KING HENRY’S CHOICE
by Emily-Jane Hills Orford
There are powers at play that continue to seek amalgamating Scotland to England – powers from the past and powers from the future. It’s the late 1800s and Queen Victoria wants more than mere access to the Scottish retreat at Balmoral Castle. But King Henry I of Scotland, direct descendent of Queen Mary Elizabeth I, the time traveling royal daughter of Mary Queen of Scots, is determined to keep Scotland free and independent and a powerful, progressive nation in its own right. The struggle to protect what is his by birthright becomes a battle that must be fought in the past, the present and the future and in other parts of the world. And, in the midst of each battle, there are choices to be made. Very difficult choices.
Henry caught the piercing gaze and held it with one of his own, equally piercing. “I do dare, Madam!” He snapped back. “This is my realm. Not yours. And it never shall be yours!” He almost spat out the last few words. He was adamant to make his point: Scotland, his country, would remain free and independent, for now and forever, as his countryman’s rallying cry firmly stated.
“Then Isabel comes home to London with me.” The English queen sniffed in a deep breath, feigning a sense of pride being wounded. “It’s where she belongs.”
“I think not!” Henry held his ground, glancing first at his wife then at the English queen.
“Why ever not, Henry?” Bertie gently challenged Henry. “She is obviously not wanted here.”
“Bertie’s right, Henry.” Isabel finally spoke between sniffles and catching little coughs, feigning an upset constitution. “I should return with my English cousins. London is my home. It always has been. Not this barren, cold north land.”
“No!” He glared at both women, then at Bertie who had moved closer to his mother during the interchange. “The last time a Scottish queen sought refuge in England under the protection of the English queen, the Scottish queen lost her head.”
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I enjoyed this more than I expected to. Historical isn’t my usual stomping grounds for fantasy, but this had some really interesting elements. The time travel, in particular, fascinated me. It presented a lot of complexities and challenges that kept the story moving and me guessing.
I did feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of characters. Maybe it’s because this is a spin-off from the author’s other work, but I had a tough time keeping who was related to whom straight. While the backward and forward through time was one of my favorite things about this, I also found myself a bit confused about what was being affected where/when. I’ve never been very good at that kind of round-about temporal thinking, and I’ll admit that may play a decent part in my confusion. Those more familiar with time travel elements will probably have no trouble.
In closing, the concept behind this is solid and presents a lot to think about. One of the characters is sick, but there are advancements far in the future that could help. Of course, there are the challenges of the space-time continuum to consider, but little things like this added a lot to the overall mystery. If you like time travel, fantasy, a mix of the two, and/or a well-realized historical setting, give this a try.
An avid gardener, artist, musician and writer, Emily-Jane Hills Orford has fond memories and lots of stories that evolved from a childhood growing up in a haunted Victorian mansion. Told she had a ‘vivid imagination’, the author used this talent to create stories in her head to pass tedious hours while sick, waiting in a doctor’s office, listening to a teacher drone on about something she already knew, or enduring the long, stuffy family car rides. The author lived her stories in her head, allowing her imagination to lead her into a different world, one of her own making. As the author grew up, these stories, imaginings and fantasies took to the written form and, over the years, she developed a reputation for telling a good story. Emily-Jane can now boast that she is an award-winning author of several books, including King Henry’s Choice (Clean Reads 2019), Mrs. Murray’s Ghost (Telltale Publishing 2018), Mrs. Murray’s Hidden Treasure (Telltale Publishing 2019), Queen Mary’s Daughter (Clean Reads 2018), Gerlinda (CFA 2016) which received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, To Be a Duke (CFA 2014) which was named Finalist and Silver Medalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and several other books. A retired teacher of music and creative writing, she writes about the extra-ordinary in life and the fantasies of dreams combined with memories.
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Emily-Jane Hills Orford will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway