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Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics

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In royal courts bristling with testosterone—swashbuckling generals, polished courtiers, and virile cardinals—how did repressed regal ladies find happiness? Anne Boleyn flirted with courtiers; Catherine Howard slept with one. Henry VIII had both of them beheaded. Catherine the Great had her idiot husband murdered and ruled the Russian empire with a long list of sexy young fav In royal courts bristling with testosterone—swashbuckling generals, polished courtiers, and virile cardinals—how did repressed regal ladies find happiness? Anne Boleyn flirted with courtiers; Catherine Howard slept with one. Henry VIII had both of them beheaded. Catherine the Great had her idiot husband murdered and ruled the Russian empire with a long list of sexy young favorites. Marie Antoinette fell in love with the handsome Swedish count Axel Fersen, who tried valiantly to rescue her from the guillotine. Princess Diana gave up her palace bodyguard to enjoy countless love affairs, which tragically led to her early death. In this impeccably researched, scandalously readable follow-up to her New York Times bestseller Sex with Kings, Eleanor Herman reveals the truth about what has historically gone on behind the closed door of the queen's boudoir.


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In royal courts bristling with testosterone—swashbuckling generals, polished courtiers, and virile cardinals—how did repressed regal ladies find happiness? Anne Boleyn flirted with courtiers; Catherine Howard slept with one. Henry VIII had both of them beheaded. Catherine the Great had her idiot husband murdered and ruled the Russian empire with a long list of sexy young fav In royal courts bristling with testosterone—swashbuckling generals, polished courtiers, and virile cardinals—how did repressed regal ladies find happiness? Anne Boleyn flirted with courtiers; Catherine Howard slept with one. Henry VIII had both of them beheaded. Catherine the Great had her idiot husband murdered and ruled the Russian empire with a long list of sexy young favorites. Marie Antoinette fell in love with the handsome Swedish count Axel Fersen, who tried valiantly to rescue her from the guillotine. Princess Diana gave up her palace bodyguard to enjoy countless love affairs, which tragically led to her early death. In this impeccably researched, scandalously readable follow-up to her New York Times bestseller Sex with Kings, Eleanor Herman reveals the truth about what has historically gone on behind the closed door of the queen's boudoir.

