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Katherine Sedley lived by her own rules and loved who she pleased- until she became the infamous mistress of King James II...London, 1675: Born to wealth and privilege, Katherine is introduced to the decadent court of King Charles II, and quickly becomes a favorite from the palace to the bawdy playhouses. She gleefully snubs respectable marriage to become the Duke of York'Katherine Sedley lived by her own rules and loved who she pleased- until she became the infamous mistress of King James II...London, 1675: Born to wealth and privilege, Katherine is introduced to the decadent court of King Charles II, and quickly becomes a favorite from the palace to the bawdy playhouses. She gleefully snubs respectable marriage to become the Duke of York's mistress.But Katherine's life of carefree pleasure ends when Charles II dies, and her lover becomes King James II. Suddenly she is cast into a tangle of political intrigue, religious dissent, and ever-shifting alliances, where a wrong step can mean treason, exile, or death at the executioner's block. As the risks rise, Katherine is forced to make the most perilous of choices: to remain loyal to the king, or to England....

Title : The Countess and the King: A Novel of the Countess of Dorchester and King James II
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780451231154
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Countess and the King: A Novel of the Countess of Dorchester and King James II Reviews

  • Orsolya
    2019-05-26 08:59

    Restoration England and the reign of King Charles II were bursting at the seams with scandal, intrigue, and mistresses in the King’s royal bed. Yet, it wasn’t just the King passing his time with these wanton women- it was most men, including his brother and heir to the throne, James. One of James’s leading ladies was Katherine Sedley (daughter of poet and playwright, Charles Sedley). Susan Holloway Scott presents a novel interpretation of this relationship in, “The Countess and the King: A Novel of the Countess of Dorchester and King James II”.“The Countess the King” begins with an introduction to Katherine Sedley, her father, and childhood in order to establish her roots from the innocent days of her youth and then follows her growth into adulthood (in fact, the chapters tend to skip ahead chunks in chronology). The blatant problem is that there isn’t much to be said for Katherine. Meaning, her character is one-dimensional, boring, vacant, insipid, and lacks any character development. She isn’t truly involved in any intrigue or excitement and thus, one questions why she is even the main character as she isn’t comparable to the show-stopping mistresses of King Charles II. This results in an absence of likability or support from the reader. The same can be said for the entire plot of “The Countess and the King” or in this case: the lack thereof. Nothing truly happens and much of the text is merely ‘shown’ versus ‘lived’ except for small bursts here and there. Scott is guilty of an overabundance of, “As you know, Bob”- style writing and consequentially the pace is slow and the story is empty. On the other hand, Scott has a way with words and offers beautiful, descriptive language which creates an aura of figurative illustration along with strong historical fact (she clearly conducted heavy research). This waters down the fluff and makes “The Countess and the King” more compelling to read. However, overall, the novel doesn’t feel strongly rooted in Stuart England and both the story and writing feels more Victorian in nature. “The Countess and the King” does contain some bodice-ripper moments (I suppose this is natural when the novel is about a mistress) and therefore can be categorized as more of a romantic historical fiction.James isn’t truly introduced into Katherine’s life until page 220 which again demonstrates Katherine’s inconsequence. Even after becoming James’s mistress; not much happens, nothing is learned, and Katherine doesn’t evolve or grow. It’s sort of baffling that she is the focus of a novel, at all. Once James joins the pages of “The Countess and the King”; there is still an air of emptiness and slow plot. The reader waits patiently for a climax that never occurs. Indeed the best way to describe the novel: very flat with no uphill climb or descend. The events of notice don’t even involve Katherine and are more so derivative of the political scene and King Charles II. This flat line is acceptable within a character-study piece but as already established—“The Countess and the King” is a far stretch from thus. It isn’t until the final quarter (perhaps even less) that “The Countess and the King” finally turns to more substance and depth. James becomes a stronger, more pivotal character when he takes the throne and Katherine finally offers an ounce of emotion and complexity. Although this is too little, too late; it is better than nothing at all.The conclusion of “The Countess and the King” showed a little spunk but not nearly enough to save the novel. It is Scott’s ‘Author’s Note’ offering some insight into Katherine and the other figures involves that adds more essence to the reading. Sadly, the ‘Author’s Note’ is stronger than the novel and serves as a better epitaph to Katherine.Scott’s “The Countess and the King” is a decent introduction to Katherine Sedley and some of the politics of Restoration England. However, it is better suited for those who enjoy their historical fiction novels on the fluffier, romantic end of the spectrum being that the novel suffers from a flat plot with no nuances, lack of character development, and no story arc/climax. As long as the reader doesn’t expect a masterpiece then there is enough of a sentiment of entertainment. “The Countess and the King” is recommended for readers interested in Restoration England or Katherine Sedley but merely as a lighter piece.

