long strong fingers (21) open display of emotion made him uneasy (26) injured in battle (31) in Tower 3 months; good man; difficult to see past wide, deep barriers (32) thick chested (45) mask of cynicism; eternally dissatisfied for failure to meet his high expectations for himself (48) not extravagant (50) attractive in a fierce, unapproachable way (57) injured arm healed improperly, could not fully straighten (59) tightly controlled manner; disinclined to violence (65) dark; intense; unsettling gaze (67) beard (92) an enigma (108) dark hair hung over his collar (132) wide chest; described scar on shoulder (175) face almost severe; thin nose; sharp cheekbones; dark brows; glittering black eyes; few strands of silver in dark brown hair with reddish highlights; carried himself proudly; wide, strong shoulders; straight back; long legs (176)
Catherine Avery Stanley,
Lady of Rosmar
[Heroine] recently widowed (7) married to Rupert for 15 years; had learned to appear meek and obedient to escape Rupert's displeasure (17) bore Rupert four children, only one lived (19) no beauty; plain; small (26) retained composure (28) not yet 30; only child; sent to marry at twelve (35) transformed from a tight-lipped, angry woman to one of charm and beauty (75) core as strong as steel; stubborn (81) red-gold hair, the color of dark amber with sunlight shining through it; smelled of roses; attractive (96) never good at solving puzzles (108) cautious; careful; structured; made lists, followed them (109) 27-y-o (112) quiet grace and strength (156)
. . .. . .
Anne[Secondary Character] Catherine's young cousin (8) beautiful; innocent (18) 16-y-o; Catherine's ward when orphaned (55) kind; a gentleness that made her charming; uncommonly beautiful; red-gold hair; creamy skin; bright green eyes; dowry not immense (56) quiet; shy (90)
Duchess of Burgundy[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] plotting to put a York on throne (148)
Cecilia[No Appearance] woman Hugh fell in love with at 21 (302)
Joan Dennison[No Appearance] Michael's beloved wife (71) died three years ago (79)
Sir Michael Dennison[Major Secondary Character] Rosmar's neighbor; Dennison Manor (9) known as fair and generous lord (30) large, steady hands (65) taller than Andrew; blond; loose, easy grace; open; generous; caring (67) Henry's spy; charming; ingenuous to a fault (80) best dogs, finely trained (139) mother Irish; 5 brothers, 3 sisters (142)
Adam Francis[No Appearance] London merchant; lodged serious complaint against Jamie (43)
Alice [Francis][No Appearance] merchant's daughter (45)
Gertrude[Secondary Character] Catherine's elderly maidservant (8) slept deeply; woke immediately; accomplished more in day's time than most people in fortnight; ample shoulders (54) long gray hair braided, hung down her back (_) Catherine's childhood nurse (163) loquacious (182)
___ Mandeville[No Appearance] Andrew's father; powerful; loud; opinionated; expected loyalty and obedience from sons; died two years before Bosworth (143)
Elizabeth Mandeville[One Appearance] Andrew and Catherine's 2-y-o daughter (338) dark hair and eyes like father (341)
Dom Hugh Mandeville[Major Secondary Character] Andrew's brother (10) monk and priest (11) rubbed thumb across top of index finger when agitated; usually grimly controlled (13) simple white habit and black scapular of Cistercian monk (15) sensual mouth (16) second son (27) far too handsome; tall; blond; incredible gray eyes; resonant dark voice; priest in archbishop of Canterbury's household (30) older than Andrew by 2-3 years; twenty when at Bosworth, in Tower (32) year after release from Tower went to Cistercians at Tintern Abbey in Wales; with Archbishop Morton last two years (32) air of innocence (33) gaunt from fasting (45) worked hard at being holy; eternally dissatisfied since set such high principles for himself (48) scholar (58) remembers everything he reads (116) profoundly regal; glowing aura of pride (134) obvious presence and charisma; careful and deliberate in word and gesture; broad shoulders; tall frame (134) clever; intelligent; efficient; do not belong with monks (263)
Jamie Mandeville[Major Secondary Character] youngest brother; in London (30) easy going; happy, irresistible child; bright heart that brought joy to those around him (43) honest; dutiful (44) disconcertingly handsome; curling dark hair; same silvery-gray eyes as Hugh; 19-y-o; tallest brother; lean; powerful; subtle grace; cheerful and generous personality (45) purity of heart; something special about Jamie; never seen battle; not scarred (48)
Joan Mandeville[No Appearance] Andrew's mother (273)
Richard Mandeville[One Appearance] Jamie and Anne's son (342)
Thomas Mandeville[No Appearance] Andrew's brother; eldest son; dead at Bosworth (25)