30 review for Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    I hemmed and hawed over Eleanor Herman's "Sex with Kings", mainly because I really couldn't say much about historical accuracy without doing a ton of research. Or so I thought. Simply googling one of the queens featured in "Sex with the Queen" proved my suspicions of Herman's shoddy research and fact-bending correct. Then I looked at her bibliography, a detail I forgot in my last review, and... well. The two stars here are, again, for Herman's nice prose and good selection. I definitely want to w I hemmed and hawed over Eleanor Herman's "Sex with Kings", mainly because I really couldn't say much about historical accuracy without doing a ton of research. Or so I thought. Simply googling one of the queens featured in "Sex with the Queen" proved my suspicions of Herman's shoddy research and fact-bending correct. Then I looked at her bibliography, a detail I forgot in my last review, and... well. The two stars here are, again, for Herman's nice prose and good selection. I definitely want to write down the names of the some of the more obscure women featured and research them further. Because I sure as hell don't trust Herman's word. I already knew that Herman works around facts to get the juiciest story possible. She certainly did that in "Sex with Kings", making the much maligned Athenais de Montespan look far worse than she actually was. So I wasn't too surprised when I saw Anne Boleyn featured here, though Herman at least had the decency to mention that the queen was innocent. She did go on to give a portrayal of some vicious cold-hearted flirt who was mean to the man who "moved heaven and earth for her". Um, are we talking about the same Henry VIII here? He also kind of wanted any woman who could give him a son. Anne was simply smart enough (and lucky enough) to be in the right place at the right time, with all the right moves. He probably would have dumped Catherine of Aragon for a foreign princess if Anne hadn't shown up, but oh, Eleanor Herman doesn't miss a chance to dump on not so cute and cuddly women. (I'm not even going to touch what she did with Princess Diana. Again.) I raised an eyebrow at Herman's portrayal of Anne's social circle as a group of gay men, including her brother. She basically vomited up everything Retha Warnicke has said about Anne Boleyn. Warnicke has, of course, been criticized by nearly every Tudor scholar worth his or her salt and in particular Anne's definitive biographer, the later Eric Ives, who was, of course, barely cited here. Anne Boleyn's brother was in fact quite a womanizer, but WHATEVER HERMAN. She also chose to somehow state that Marie Antoinette and Count Axel von Fersen had a physical affair though there's nothing to support that??? I mean, it could have happened--but the only thing we know of is an emotionally intimate attachment between the pair. And Marie was hardly repulsed by her husband, as they were good friends. Also, Herman makes this great leap of assuming some random documents were love letters between Marie and Fersen and... it's all so slipshod. The son Fersen apparently sired on Marie was actually noted to resemble the Bourbons, and I think Fraser promptly discounted any possibility of Fersen being the father due to dates not lining up. Amusingly enough, Flora Fraser, Antonia's daughter, is noted in Herman's bibliography. Antonia, THE Marie Antoinette biographer, is not. Then Herman goes on to completely massacre the marriage of Nicholas and Alexandra Romanov, which was actually one of the happiest in royal history. I actually kind of laughed to read about Alexandra dominating Nicholas, when in fact they had a very Victorian marriage--husband in charge, wife in a supporting role. The idea that she had an affair with Rasputin has no basis beyond rumor and is actively offensive to her memory. The above mentioned issues were my main problems. But then she got all these small details wrong: mentioning that Eleanor of Aquitaine (who Herman touts as her ancestress) had one daughter by her first husband when in fact she had two, for instance. I mean, it doesn't take much to correct mistakes like that. No effort beyond looking for interesting women. No effort, a lot of judgment, and a TON of misogyny. Whatever, Eleanor Herman. Whatever.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    My new hero is Marguerite-Louise of France, Grand Duchess of Tuscany. The Duchess found herself made to Cosimo de Medici in 1661. She didn't like him; it's easy to understand way. He was that Cosimo de Medici after all. They both had affairs. After the death of her father-in-law, Marguerite demanded to be allowed back to France where she could have fun. She finally was, and then put into a convent. She went out and partied anyway. The king got a new prioress who said no, no. Marguerite said yeah My new hero is Marguerite-Louise of France, Grand Duchess of Tuscany. The Duchess found herself made to Cosimo de Medici in 1661. She didn't like him; it's easy to understand way. He was that Cosimo de Medici after all. They both had affairs. After the death of her father-in-law, Marguerite demanded to be allowed back to France where she could have fun. She finally was, and then put into a convent. She went out and partied anyway. The king got a new prioress who said no, no. Marguerite said yeah, right, burned down the convent and chased the priorness around the blaze, incidentially while wielding an axe and a gun to get her point across. Herman's book will give you few other women like Marguerite, though some women were quite smart. Apparently one Queen manipulated her husband simply by pulling those long white gloves off her arms. Some of the tales are tragic, in particularly the story of Caroline Matlida of Denmark, whose prison you can actually visit. All in all, an enjoyable, funny read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ana Mardoll

