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Monday, June 1, 2009

With Love, King Henry VIII by Helen Pilz

With Love, King Henry VIII by Helen Pilz
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (188 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Ivy

What Henry VIII wants, Henry gets. And he wants her ...

Thrown back in time to 1531, mousy accountant, Beth C’ de Baca Bouvier treads a razor’s edge. King Henry VIII’s romantic advances are not welcome, but she can’t insult the king of England who is sending her love letters. Equally as deadly, the amorous advances make her a target of Anne Boleyn’s ruthless jealousy. Nor can she escape the constant presence of the Lord Rochford plotting behind her back and watching her every move.

Beth would much rather spend her days and nights in the arms of fellow reluctant time traveler, Philip Radcliffe. Her dashing companion tries to protect her, but when Lord Rochford accuses Beth of treason, both she and Philip are sent to the Tower of London to face the executioner’s chopping block. Can they find their way back to the twenty-first century? Or will their love die with them somewhere in time?
I find that time travel genres have to be written very well for me to fall into the plotline and believe. I wasn’t so sure I could buy it when this story began: Beth Bouvier goes to a costume shop, tries on a dress given to her by a mysterious shop keeper, and in the dressing room, voila! She’s transported back to the time of Henry VIII. But the utterly fascinating idea of ending up in King Henry’s court reeled me in. For some reason, this main character has a hard time believing something has happened, and it takes too long for her to realize she’s really been transported back in time. At the very least, I’d think I’d eaten too many mushrooms or someone laced my Kool-aid.

Nonetheless, after the initial jump through time, the story took off for me and the believability did as well. Beth meets Philip in King Henry’s court then she recalls that they have already had an encounter--in the mysterious costume shop. Together the duo must keep from being sent to the chopping block and find their way home. Throw in King Henry’s sudden obsession with Beth‘s good looks and you have a great mix for adventure.

I felt like the research into the historical figures was very well done. It was fascinating to watch Ms. Pilz’s characters interact with King Henry and his women. That is very brave writing. The details of everyday life are meshed in, but not overdone. I learned a little about the era without being deluged by cliché facts.

Another plus, Pilz does not use the common tools of the bad first impression and hero and heroine at odds until a black moment brings them together scenario. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it’s the stuff of romance novels. Her choice to bring her couple together in their quest for survival and then let romance develop in natural progressive order is a nice change.

As the adventurous couple fights to survive in a cruel, unforgiving century, the storyline stays true to what would be reality. Of course, I would have liked to have seen Beth lose it and confront King Henry in a mad turn of events. I would have even liked their time travel costume shop hostess to have showed up, but Pilz uses no deus ex machine. We agonize right alongside Beth and Philip as they are taken all the way up to what appears will be their gruesome deaths. I had not idea how the ending would be resolved and that kept me up reading.

With Love, King Henry VIII is a fun and interesting read for those unfamiliar with the precise details of King Henry’s reign. Pilz shows she has the gift to create well-plotted adventure, every day approachable heroines, and an unflinching flair for bringing history to life.