  • Elis Madison
    2019-06-03 01:09

    James II's first wife, Anne Hyde, was a love match. (Is it me or is his facial expression kind of hilarious? You might need to view a larger version.)When Anne died, his brother (Charles II) married him to the beautiful Mary of Modena. It was not a love match. James, it seems, liked his women plainer (my kinda guy).James's first mistress (while he was married to Anne AND Mary) was Arabella Churchill. And after she was pensioned off, he turned to Katherine Sedley, our heroine.Katherine was the daughter of Charles Sedley, a renowned wit, playwright, drunken exhibitionist and favorite of King Charles II. When his wife, (Kat's mum) went like WAY NUTS, he (really!)shipped her off to a convent-slash-asylum and hooked up with Anne Ayscough. Anne became his "second wife" (while he was still married to the first). Evidently Charles II chose to overlook the bigamy. When Katherine hooked up with James II, we're told that Sedley objected. For Kat, it was twu wuv. Likely it was for James as well. This is a guy who converted to Catholicism at a time when he was heir apparent to the throne of England and England wanted nothing to do with a Catholic king. He was exiled—twice, and Parliament tried more than once to exclude him from the succession. A less sincere convert would have converted back to the Anglican Church and settled things, but James held to his faith even though it was mighty inconvenient. He was, in other words, sincerely convinced that the Roman Church was the one True Church. When his confessors browbeat him for this thing with Katherine (they probably wouldn't have minded near as much had his mistress been Catholic) he wobbled, but he kept returning to Kat—even at the risk of his immortal soul. Kat is presented as her father's daughter. She's a wit—sometimes not a nice one. She's not pretty but there's something about her that intrigues some men—Peter Lely may have captured it in his much more flattering portrait:Note she's wearing a costume previously worn in an early portrait of her good friend Nelly Gwynn. One of Katherine's interesting quotes about James sums up her bemusement that he would choose her. "It cannot be my beauty for he must see I have none," she said. "And it cannot be my wit, for he has not enough to know that I have any." Anyway, whatever they saw in each other, it lasted until England ran him off.As with all the books in this group by Susan Holloway Scott, I really loved the insights into this period in history. Katherine, who is more of a villain in Duchess, the story about Sarah Churchill, presents her side of that story here, and her humor is well represented. Scott also writes historical romances as Isabella Bradford. They look to be Regencies (grumble) but I will probably pick one up next time I shop.4.5 Stars

  • BAM The Bibliomaniac
    2019-05-28 09:00

    3.5 stars RTC

  • Amy Bruno
    2019-06-08 07:43

    In my historical fiction reading experience there are a handful of authors that you just know automatically that you’re going to love whatever they put out and each new book becomes the new favorite….well, Susan Holloway Scott is one of them for me! In The Countess and the King, Kate Sedley is not your typical heroine…and I LOVE that! She’s not beautiful and a little too skinny, but what she does possess is a sense and humor, and a quick, sharp mind and an ever sharper (and quicker) tongue. I fell in love with her immediately just by reading the prologue page and was her champion throughout the book. I laughed with her, cried with her and raved against the injustices she was made to endure and felt victorious when she conquered. I think out of all the heroines I have read about that Kate is the one I could most see myself being buddies with. Like her I was an only child, mostly raised by one parent and prefer the company of men to women and use humor to deflect our shortcomings.Kate’s relationship with her father was particularly fascinating to me. Charles Sedley was a favorite at the court of King Charles II as a poet and playwright and at that court is where Kate got most of her “education”. Treated more as a friend than a daughter, Kate’s father would have her stay out all night with him at either Whitehall or the gambling and playhouses. Not the typical upbringing of a noble lady. But it’s Kate’s uniqueness that attracts the attentions of James, Duke of York (future King James II). He might not be as clever as she, but she falls for him nonetheless and I very much enjoyed reading about their relationship, especially after he becomes King and her position is perilous.Another treat for me was that we get to spend some time with Nell Gwynn (LOVE her) as she and Kate become good friends, as well as, Charles II and Louise de Keroualle (his French Mistress). I can imagine that Susan had a ball with writing some of those scenes!!!Susan’s knowledge of the politics of the day are unquestionable, her writing is impeccable, witty and has a certain je ne sais quoi about it that I just can’t put a name to, but would know her style immediately. The Countess and the King has taken the #1 favorite read of the year spot for me and I highly recommend it to all of you!