    Sex with the Queen / 978-0-061-75156-1 "Sex with the Queen" is an absolutely delightful romp through the sexual affairs and extramarital conduct of European queens and princesses. Author Eleanor Herman is clearly skilled and starts with a strong, clear look at life as a European princess and with the understanding that such a life was hardly a rose garden for most of the women involved. After carefully providing the reader with a close and deeply fascinating look at daily royal life throughout Eu Sex with the Queen / 978-0-061-75156-1 "Sex with the Queen" is an absolutely delightful romp through the sexual affairs and extramarital conduct of European queens and princesses. Author Eleanor Herman is clearly skilled and starts with a strong, clear look at life as a European princess and with the understanding that such a life was hardly a rose garden for most of the women involved. After carefully providing the reader with a close and deeply fascinating look at daily royal life throughout Europe, she then works her way through the centuries with each chapter, bringing us delightful tales of the women who dared to find comfort and sex outside of marriage. What I love most about "Sex with the Queen" is how wonderfully well-written the book is. The material is scholarly and I greatly appreciate the fact that the author has tried to present as much fact and as little fiction as possible. Unlike other historical works that rely more heavily on titillation and lack of context (like the fun but very gossipy "A Treasury of Royal Scandals"), "Sex with the Queen" presents context and clarification for all the material presented herein. The result is a surprisingly scholarly work that is still written in a deeply conversational tone - easy to follow and a delight to read. So much of the information presented here will almost certainly be new and interesting to the casual reader. The obvious heavy hitters are here, such as Catherine the Great and Marie Antoinette, but many of the stories here are of relatively obscure or otherwise unknown princesses and queens, and it's amazing to see their stories come to life on the page. The prose is clear and precise (as are the translated love letters!), and it's very easy to sink into these stories despite the rather complicated political machinations and family trees that necessarily have to be explained in order to fully tell the tale. The only criticism I can level at "Sex with the Queen" is that very occasionally Herman succumbs to the temptation to write a touch of "purple prose" about how truly lovely it must have been between a queen and her lover. These pieces seem a little out of place among the scholarly tone and a bit embarrassingly gushy, but these passages are limited to no more than a few lines, and are quickly passed over back to the scholarly meat of the text. I truly enjoyed this book, and I think that anyone with an interest in the history of royal families will be delighted with this book. ~ Ana Mardoll

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    "Sex with the Queen" by Eleanor Herman reminded me a lot of "Notorious Royal Marriages" by Leslie Carroll, a book I read last year and also loved. It's all about various queens throughout history and their adulterous affairs, going in-depth as to backgrounds and explanations of why a royal woman might feel compelled to take a lover. This book's style is sort of "gossipy", but I didn't mind that. It's not a total "Seventeen Magazine" gossip column that gushes and seems entirely made up of unfound "Sex with the Queen" by Eleanor Herman reminded me a lot of "Notorious Royal Marriages" by Leslie Carroll, a book I read last year and also loved. It's all about various queens throughout history and their adulterous affairs, going in-depth as to backgrounds and explanations of why a royal woman might feel compelled to take a lover. This book's style is sort of "gossipy", but I didn't mind that. It's not a total "Seventeen Magazine" gossip column that gushes and seems entirely made up of unfounded rumors. It's just not an overly-serious scholarly work. It seemed very well-written to me and I appreciated that the author took the reader entertainment factor and balanced it rather well with the "this is still a book about history and should have sources cited and be based in fact and have the people learn something". I enjoyed learning more about Sophia Dorothea of Celle and other royal women that I haven't heard much about thus far from this book. The one thing that knocked it down a star for me was that it seemed like Eleanor Herman let her personal biases about certain personages show through a bit more than maybe they should have. It's true that she has to explain the story and the scandal within a 20-or-so page limit per queen, but I got the distinct feeling that she doesn't have a very favorable impression of Marie Antoinette, Alexandra Romanov, or Princess Diana. Their entries were more vitriolic than some of the others. I am aware that historians are humans too, and I've read biographies specifically about Marie Antoinette and Alexandra Romanov that perhaps leaned more toward giving these controversial figures the benefit of the doubt in many cases. But as I read their entries here, at certain points I was kind of like, "... Wow, I'm sure this person wasn't THAT bad...?" I wished Herman had just given the facts about the stories, as this history is super entertaining as it is, and let the readers decide for themselves whether they are going to sympathize with these various queens or not, without being led by Herman's opinions. Overall though, I enjoyed this immensely. I am reading Herman's "Sex with Kings" as well and hope I like it just as much. I'd also definitely recommend Leslie Carroll's book I mentioned above as well as "Scandals of Classic Hollywood" by Anne Helen Petersen, if you're into this genre of "pretty reliable history that also attempts to really showboat".

  5. 4 out of 5

    Aoi

    "Sex with the Queen" is meant to be racy "airing of dirty laundry" read. Unfortunately the author seems to have foregone with an editor- the script lacks any sort of coherency, jumping from one era to another; one country to another. I had expected a witty anecdotal book- it starts humorously enough, recounting the story about a King who had to be carried all the way to his bedchamber to consummate his marriage. I enjoyed reading about some of the misadventures of the lesser known kings & queens "Sex with the Queen" is meant to be racy "airing of dirty laundry" read. Unfortunately the author seems to have foregone with an editor- the script lacks any sort of coherency, jumping from one era to another; one country to another. I had expected a witty anecdotal book- it starts humorously enough, recounting the story about a King who had to be carried all the way to his bedchamber to consummate his marriage. I enjoyed reading about some of the misadventures of the lesser known kings & queens. However, when we go on to the exploits of Eleanor of Aquitaine with her uncle (!!); and Marie Antoinette and Count Axel von Fersen, I knew we were wandering into WTF territory. One would think that an author should know what is accepted fact, and what is written as slander back in the Middle Ages. The stories about Princess Diana left me with a bad taste in my mouth. ugh. If I wanted this kind of thing, there are plenty of society tabloids.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Meri

    This book provides an interesting hook to tell 900 years of European aristocratic history. Adultery with queens was far more sensational than the routine indiscretions of kings. It came in several different forms, from powerful ruling queens who openly took several lovers at a time to consorts who were beheaded for one (falsified) indiscretion. Over all, a worthy peek into a side of history that you don't often learn in high school. Eleanor Herman has a knack for catchy and imaginative depiction This book provides an interesting hook to tell 900 years of European aristocratic history. Adultery with queens was far more sensational than the routine indiscretions of kings. It came in several different forms, from powerful ruling queens who openly took several lovers at a time to consorts who were beheaded for one (falsified) indiscretion. Over all, a worthy peek into a side of history that you don't often learn in high school. Eleanor Herman has a knack for catchy and imaginative depictions, though I was a little disappointed that all of the affairs covered were heterosexual.

  7. 5 out of 5

    veronica

    Most of this book is definitely written much better in comparison with its mate, "Sex With Kings." However, the entire thing read like it had foregone an editor -- from chapter lengths to paragraphs to (seriously) incomplete sentences, at times several on one page, this book was wrought with technical issues, or, most likely, just bad writing. I am sorry to say that. Bad writing can make or break a non-fiction book, and in this case, it completely broke it. I couldn't even tell what I was readin Most of this book is definitely written much better in comparison with its mate, "Sex With Kings." However, the entire thing read like it had foregone an editor -- from chapter lengths to paragraphs to (seriously) incomplete sentences, at times several on one page, this book was wrought with technical issues, or, most likely, just bad writing. I am sorry to say that. Bad writing can make or break a non-fiction book, and in this case, it completely broke it. I couldn't even tell what I was reading -- was it a historical non-fiction book, a poorly written romance novel, or a smutty tabloid? Phrases akin to "she then writhed above him, biting his nipples" or "we can just imagine her pining after her the lover whose hands she could still feel upon her" or "we can just see their two bodies intertwined" do not cut it in a non-fiction book. You were not there, you cannot assume and it is not the kind of book genre that lets you "imagine." I want to KNOW, not IMAGINE when I read non-fiction (and this was definitely NOT a non-fiction novel a-la Capote or others, so I can't even defend it that way). This made me really mad, as personal "imaginings" happened A LOT. There was so much assumption and bad trash novel writing that it undermined all the hard historical research that clearly must have gone into this book. The author came off as a voyeuristic young girl fabricating details of private encounters, instead of a historian. Yes, I learned a lot about the lives of European queens and their lovers, I learned a lot about life at court, and about marriage laws, but in the end, I wanted it to kind of stop there. I can do lots of imagining on my own, I don't need to read two-thirds of a page and realize it is all made up smut from the author's point of view. The book also ends with a terrible taste in my mouth, with a very slanderous chapter about Princess Diana, which makes her out to be a (really) awful woman. Regardless if this is true or not, much of the chapter had NOTHING to do with the topic of the book, which is SEX WITH QUEENS. Maybe her death is still recent enough in collective memory for me to be okay with slandering someone and airing out the dirty laundry of a woman whose family is still all alive. I know part of this book is aimed at exactly that, airing out dirty royal laundry, so maybe someone else can come up with another version that is about the reality of royal affairs and not smutty details.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mandy Moody

    This is actually a DNF for me :( The format drove be crazy - everything seemed to be a "summary" - I kept waiting for the actual book to begin, but it never did. There is, of course, a scarcity of information when it comes to the affairs of queens. Unlike Kings, Queens were expected to be virtuous, so their affairs were well hidden. Still, a good number of these accounts seem to be supposition of the time - an unreliable source in my opinion! Perhaps without using these stories Herman didn't have This is actually a DNF for me :( The format drove be crazy - everything seemed to be a "summary" - I kept waiting for the actual book to begin, but it never did. There is, of course, a scarcity of information when it comes to the affairs of queens. Unlike Kings, Queens were expected to be virtuous, so their affairs were well hidden. Still, a good number of these accounts seem to be supposition of the time - an unreliable source in my opinion! Perhaps without using these stories Herman didn't have enough material for her book? Sadly, even using un-validated tales of adultery didn't make this book juicy. I felt like I was being told facts, not a story. Who knew sex could be so boring? I also hated the way the author jumped from one person to the next without regard for time period or country...she never seemed to finish telling one Queens story before beginning the next. I only read to chapter 4 and had to quit. Sex with Kings was so easy to read, I was hoping this would be the same. It wasn't.

  9. 5 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    Very similar to the author’s other book- Sex with Kings, except this one is full of punishment and repudiation. History proves that women cannot get way with the sins of the male. Women were married “for their uterus”not for their hearts. Political gains were more important than happiness, so the majority of these young ladies suffered cruelly at the hands of their husbands or father-in-laws. I was especially interested in the last chapter that delved into Princess Diana’s infidelities. I basica Very similar to the author’s other book- Sex with Kings, except this one is full of punishment and repudiation. History proves that women cannot get way with the sins of the male. Women were married “for their uterus”not for their hearts. Political gains were more important than happiness, so the majority of these young ladies suffered cruelly at the hands of their husbands or father-in-laws. I was especially interested in the last chapter that delved into Princess Diana’s infidelities. I basically skipped over the section that discussed Empress Alexandra because I truly do not believe she had a sexual affair with Rasputin. I do believe there was an emotional attachment there, but she was mesmerized by his healing powers and lost in the helplessness she felt over Alexi’s illness. All in all, I was more than satisfied with this book. It didn’t focus on one country or one period of time. I learned about a couple of new women who were dealt a bad hand of fate.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    The title sounds quite tawdry, but the book itself is far from a Harlequin Romance. It takes a look at what life was like for a queen, from Medieval Times through Queen Victoria’s reign. Most marriages were for political gain, where a daughter was bartered off to a husband that was disinterested, cruel, insane or homosexual. And a queen consort couldn’t necessarily distract herself from a loveless marriage through the opulence of court life - - castles were often cold, dark and rodent infested a The title sounds quite tawdry, but the book itself is far from a Harlequin Romance. It takes a look at what life was like for a queen, from Medieval Times through Queen Victoria’s reign. Most marriages were for political gain, where a daughter was bartered off to a husband that was disinterested, cruel, insane or homosexual. And a queen consort couldn’t necessarily distract herself from a loveless marriage through the opulence of court life - - castles were often cold, dark and rodent infested and queens, once the marriage pact was sealed, would be sequestered in a convent, prison or worse. Some queens took lovers or undertook political intrigue as a response to their harrowing positions. What’s a girl to do?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    A for effort, but F for format. Very difficult to follow who these people were when the story is so disjointed. Lost interest around page 60 because we were going over the same people over and over, for different reasons. Good details and juicy tidbits. One error found (page 51): there was no EMPRESS Sophie of Russia. She was the Regent (guardian of Ivan), half brother of Peter (the Great). Ivan died, Peter took over and Sophie was sent to a monastery after trying to overthrow him with the Boyars A for effort, but F for format. Very difficult to follow who these people were when the story is so disjointed. Lost interest around page 60 because we were going over the same people over and over, for different reasons. Good details and juicy tidbits. One error found (page 51): there was no EMPRESS Sophie of Russia. She was the Regent (guardian of Ivan), half brother of Peter (the Great). Ivan died, Peter took over and Sophie was sent to a monastery after trying to overthrow him with the Boyars.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    Silly, salacious and about as meaningful as People Magazine, this book is compulsively readable. It's well-written, engaging and pruriently interesting. It appeals to all of the same trash receptors in one's brain that fuel the National Enquirer, Star and the other weekly mags featuring vapid celebrities. The big difference is that the vapid celebrities in the book are royal and dead. A fun read nonetheless. Silly, salacious and about as meaningful as People Magazine, this book is compulsively readable. It's well-written, engaging and pruriently interesting. It appeals to all of the same trash receptors in one's brain that fuel the National Enquirer, Star and the other weekly mags featuring vapid celebrities. The big difference is that the vapid celebrities in the book are royal and dead. A fun read nonetheless.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ramona