Marie[Brief Appearance] Rosmar maid (29)
Mary[One Appearance] new nurse (341)
Maud[Brief Appearance] Rosmar maid; young, but no child; big breasts; lush, round hips that sway with invitation; cold appraising eyes (41) heavy perfume disguised rancid odors of sweat and dirt clinging to her skin, clothes, hair; pretty, in ripe ordinary way; voice high as little girls; petulant as a jade (42) felt herself equal to Catherine (43)
Owain ap Morgan[Occasional Appearances] Catherine's loyal steward; old enough to be her grandfather (8) skiff of white hair growing around the bald dome of his head (9)
Archbishop Morton[Actual Historical Character / Brief Appearances] Hugh's boss (31)
Brother Peter[One Appearance] ancient monk; bald; escorted Catherine (256)
King Richard Plantagenet[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] died at battle of Bosworth; Mandeville's loyal to their king (27)
Edmund de la Pole,
Earl of Suffock
[Actual Historical Character / Major Secondary Character] Duchess of Burgundy's nephew (148) cold, calculating eyes; dangerous animal (200)
John de la Pole[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] King Richard named him as his heir; Richard's nephew; killed (148)
Roderigo Gonzalva de Puebla[Actual Historical Character / One Appearance] Spanish ambassador (207)
Edith [of Rosmar][One Appearance] Tomkin and Margery's baby (101)
Margery [of Rosmar][One Appearance] Tomkin's wife (101)
Tomkin [of Rosmar][One Appearance] Rosmar farmer; worked tenancy for nine years; father before him (101)
Eleanor "Nell" Stanley[Secondary Character] Catherine's 5-y-o daughter (8) pale gold hair, carefully plaited (115) charming, sweet child (156) blue eyes (158)
Henry Stanley[No Appearance] Catherine's little boy of four (129)
John Stanley[No Appearance] Catherine's oldest son (129) tall; strong; handsome boy of fourteen; rode horse too big and strong; took week to die (130)
Lady Margaret Stanley[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] Catherine's sister-by-law; her husband brother to Rupert; king's mother; stern; virtuous; fair (37) Countess of Derby (196) most powerful woman in England; born a Beaufort (196) Countess of Richmond and Derby (199)
Mary Stanley [No Appearance] Catherine's daughter; born 10 years ago; died of fever; only few months old (129)
Rupert Stanley[No Appearance] Catherine's deceased husband; proud; died choking on a piece of pork roast (7) youngest of several brothers (20) servants served with fear; disliked; no loyalty (29) 30 years older than Catherine; neither kind nor patient (131) selfish; self-indulgent (140)
Thomas Stanley,
Earl of Derby
[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] William's brother; married to king's mother (12) Margaret's fourth husband (196) Earl of Derby (196)
William Stanley[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] joined enemy's army at Bosworth; joined one of first rebellions against Henry Tudor; executed (12)
King Henry Tudor[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] king (12) notorious for reversing the attainders of men whose support he wished to curry (16) happily married sovereign (36) greedy for every penny felt entitled to (37) attractive man in his youth; ruddy complexion; red hair, now thinning; years made him hard, humorless; serious man; punctilious about protocol (288)
Earl of Warwick[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] in Tower (143) nephew of late King Richard; to be tried in Star Chamber (144)
Elizabeth of York,
Queen of England
[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] plump blond woman (199) warm; motherly; obtuse at times; not guilty of deliberate cruelty or pettiness; life revolved around pleasing her husband (288)

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The Golden Rose Reviews:
RatedPostedSiteNotes, Comments, Etc.
4.50 average{4 reviews}Amazonas of: May 24, 2012
4.00 average{1 review}Barnes & Nobleas of: May 24, 2012 (mine)
----Fantastic FictionList of Books
----Fiction DBList of Books
5.0004-10-2001GenreFluent Books of the Weekalso on Amazon
4.00 average{1 review}Good Readsas of: May 24, 2012 (mine)
3.50 average{4 ratings}Library Thingas of: May 24, 2012 (mine)
4.25 average{3 reviews}Paperback Swapas of: May 24, 2012
3.50 average{2 reviews}Shelfarias of: May 24, 2012
4.0004-10-1998The Romance Readerexcellent helpful review
4.2505-24-2012Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, B&N, fdb, GR, LT, Shelfari ♥

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♥  Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥  Very Subjective Rating
♥  Willing to share Cheat Sheet
    ♦  in whole or in part
    ♦  WordPerfect or PDF
♣  Will add your The Golden Rose review link to table, just ask

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