  • Bookaholics
    2019-06-15 06:44

    The Countess and the King by Susan Holloway ScottHistorical Romance- Sept 7th, 20104 1/2 stars Katherine Sedley, the daughter of a mere baronet, was not blessed with either beauty or charms. But what she lacks in appearance, she makes up with her razor-sharp wit. Set in the decadent yet wildly dangerous royal court of King Charles II, Katherine captures the attention of the King’s brother, James Stuart, the Duke of York. Refusing to marry, she instead becomes the Duke’s mistress, sacrificing respectability for love and power. But when the King passes away and she becomes the new King’s mistress, can she navigate the treacherous court? With the growing tension between the King and the people, who will she follow?For a historical novel with tons of facts crammed into it, this is a surprisingly easy to read and an ENJOYABLE historical novel. My grasp of the English history is rather pathetic. (I usually don’t read historicals unless it’s a regency romance.) Thankfully, Scott is a skillful writer who doesn’t rely on an information ‘dump’ to tell us the setting. Instead, she begins the book from the viewpoint of a child who discovers the court and its treachery and wonders, bit by bit. By following Katherine from her childhood, we are slowly introduced to the English politics in 1660s. So instead of having to learn Whigs from Tories in one huge, off-putting paragraph, we learn it as Katherine learns it - piece by piece. Slowly the events build up, until in the end, I felt like I know the distinction between those two English parties and their relevance to the plot. Unconsciously, I also learn more about English history than I ever will by trudging through a history book. Though her lover, the Duke, is a royal prince, he is only a supporting player in this novel. The star of this book has always been Katherine. She’s so fully fleshed out and sympathetic character. Sure, I cringed at some of her bawdy humor, but I liked her all the same. I wanted her to succeed. I wanted her to best the duchess and keep the Duke’s constant attention to herself. I admired her resourcefulness and bravery. It is women like her that feminists should look up to. Given her limited circumstances - lower birth and ugliness, she makes uses her intelligence and managed to keep the duke’s attention for over seven years. She’s inspiring, to say the least. If you are a fan of light historical novels, you should definitely give this book a try.Reviewed by Pauline from the Bookaholics Romance Book Club

  • Rio (Lynne)
    2019-06-04 06:50

    I was in the mood to return to Charles II's court and I was not really familiar with Ms Sedley. I enjoyed reading about someone new and returning to familiar characters. On the other hand the book dragged at times as Scott's novels can do. Ms. Sedley was a witty, non-conformist, which to me summed up Charles II's reign (free spending, no responsibility age.) I enjoyed it. It just wasn't a page turner.

  • Lucy
    2019-06-02 05:45

    Want to read a book that reveals 17th c history set in Charles II's English Court, filled with illustrious details of court life filled with historical precision along with love and the times (not to mention the glorious descriptions of setting and costume)- then RUN to get this!By now most of you know how much I adore reading anything that has to do with Charles II, so imagine my thrill when I began reading the story of Katherine Sedley, James II' mistress. I never really heard much about her until now and I'm glad to say that this novel added another dimension to what I already knew about this grand court.Katherine Sedley was no regular lady (especially by 17th c standards!) Not only did she not fit in in terms of beauty (too thin and rather homely for the times), she also spoke what was on her (witty) mind- and what came out was usually accompanied by swearing! Yet, she was of the nobility and her father (a politically involved playwright) was in Charles II's immediate circle...making Katherine by no means an ordinary or invisible lady.Against her father's will, she refused to be bound in marriage and had no real aspirations for love (having been disillusioned and often mocked for her meager looks). How could she ever expect The Duke of York- future King James II to fall madly in love with her? Impossible- yet true! The poor Catholic King-to-be was completely mesmerized by this Protestant temptress. The powerful counsel of Catholic priests strongly advised James against this temptation; all the while making Katherine all the more seductive to his eyes...The King could in no way abstain from Katherine's lure.Yet, Katherine Sedley was not the type to make demands on James- nor did she ever assume to be granted any favouritism by others- nor did she allude to the sort of grandiosity that other Grand mistresses (such as Louise de Keroualle- King Charles' favourite)...with Katherine it was always 'what you see is what you get'. Her love for James was real and she stood tall in her convictions and loyalty to England. A doting mother, a loving companion (lusty too- but written in such good taste!), Katherine remained steadfast to her English pride and would not be swayed from her own religion. Convinced that James was being brain-washed by his priests (her own mother's experience could not shake Katherine's conviction or disdain about this)-despite this, she never attempted to convert him to her own beliefs (but neither he, to his).A tempestuous political time where Catholics and Protestants fought for idealism and restoration in England- the Countess and The King is a delicious read for anyone interested not only in the love story itself, but also in the politics and religious conflicts of the times.I must say that this is a superb novel which will leave you completely satisfied in terms of history, historical figures in accurate detail, love story, entertainment (you've never met such an outspoken character as Katherine Sedley!) splendour of the court, perceptions and deceptions and- ultimately, the sadness that eventually befalls this type of love that is never quite meant to be.I LOVED this book.Note: You should also read French Mistress by Susan Holloway

  • Heather
    2019-06-13 08:02

    Unlike all of Scott’s recent releases about the mistresses of Charles II, this book is about the mistress of Charles’ brother, James II. While still remaining in a world that is entirely familiar and comfortable to me, I was able to explore another side to the world that I loved. Charles is still a frequent visitor to the story without being the center of attention. There was one scene in the novel where all of the mistresses of Charles II, as well as the Katherine Sedley and I think James II, were all in one room together and it was like being in a room full of friends.As always, Scott really impresses here, the writing is phenomenal and exceptionally bawdy. I love Katherine’s spunk, fire, and personality. She was allowed to grow up in a sort of no rules atmosphere within the edges of the court – which really makes for great story telling. As much as I have enjoyed Charles’ story in the past, I really enjoyed learning about James. He sort of had an “other brother” syndrome and was always trying to prove himself. His relationship with Katherine was so exciting and one of my favorites. But I want to emphasize that this was while he was Duke of York, once he became King of England I really couldn’t stand him anymore. As he embraced Catholicism and became less favored by the people, his relationship with Katherine changed and I just didn’t feel it so much anymore.My favorite quote from this book, which wasn’t actually from the story, but from the author’s note, really sums up this story well. As you may already know, King James II is eventually ousted in favor of his daughter Mary and her husband William, and this was made possible in part by Katherine’s father (who said the following) – “as the king has made my daughter a countess, the least I could do, in common gratitude, is to make his daughter a queen” (pg 383).Susan Holloway Scott hits this one out of the park yet again!This book was received for review from the publisher - I was not compensated for my opinions and the above is my honest review.

  • Rachel
    2019-06-09 02:47

    Although admittedly I did enjoy The French Mistress more than The Countess and the King, I was not entirely unsatisfied with this novel. The main gripes I might have would be that at times it did get a bit dull and the politics of the age seemed to bog down the story more often than not. Also, Katherine's relationship with the Duke of York did not surface until about halfway through the book and sometimes I felt like the novel focused less on her and James and more on her and her father. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but naturally I assumed it would have revolved around her relationship with the future monarch. Putting those minor things aside, I did love the historical accuracy that was maintained throughout, and you can clearly see that Susan Holloway Scott puts a lot into her research, which is, of course, much appreciated in royal fiction.

  • Hannah
    2019-06-18 04:12

    I saw this book on a display table in Barnes and Noble. I thought the cover was lovely and I'm a sucker for historical fiction, so I decided to get it despite having never heard of the author. And boy was I in for a treat! The heroine is likable, sassy, and a far cry from perfect. There are a lot of thorough and interesting details about the turbulent political climate during the reigns of Charles II and James II, but they were explained well and in such a way as to not go over the heads of readers who are unfamiliar with that era in history. I am happy to have discovered Susan Halloway Scott and will surely be checking out her other books. Many other romance writers could learn a lot about substance and character development from her.

  • Jerelyn
    2019-05-21 07:10

    I have read Susan Holloway Scotts, other books about Sarah Churchill and Nell Gwynn, They along with The Countess and the King it was interesting to read a sympathetic view point on Kate Sedley. Not an earth shattering read but not bad either.

  • Rebecca Huston
    2019-06-01 07:46

    Enjoyed this one very much. Katherine is very different than most historical heroines, and she was a breath of fresh air to this series. Very much recommended. For the complete review, please go here:

  • Vanessa
    2019-05-24 02:55

    The writing wasn't bad, but a little dry sometimes, and I never really could connect to the characters. I am sure this novel was well-researched, but there were times when I really wanted to quit reading cause it got a bit boring, and, well, too political. I finished it, though. I'm just not sure if I ever want to read another book by this author.

  • Susan
    2019-06-17 05:51

    I think I read too many royal mistress books too close together which tempered my feelings about this book.

