Katherine Sedley, daughter of a Catholic madwoman and a roguish, learned Baronet who is friends with King Charles II, knows that while her looks are not those of the traditional beauty, her wit and marriage portion ensue that she will marry well. But Katherine knows that marriage turns a woman from a delightful miss worth the chase to a staid dowager often secluded in the country, and the pleasures of court are more attractive. Katherine is called to court after a chance meeting with King Charles II's brother, James the Duke of York, is filled with instant attraction. But it is quite some time before James acts upon his attraction, but the relationship quickly becomes intense and passionate. With James being Catholic in Protestant England, it is doubtful if he will ever attain the throne, but his affair with Protestant Katherine crosses all religious lines. When James is banished shortly after the birth of their first daughter, Katherine worries that she will be excluded from society, but she quickly discovers that being the mistress of royalty, even banished royalty, has it benefits. When Charles II dies and James becomes King James II, Katherine hopes that all can continue as before. But religious and political differences threaten to pull not only Katherine and James apart but also England. Katherine must decide if her love for James or her love for England must come first.
Susan Holloway Scott has written some fabulous books exploring the women of King Charles II's reign and "The Countess and the King" continues this. With wonderful dialogue, intriguing characters, and a interesting plot, this novel brings to life one of England's most fascinating and tumultous times. For first time readers or long time fans of Susan Holloway Scott, "The Countess and the King" is a must read for anyone who enjoys historical entertainment.
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.