    The research in this book is so slipshod, let alone the complaints about how ableist and generally gross the author's tabloid style recounting of the "facts" is. The research in this book is so slipshod, let alone the complaints about how ableist and generally gross the author's tabloid style recounting of the "facts" is.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Natasa

    “Sex with the Queen” is a delightful book.  Author Eleanor Herman is skilled and starts with a powerful look at life as a European princess and understanding that such a life was hardly a rose garden for most of the women involved. After carefully providing the reader with a close and deeply fascinating look at daily royal life throughout Europe, she then works her way through the centuries with each chapter, bringing us delightful tales of the women who dared to find comfort and sex outside of “Sex with the Queen” is a delightful book.  Author Eleanor Herman is skilled and starts with a powerful look at life as a European princess and understanding that such a life was hardly a rose garden for most of the women involved. After carefully providing the reader with a close and deeply fascinating look at daily royal life throughout Europe, she then works her way through the centuries with each chapter, bringing us delightful tales of the women who dared to find comfort and sex outside of marriage.

  15. 5 out of 5

    PurplyCookie

    In royal courts bristling with testosterone--swashbuckling generals, polished courtiers, and virile cardinals--how did repressed regal ladies find happiness? - Anne Boleyn flirted with courtiers; Catherine Howard slept with one. Henry VIII had both of them beheaded. - Catherine the Great had her idiot husband murdered and ruled the Russian empire with a long list of sexy young favorites. - Marie Antoinette fell in love with the handsome Swedish count Axel Fersen, who tried valiantly to rescue he In royal courts bristling with testosterone--swashbuckling generals, polished courtiers, and virile cardinals--how did repressed regal ladies find happiness? - Anne Boleyn flirted with courtiers; Catherine Howard slept with one. Henry VIII had both of them beheaded. - Catherine the Great had her idiot husband murdered and ruled the Russian empire with a long list of sexy young favorites. - Marie Antoinette fell in love with the handsome Swedish count Axel Fersen, who tried valiantly to rescue her from the guillotine. - Princess Diana gave up her palace bodyguard to enjoy countless love affairs, which tragically led to her early death. Most European queens were raised to be chaste, demure and obedient, in the image of the Virgin Mary. They generally married young, knew nothing of sex or pregnancy, and were expected to spawn lots of kids. But some of these queens weren't content to just sit and embroider -- they ran straight into the arms of hot courtiers. Some of these queens had mad or impotent husbands, and some were married to gay nobles -- one nobleman was overjoyed when his wife had an illegitimate child, which saved him from having to sleep with her. One or two (like Elizabeth I) never wed at all, leaving rumors of lovers and illegitimate children. They slept with warriors, peasants, priests, and other nobles, sometimes with tragic results -- and sometimes not. The title is naughty but the book is well written, well researched, and filled with a lot of things I had never read before about the royals. Herman's writing style strikes a good balance between slightly wry conversation and scholarly insights, with lots of historical details that add a lot of dimension to these illicit romances. It's a bit like trading gossip with a good pal, who has all the dirty laundry from the royal bedroom. Very fun, and it often offers insight into the lives of the pampered, lonely royals. More of Purplycookie’s Reviews @: http://www.goodreads.com/purplycookie Book Details: Title Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics Author Eleanor Herman Reviewed By Purplycookie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

    OK. I figured out what the problem is. She spins a good yarn, but she relies on very few sources (one chapter is almost entirely "Ibid" in the notes). She only footnotes direct quotations (which she usually gets from other biographies, not from a primary source). She clearly has her favorites (loves Catherine the Great, even though she let herself get fat and old; hates Marie Antoinette and Princess Diana--she gets a whole chapter of venom). She moves effortlessly between documented events and r OK. I figured out what the problem is. She spins a good yarn, but she relies on very few sources (one chapter is almost entirely "Ibid" in the notes). She only footnotes direct quotations (which she usually gets from other biographies, not from a primary source). She clearly has her favorites (loves Catherine the Great, even though she let herself get fat and old; hates Marie Antoinette and Princess Diana--she gets a whole chapter of venom). She moves effortlessly between documented events and recreating scenes. A dumb part: at the beginning, she reminds us that even though they all had beautiful jewels and dresses, that castles were cold and beds were uncomfortable, so we shouldn't envy them TOO much. Again with the lack of context. Sometimes queens are driven into exile, and she'd have us believe it was entirely about their lovers and scandals. What about RUNNING THE COUNTRY? BAD POLICIES? You'd almost never know what any of these queens did. They just had sex and talked about the country, but no work was really done. She mentions some of the accomplishments of Catherine the Great, but mostly as a result of choosing Potemkin to conquer and rule. There is no distinction between this book and the last one. This is all the leftover notes she couldn't find room for in the other book, plus sometimes recycling anecdotes. This author photo is the same, but the blurb adds more info: she's named for Eleanor of Aquitaine, who is her 28 times removed grandmother, and she's related to most of the royal houses of Europe. She's been drinking the Kool-Aid for sure.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne

    My lil' sis gave me this one. It's basically about various queens love affairs. The chapter on Marie Antoinette and Fersen, which was sufficiently romantic for my sensibilities, having been raised on BeruBara. I have learned though, that while it may have been good to be the King (and even that's really debatable: The last King I read about was pretty much tortured into insanity by his tutors in their attempts to make him a 'real man') it was not good to be the Queen. Married off in your early te My lil' sis gave me this one. It's basically about various queens love affairs. The chapter on Marie Antoinette and Fersen, which was sufficiently romantic for my sensibilities, having been raised on BeruBara. I have learned though, that while it may have been good to be the King (and even that's really debatable: The last King I read about was pretty much tortured into insanity by his tutors in their attempts to make him a 'real man') it was not good to be the Queen. Married off in your early teens to a man who was often cruel, insane or at best neglectful, without any friends, the slave to the whims of your husband and a pawn to political factions? And if you did find love with a handsome courtier, you and he could be exiled, tortured or executed? No thank you.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Summer

    This was not without flaws. There were parts where I cringed or questioned the way Herman phrased particular things. You could tell that some of the information was heavily colored by Herman's opinions or interpretations. Despite these flaws I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It was much better structured than her previous book. I wish it had included more than European royalty but it did include a wider geographic base than the previous book as well. Also, in places it had me laughing out loud This was not without flaws. There were parts where I cringed or questioned the way Herman phrased particular things. You could tell that some of the information was heavily colored by Herman's opinions or interpretations. Despite these flaws I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It was much better structured than her previous book. I wish it had included more than European royalty but it did include a wider geographic base than the previous book as well. Also, in places it had me laughing out loud at some of the more ridiculous stories. If you want a lighter history book that would be a great summer read this would fit the bill.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    This book was fascinating. It was a very thorough look at monarchies all over the world in a very long time span and it was incredibly well researched. Although there were parts that were pure speculation it really gave an interesting account of what the lives of these women were like. Being essentially sold off to another country sight unseen and where half the time they didn't even speak the language, the political slavery they lived in was incredible. It defintiely dispels any fantasy I may h This book was fascinating. It was a very thorough look at monarchies all over the world in a very long time span and it was incredibly well researched. Although there were parts that were pure speculation it really gave an interesting account of what the lives of these women were like. Being essentially sold off to another country sight unseen and where half the time they didn't even speak the language, the political slavery they lived in was incredible. It defintiely dispels any fantasy I may have had in childhood about wanting to be a princess! Disney it's not.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Blacke