  • Bree T
    2019-06-20 05:55

    Katherine Sedley was born to wealthy parents. Unfortunately her mother suffered from a form of mental illness that resulted in delusions and thinking that she was actually Queen Catherine, barren Queen of England, a myth that is perpetuated by her doctor, who humours and fawns over her. Often Katherine’s visits to her mother upset her so she has little to do with her – her upbringing is mostly done by governesses but her father also takes a large hand in her raising as well.Sir Charles Sedley is a poet/playwright who spends a lot of time at the various courts of King Charles II and from the time Katherine is around 9 or 10 he begins to take her with him. Young Katherine already has a rather smart wit and swears, can play cards, reads more than just the scriptures. She is exceedingly plain though, a skinny and ungainly child with no real promise in the looks department. Her father keeps her from gaining a position at Court, as he wants more for her than to be a whore. He also wants more than just a match with any old rogue, who would have her hand for her considerable dowry and fortune. Given this fortune, he wants Katherine to be free to marry for love and happiness but Katherine is never really inclined towards marriage.From a young age she catches the eye of the King’s younger brother, his Grace the Duke of York and they cross paths quite often in Katherine’s youth. It isn’t until she is older though that she becomes his mistress. The Duke of York is some 25 years older than Katherine, older than even her father and onto his second marriage. With Charles II having no sons, James is heir to the throne of England, which causes some problems among the people as he is a Papist, a practicing and devoted Catholic as is his second wife Mary Beatrice of Modena, niece to the Pope in Rome. The Duke of York has problems siring children too, having only two daughters surviving from his first marriage and a vast number of babies that don’t pass infancy with the current Duchess Mary.Katherine and the Duke’s liaison is a long one, lasting throughout his downturn in popularity and consequent exile by the King in order to calm the population who fear a vast Catholic invasion and seizure of the Crown. There is clamouring for the introduction of an act that would remove James, Duke of York from the line of succession and replace him with King Charles II’s illegitimate son, even a bastard being preferable to a Papist.But James does become the King and Katherine, who thought that her position as Mistress to him would be like the Duchess of Portsmouth’s role to King Charles, is stunned to find herself in a tangle of vast political webs with King James vowing to abolish the debauchery that was so rampant in Charles’ court and return to moral and chaste times. Katherine is offered the choice of exile to several locations but will she take them up on their ‘offer’ (more like a threat) or will she stay in London to try and win back the man she loves?The Countess and the King was my third novel read for the 2011 Global Reading Challenge seventh continent, which was free choice. Whilst the two I read previously predominantly dealt with King Charles II and his rather lusty appetite, this one was more focused on his successor, the Duke of York, his younger brother, a practicing Catholic and at times the subject of hatred, violence and the occasional assassination plot from the public, who feared anyone who was not a Protestant. And to have a Papist as the first in line for the throne….definitely cause for panic.A bit like Nell Gwyn in The King’s Favourite, Katherine is known and applauded for her wit and intelligence but unlike Nell she is not in any way beautiful. Instead we’re kind of beat over the head with how ugly she is with even some of the ‘wits’ at the castle writing poems about her lack of looks. It forms a huge part of the book with Katherine falling prey to a man who doesn’t want her, only her money. She’s often ridiculed by the Court, shunned by the ladies in waiting to the Duchess and ends up falling out with her father over her relationship with the Duke. He introduced her to life within the Palace but did not react well to her becoming a mistress, in a display of hypocrisy that I couldn’t help siding with Katherine over.The thing that most struck me about this book was that unfortunately, it’s quite sloooow pace wise. It starts when Katherine is about 9 or 10 and although we do skip forward in time occasionally, it’s basically a long time before anything of note happens. She doesn’t become the Duke’s mistress until she’s about 20 or so, maybe even older so it’s a lot of her just wandering around Court in its various locations being ‘witty’ and observing things that are going on. It’s 200 or so pages in to a 400 page book by the time she sleeps with the Duke and from then on it’s much more interesting. I think it might have worked better if the whole book revolved around her relationship with the Duke of York and the political situation of the time, with him being a Papist and the paranoia and hysteria this whipped up. That is all covered, but I get the feeling there could have been more depth to some of the aspects, such as the flippant remarks about Mary of Modena losing yet another baby. The first 200 pages do end up reading like a bit of a waste of time once you reach the really meaty part of the story.

  • Lettie
    2019-05-31 05:55

    This was a good book; the first I have read on James II. However, I could not get attached to, or care about, any of the characters. I would love to find another story about these two, to see if it may have just been the writing. However,I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for some historical fiction prior to Henry VIII.

  • Shirlyn
    2019-06-16 04:53

    A bit slow

  • Kirstin
    2019-06-15 06:06

    This was my first book set during Restoration England. Heeding the voice of the English people was still a very new concept and it must have been a very dynamic time to live. Both Charles and James (I wonder what they would do to knowing a measly American is calling them by their Christian names ) never really grasped the concept of actually listening to the people rather than just hearing the words they were saying. While a lot of The Countess and the King: A novel of the Countess of Dorchester and King James II is about the politics of the time, it is more about the interesting Katherine Sedley. She was the only daughter of Sir Charles Sedley. While not a member of the noble class, she was wealthy. She had an unusual upbringing since her mother was in a convent due to her mental illness and her father was a sort of playboy in his day. Essentially raised by her father, she was known for her wit and bawdry actions as well as being very plain. From a young age, she was surrounded by loose women and placed in situations well below her station. So it is of no surprise she became a mistress herself, a royal mistress. Fortunately for her, mistresses were not only common but accept during most of history (of course adultery was only disregarded for men).I was actually surprised at how her upbringing was described. Her father continually remarked how he wished she behaved properly, yet laughed at her improper references and continued to openly frolic with women in public and in front of her. I know people raised their children very differently then and standards of behavior were, well let’s say complicated, but I have a hard time understanding her father’s intentions towards her.There were two things that bugged me throughout. One was Katherine’s foresight. They never mentioned she was physic, but she quite often knew what was coming. I realize that this isn’t uncommon in fiction novels, but it was too much here. I wanted to find out about the good and bad as the characters figured it out and not be warned of the pending change of circumstance. I, also, got confused with all the Your Majesty, Highness, Grace, Lordship,….etc. I have read enough books to realize different titles were given to different stations, but come on!! When you mention 3 different people in the same paragraph without giving a name, it gets confusing. It got better after Katherine became a mistress and His Highness the Duke of York became just James.Overall, I thought the first part of this book was more entertaining than the last. I honestly got a little bored once she became the mistress. It became more about politics and less about the people. Don’t get me wrong, the politics of the time are necessary to the story and I like learning about a different time, but the people interest me more. I rated this book a 3 instead of a 2 because I wasn’t sure if I thought the book was only ok or if I just didn’t like Katherine Sedley. I think more of it was my dislike towards her character which influenced my opinion of this book, but since most of Susan Holloway Scott’s books are about mistresses I am not sure I will be reading many more.

  • Kelly
    2019-06-01 08:01

    3 words: Fab-U-lous!Ok not technically three words, but I can't help it. This book was fabulous; there are just no other words. This is my first historical fiction in the 17th century, and it did not disappoint! The story revolves around a young girl named Katherine Sedley. Her mother is sent away for being a little on the crazy side, so she is sent to live with her father at the age of 10. Her father surrounds her with the company of his friends who are less then desirable characters. She was brought up without the proper manners that a mother would normally teach, and she often spoke very plainly. Katherine's father was a well known libertine and favorite of King Charles II, so Katherine was exposed to all of the fancy lifestyles that the court had to offer at a very young age.When Katherine was young she was a very innocent girl and naive. She wanted to find a true love, but that was just not in the cards for her. She was heartbroken at a young age, and from then on never sought out to marry anyone. She hardly had the looks to find a suitable man, and always seemed to find the guy that used her. That is one great quality in Katherine, because she never needed to depend on anyone else, she was content to be on her own, and figure things out! She was often seen as a bold young woman that wasn't afraid to say what was on her mind, even when she was in front of the king himself!When the Duke of York James II (King Charles II's brother) marries, Katherine is called to court to be with the new Duchess of York, because they are around the same age and the King hopes they can relate to one another. Katherine, however, has other plans, and soon finds herself as the mistress to the Duke of York. This is where all the great scandal and betrayal enters the story. Her father very much disproves of her being a mistress to the Duke, because surrounding the relationship involves a great risk. As England fights hard to become a Protestant church, her lover is Catholic and true to his convictions, which may in turn cause trouble for Katherine and James II. The two are true to each other though, and even had a daughter together named Lady Catherine Darnley. There is so much more I'd like to say about this book, it has definitely opened my eyes to 17th century England, and I want to read more of Susan Holloway Scott's books. She writes in a way that it's easy to understand, but with the subtly of the English culture. It's hard not to get wrapped up in the drama that was 17th century England. A great book all around, and I think I've found a fascinating new woman to admire!!

  • Amanda
    2019-06-04 07:54

    Historical fiction author Susan Holloway Scott returns to the world she knows best: the racy Stuart court with yet another novel of a Stuart monarch's mistress. Straying somewhat from her Charles II plus mistress formula, Scott instead explores the life and relationship of Lady Katherine Sedley, the long-time mistress of King James II, Charles' brother and successor. By now I've read all of Scott's other novels, and have grown to enjoy them (I wouldn't say they would appeal to everyone, but definitely to certain readers). Particularly, I enjoyed her exploration of fascinating and fairly unknown women from history who defied social norms.Katherine Sedley is no except. Growing up in a well-to-do home, Katherine preferred to swear openly, indulge in "male" hobbies -like politics, and even dare to take lovers outside of marriage as she pleased. Katherine, with a highly political father, ends up catching the eye of James, heir apparent and brother of King Charles II. Despite Katherine's lack of physical beauty and unremarkable connections, she finds herself as James' mistress and later mother of his illegitimate daughter.Countess felt a little lighter on the politics than previous Scott novels, which made me a little sad -I always enjoyed the intrigue, but here it just seemed like there were just squabbles between Parliament's houses and parties, and between Parliament and Charles II, and Katherine was not really part of all this -it was offered as more of a backdrop to the period than anything else. However, Katherine was still portrayed as a strong female protagonist who frequently and without care defied what would have been expected of her for the time. Most interestingly, her relationship with James is shown as loving and powerful, rather than lustful and purely for convenience. Probably the only thing that bothered me here is that Scott continued to stay in safe waters -there's really not much new here accept that she shifted to another Stuart monarch's collection of mistresses (guess she finally exhausted all of the interesting ones for Charles II). Other than that, same old story here....I really enjoy Scott's novels, and I thought Countess was a solid offering from her, but I didn't enjoy it as much as some of her other novels and, frankly, I think I'm ready for something new from her.