    While it certainly provided juicy bits of gossip fodder the basis for some of what the author presented as fact is sketchy at best. At times the format was a befuddled rush of names, titles and salacious details. However, about a third of the way into the book the author settled into more of a storytelling groove, otherwise I may not have finished it. Once I began treating the book more like a very outdated People Magazine as opposed to a seriously researched historical nonfiction I found it more While it certainly provided juicy bits of gossip fodder the basis for some of what the author presented as fact is sketchy at best. At times the format was a befuddled rush of names, titles and salacious details. However, about a third of the way into the book the author settled into more of a storytelling groove, otherwise I may not have finished it. Once I began treating the book more like a very outdated People Magazine as opposed to a seriously researched historical nonfiction I found it more enjoyable.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Interesting enough read, but as noted by some other reviewers, the historical evidence leaves something to be desired. Nothing frustrated me so much as reading wild fascinating stories in this book and then, upon trying to do further research, finding very little to support them. I would forgive this as the stories were still entertaining, but there was an undercurrent of ableism and homophobia that cropped up every so often that really jarred me out of the experience.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Meaghan

    A history of European queens and their lovers, this is a very worthy companion to Herman's other book, Sex with Kings, a history of European kings and their mistresses. It was engagingly written, well-researched and full of titillating details. Even people who normally don't go for history will enjoy this. I highly recommend! A history of European queens and their lovers, this is a very worthy companion to Herman's other book, Sex with Kings, a history of European kings and their mistresses. It was engagingly written, well-researched and full of titillating details. Even people who normally don't go for history will enjoy this. I highly recommend!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    After Th Other Boelyn Girl, I was craving some more historical raunch! This is non-fiction, and reminds me of my old AP Euro Hist teacher who delighted in telling Catholic school HS girls scandalous sex tales of renaissance clergy & royals.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah M

    If you are into gossip and supermarket tabloids why not learn something while getting your fix? Brimming with historic royal scandal and intrigue, it's hard to put down. From a feminist point of view it's also nice to know that even back in the day not all women took it lying down! If you are into gossip and supermarket tabloids why not learn something while getting your fix? Brimming with historic royal scandal and intrigue, it's hard to put down. From a feminist point of view it's also nice to know that even back in the day not all women took it lying down!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Really excellent writing and fascinating material. Herman did a great job of humanizing historical figures and making them compelling without inundating the reader with too many dusty facts.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Fascinating look into the lives of European princesses and queens forced into loveless marriages.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    Entertaining and with some stories I hadn't previously heard, however there was too many 'she needed a strong man to take her forcefully' type comments. Entertaining and with some stories I hadn't previously heard, however there was too many 'she needed a strong man to take her forcefully' type comments.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    Again like the previous one of hers about the king a very good read. I liked it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jessica T.

    Can't go wrong with sex and history... Can't go wrong with sex and history...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    This book was a quick and enjoyable read. I don't know whether the change in formatting was a help or a hindrance, setting each chapter across time periods and then covering a number of women in varying degrees (some going on for pages, others only a few paragraphs) which seemed a bit choppy, but worked in the chronological sense, so you weren't going backward and forward between them. I enjoyed reading about the women I already knew and learning more about those I didn't, Sophia Dorothea of Cel This book was a quick and enjoyable read. I don't know whether the change in formatting was a help or a hindrance, setting each chapter across time periods and then covering a number of women in varying degrees (some going on for pages, others only a few paragraphs) which seemed a bit choppy, but worked in the chronological sense, so you weren't going backward and forward between them. I enjoyed reading about the women I already knew and learning more about those I didn't, Sophia Dorothea of Celle was particularly fascinating. I think that the limits of information somewhat restricted this book in a way that it obviously wouldn't for Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge. Still, I love anything to do with royalty, so for a quick read, it was immensely engrossing. 4 stars.

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