  • Kelly A.
    2019-06-08 07:07 I say anything else, a BIG thank you to Historically Obsessed (one of my favorite blogs) for the giveaway that I won this book in! It was my very first time winning something like this! Also a thanks to the author, Susan Holloway Scott, for providing copies of the book! :)If you read my somewhat recent-ish review of The Secret Bride, you'll know that I've been wanting to read a book about a less than perfect heroine, particularly one whose beauty wasn't gushed over every two pages. I've found that heroine! Katherine Sedley was a mistress to James, Duke of York before he became King. She was very plain and an unlikely candidate for a mistress to royalty. She did however have wit beyond her years and gender that made her a favorite at court.The Countess and the King chronicles the life of Katherine from a child of about ten years until the time that James becomes King. We follow her through adolescence, heartbreak, scandal, and finally the love that she found with James. I really enjoyed reading about their time together. After reading about Charles II mistresses (the brother of James) and how corrupt and power-hungry those women were, it was refreshing to read about a woman who did not care for titles or jewels (although she got both).Upon initially finishing the book, I would have rated it somewhere between 4 and 4.5 stars. I then turned a few pages and found an Author's Note. The author filled us in on what historically happened after the book ends; what happened to Katherine, her children, and the monarchy. After reading this, I immediately bumped my rating up to 5 stars. I LOVE when authors do this. When a novel is based on historical events or a real person, I always want to know what happened after the book ends, just a few pages of information is sufficient. A big thumbs up to this!Overall, I adored this book. As I said before, 5 stars to a beautifully written and interesting story. After reading this and Dark Angels, I am borderline obsessed with the Stuarts and Charles II's reign (I feel like I am cheating on the Tudors!). I am definitely interested in picking up more of Susan Holloway Scott's work.

  • Katie
    2019-06-06 01:48

    I haven't read as much on the Stuarts as I have most of the other royal families of England, so I was looking forward to being enlightened on this Countess of whom I had not heard. I will readily admit that I am far more interested in the people, places & events of any period of history than I am in what took place in someone's bedroom, but this book had a surfeit of clandestine couplings and pillow talk. Although the author was not as lurid in the details of the physical relationships and individual encounters as others have been, I came away feeling that the book was nothing so much as a vehicle to get from one dalliance to another once Mrs. Katherine Sedley comes of age and gets herself into the Court circle. At that point, any real charcter development stopped, and though I read the book to the end, I found myself merely pushing through the second half of the book in (vain) hopes of gleaning something of historical significance beyond the bedroom shenanigans of the various characters. The fact that Katherine Sedley is crude and bawdy (yet witty) wears thin when that is all there seems to be to her existence outside the King's bed. The tale ends with the temporary/somewhat voluntary exile of Mrs. Sedley/Countess of Dorchester to Ireland, shortly before James II is deposed in favor of his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange. The Epilogue by the author implies that Mrs. Sedley/Countess of Dorchester was involved in the life of the Court during the reigns of both of James II's daughters (as her exile to Ireland was both temporary and short-lived), but provides no details. While I realize the title is "The Countess and the King," and that interaction is fully terminated by her exile (followed shortly by his own permanent exile to France), it would have been nice to have finished out her history as it related to her country, since the author states throughout the story that this was her first loyalty, even above loyalty to her lover, King James II.

  • Melanie
    2019-05-21 06:48

    I reviewed this book for Romance Reader At Heart website. This year I've decided to venture out of my comfort zone and read some historical fiction. I always thought them a bit of too much history and not enough action, plot or romance. Since the plot is summarized by the blurb, let me jump in and tell you that this book has proven me wrong. I wasn't really familiar with this time period, having only read one book set in it a couple of years ago. I did see couple of movies, notably "The Libertine" with Johnny Depp. I think it a great gift for an author to have when she makes you believe you're a part of a story; makes you feel, taste, and smell the period as well as have you completely lost in this painting of life in England during this time period. In giving such a vivid description, this book read and played out in my mind as a movie, or an even better description would be as if I were there next to Katherine. By the time the book ended, I felt like I lived and knew all the players personally. I was fascinated with every character she chose to introduce me to, and I was made to feel like I was hanging out with the King and his entourage! What surprised me the most is how UN-boring it was. Ms. Holloway Scott's writing and knowledge of the Restoration Era was superb. What I didn't like is how Katherine and the author went out of their way in telling us that she was no beauty, but thanks to Google, I disagree. She was a very handsome and pretty woman. I don't think that only her wit and charm would have been enough to keep someone like James II interested for over seven years. Regardless of that, I am in awe of this author and highly recommend you read this fascinating story full of well rounded characters, historical accuracy, a rich and evocative setting, love and intrigue, as well as substance. Melanie

  • Cassandra
    2019-06-17 02:10

    An interesting look into the life of Katherine Sedley. I'll admit that I knew nothing about her, and little about this time period when I began reading this book. Most of the books I read tend to take place about 100 years before this one did. It's interesting that a philanderer such as James II would remain loyal to his mistress. You'd think that one who behaves in this way wouldn't be loyal to anyone, as his brother, Charles, obviously wasn't. Katherine was interesting in that the author makes a point of it over and over to assure you that she is no beauty. It was rare for women who were not beautiful to have any sort of success in the Court, which makes Katherine a rare type of person. I enjoyed reading about the relationship between her and her father, especially as they are of opposite parties (Whig and Tory) toward the end of the book. That Katherine chooses to be loyal to one who can never truly be hers is perplexing and intriguing. She admits several times that James was no intellectual, and for a woman with Katherine's intellect, it would be surprising that she would be drawn to such a man as James. In addition to the characters and their relationships, I liked getting a glimpse of what this time period in England was like. I haven't read enough to get a clear picture, but the book did a great job of showing how the country and the people's attitudes were changing.

  • Carly Thompson
    2019-06-08 02:05

    Very good romantic historical novel about the relationship between Katherine Sedley and King James II. Narrated by Katherine the story covers Katherine's life from a young girl of around 10 until the end of her romance with King James II when she was in her late 20s. The emphasis of the story is clearly on the relationship between the two (hence the subtitle) although Katherine's relationship with her father and the court of both King Charles II and King James II are explored in detail. Katherine is a sympathetic character and the amount of period detail (clothes, locations, politics) is just right and doesn't overwhelm the story. The romantic male protagonist (King James II) came off as a bit of a jerk much like the real King James II. A large portion of the plot was about the conflict between Catholics and Protestants and since Katherine was a Protestant she viewed Catholics negatively. Although to a modern reader this seemed bigoted, it also was an accurate representation of the opinions of the time. I enjoyed reading about Restoration England (a time period I don't know much about) and following the journey of Katherine. There was some romance but it was more the story of a woman growing up, separating from her father, and loving a man who wasn't that great.

  • Destiny
    2019-06-01 01:56

    I really enjoyed this novel. I didn't know much about Katherine Sedley before I started reading this book, but as I read I found myself becoming more beguiled with her. I liked that she was witty and wasn't afraid to take shots at herself as well with other people in the story. While I've been interested in English history since I was 12 or 13 years old, it was more of the Tudor era and Elizabeth's reign. But I've recently branched out and Restoration England is on my list to learn about. So this book was my way of dipping into the waters. My preferred method of doing that is buying books, so of course I'm going to put Goodreads to good use. Also I'd love if there was a biography on Katherine Sedley.

  • Jane Mccrimmon
    2019-06-06 06:50

    I really enjoyed the story of James II and his mistress Katherine Sedley. One can look her portrait up on the internet and see the person who is telling us her story. The court settings of both Charles II and James II are very interesting. The court intrigue and plotting is so engrossing and it is so amazing given what had happened to Charles I (his beheading) that these two king brothers would allow so much to go on in their courts. The perspective of Katherine Sedley is very enlightening and some how puts a modern day perspective on their actions. It was nice to see that she survives and thrives after her involvement with James II ends. This was a great read and I will recommend this book to others.

  • Laura
    2019-05-28 01:52

    This is a historical novel based on the life of the long-time mistress of the English King James II, who took the throne after the unexpected death of Charles II, (you know, the Merry Monarch).Pretty well researched as far as the nature of the court at that time. I was more impressed with the way that religion had not yet been ironed out as a political football even at that far remove from the reign of King Henry VIII, who broke with Rome and established the Anglican church. The author did a good job of portraying the religious tensions of the time, and how anyone who kept company with Catholic priests, like Charles or rather his wife did, was viewed with great suspicion by the British public.

  • Brittany
    2019-05-26 07:06

    This is one of those books where you don't really care for any of the (main) characters (I loved Nell, as always) but you were still really interested in their stories. From the first time you meet Katherine Sedley, you know how this is all going to go, but it's still and intriguing read. Not dazzling, by any means, but solidly well-researched and well-written. The main detraction for me was the heavy-handed and poorly-done foreshadowing. Repeatedly, a chapter ended with something like. "Of course it would turn out to be disastrous, as I was soon to learn . . . " Authors get a pass on doing that once, maybe twice, if they're particularly deft, which Scott is not.

  • CoffeeTimeRomance andMore
    2019-06-18 03:43

    A fun historical isn’t usually an apt description, but Katherine is the kind of character that makes history far from dry. Katherine is smart and daring and sometimes brash but she is never, ever dull. Although usually I would empathize with the wife, this story had me rooting for the mistress and hoping that she made it through her many trials. An excellent work, and I will look for more of this authors work.VirginiaReviewer for Coffee Time RomanceFull Review: