June Book Review: My Lady Jane

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My Lade Jane
By: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
Release Date: June 7 2016


*Beware: Spoilers ahead!*

Official Synopsis:

Edward is the King of England.  He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s
only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than
considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books
than in romance.  Unfortunately for Jane,
Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession.  And there’s something a little odd about her
intended… 

Gifford is a horse.
That is, he’s an Edlan
(eth-y-un, for the uninitiated).  Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut
steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay.  It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a
dangerous conspiracy.  With the fate of
the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of
their own.  But can they pull off their
plan before it’s off with their heads?


My Synopsis:

Edward is the king.  Up
until now, he’s liked being at the top of the food chain; now that he’s dying,
he wishes that he’d gotten to do normal sixteen-year-old boy things, like
making friends and getting his first kiss.
Instead, he has to worry about who should be next in line for the throne
once when he takes his last breath, which seems to be coming sooner rather than
later…

Jane doesn’t want to be queen.  She doesn’t want to rule anyone, and she most
certainly doesn’t want a husband; all
Jane wants is time to read.  But with her
cousin’s sickness, he’s decided that Jane will inherit his crown, or rather,
her son will.  Which means she needs a
husband, and Edward has the perfect guy in mind, even if he is a little strange…

Gifford never dreamed he’d be king.  Who would want a man who spends his days as a
horse to rule their country?  And what’s
he going to do with his new wife, who insists on arguing with him half the time
and blatantly ignoring him the other half?
Not to mention she’s a major distraction from his po…err, nighttime dalliances.  She’s trouble through and through, no matter
what the king says.

But things are not always as they seem.  Plans are being set into motion, and futures
are suddenly uncertain.  Edward, Jane,
and G must learn to rely on one another and on their friends if they’re going
to save the kingdom…and their own lives.
But can they pull off a plan of their own before it’s too late, or will
they end up on the chopping block?


My Thoughts:

I’m always interested in reinvisionings of historical
events, but when they’re done with as much spunk and comedy as My Lady Jane, it’s a guaranteed winner.

My Lady Jane tells
the story of Lady Jane Grey’s brief royal reign and her adventures following
her ‘beheading.’  Yeah, that’s where the major
revision comes in.  The religious
upheaval of the time has been turned into the Verities vs. the Edlans—the normal humans vs.
humans with the ability to shift into an animal—and the political intrigue is
much more interesting when it revolves around magic, in my opinion.

Other liberties have been taken in this tale, some as small
as name changes, such as Jane’s new husband, now named Gifford Dudley (but
please, call him G), and others much larger, including both Jane and her cousin
Edward VI’s survival.  Strict historians
will probably frown upon these changes to the timeline, but even they can’t
deny that these deviations make for a much more entertaining story.

The story is told from three POVs—Edward, Jane, and G—with
a separate author writing for each main character.  It speaks volumes about the authors’ skills
that each character’s voice is distinct, but the writing flows beautifully, and
I wouldn’t have believed there was more than one author if I hadn’t known
otherwise.

Edwards was, in my opinion, the most changed over the course
of the story.  He began as a dying king,
became a recovering fugitive who could change into a kestrel, and ended as a
young man who could control his Edlan,
who was brother to the new queen, and who had finally been kissed.  It was sad to see Edward’s pain as he
realized the depth of his court’s betrayal, but his escape from the castle led
him to the people who truly cared for and were loyal to him.  I liked the trust between Edward and Bess,
especially in contrast to Edward’s relationship with Mary.  Without Bess’ help, Edward would’ve been dead
a dozen times over, and it said something about Edward’s belief in Bess’
abilities—and about his changed opinion of women’s capabilities overall—that he
abdicated the crown in her favor.  The camaraderie
between Edward and Jane was sweet and fun, and I was glad that the cousins
continually looked after one another throughout the entire ordeal.

And then there was Gracie.
Gracie was as unexpected and intriguing for me as she was for
Edward.  Her background made for some
interesting conversations, just as it allowed her to help Edward in a number of
ways.  I liked that she helped Edward learn
to control his Edlan
abilities and was willing to risk herself to help him regain his kingdom.  The fact that her penchant for trousers both
baffled and fascinated Edward made me laugh, and the way she got his attention by
stealing the crown jewels was perfect.  I
was glad that she was Edward’s first kiss.

The other male POV was G, whose lack of control over his abilities
caused him to spend his daylight hours as a horse.  As unfortunate as this curse was, it did make
for some good laughs, and it was helpful often enough, although it was
unhelpful much more often.  I also had to
laugh that G lied about his love of poetry by making everyone believe he was a player.  This said something about the expectations of
men during that time period, but also provided a way for him and Jane to relate
to one another, even if Jane wasn’t let in on the secret until the very
end.  I enjoyed seeing G come into his
own and discovering the type of man he wanted to be, and although some things
would’ve gone easier if he’d been more open with his wife, he eventually
learned that a relationship should be based on trust and respect rather than
just an instinctual desire to protect those you care about.

And finally we had the titular character, Jane.  I related to Jane instantly.  Like me, Jane was far more interested in her
books than she was in the people in her life; more importantly, she understood
that it’s always a good idea to take an extra book or two in case you finish
the one you’re currently reading and that having bookshelves in your room is
more important than having extra wardrobes.
(Bookworms for the win!)  Some
people might roll their eyes at Jane’s dedication to her books, but her love
was fully justified as her knowledge helped the group work through a number of
problems.  It also made for a lot of
laughs, like how she was known for reading at all the balls or when she built a
wall of books in the carriage on the way to her honeymoon.  This
girl totally gets me.
 But reading
also gave Jane a love for adventure and a passion for doing what’s right, and I
really believe that without her books, Jane wouldn’t have been such an
open-minded, understanding individual.
She probably wouldn’t have been so accepting of G’s curse, and I don’t
think she would’ve been quite so excited regarding the discovery of her own Edlan nature.

Jane’s endearing qualities were even more noticeable in the
growing relationship between herself and G.
Although they were married pretty early in the book, the two didn’t
really care for one another, which set up the sort of hate-to-love relationship
that I’m so fond of.  And that
hate-to-love is exactly what we got!
Although Jane was fine with G being a horse all day, her logical
approach to breaking the curse made G angry, and G’s perceived nightly
dalliances were the main cause of friction for Jane.  But as the two began their married life, they
quickly began caring for, if not loving, each other.  Jane reading to Horse-G was precious, and G
bringing a book along to comfort Jane was too sweet.  It was obvious that the two were beginning to
truly develop feelings for one another, and Jane’s refusal to denounce her
husband—even though it meant her death alongside him—proved it.  Once Jane discovered that she could shift—into
a ferret!—there were even more cute moments between the pair; my favorite was
probably the round of G and Ferret-Jane charades as they tried to escape the
Tower.  Unsurprisingly, it was their
feelings for one another that broke their curses and allowed them to finally be
together with both of them as humans.

While I loved the twists on the characters, I also really
loved all the references to other historical fantasies.  The
Princess Bride, Monty Python, Tangled,
and I even think there was a Game of Thrones reference in there.  I probably missed more references than I
should have, but I laughed at every one that I saw.  I felt like the references actually added to
the story, and they felt as if they fit in pretty naturally.  I know some people complained about them, but
I enjoyed them, along with the breaks in the 4th wall, which upped
the Monty Python feel.  This writing style definitely strengthened
the historical comedy tone of the story, which really worked for me.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this book, but My Lady Jane was more than I could’ve
hoped for.  It wasn’t perfect—there were a
few scenes that probably could’ve been cut, which would’ve made the book move a
bit quicker and cut down on the page count—but overall, the book was a fun,
light-hearted twist on the tragic tale of Jane Grey.  If these ladies ever decide to spice up
another historical figure, the book will definitely be on my ‘To-Read’
list.  In the meantime, I need to reread The Princess Bride and imagine my Jane
and Buttercup BFF fanfic.


Stray Thoughts and Observations:

  • Edward’s obsession with getting his first kiss cracked me
    up.  Shouldn’t a king have more important
    things to worry about?
  • Jane the bookworm is totally me if I lived in 16th
    century England.
  • Pet was really a girl!
    A bit awkward, but she was definitely one of my favorite characters in
    both dog and human form.
  • Gran won my heart in, like, a dozen words.  Add to that the fact that she turns into a
    skunk, and she almost stole the show.
  • The ravens at the Tower were spies!
  • G and Edward were such awkward bros.
  • Jane and Edward had no luck getting kissed by their
    respective others.
  • Glad the Lady Janies aren’t the type to kill a dog.
  • Mary was literally
    an ass—ha!

Favorite Quotes: 

  • …a broken heart often led to a broken body.
  • She delighted in the smell of the ink, the rough feel of the
    paper between her fingers, the rustle of sweet pages, the shapes of the letters
    before her eyes.  And most of all, she
    loved the way that books could transport her from her otherwise mundane and stifling
    life and offer the experiences of a hundred other lives.  Through books she could see the world.
  • Why was he using so many words?  Why hadn’t he practiced this speech?  He’d barely ever said two words to her in a
    row, and now suddenly he was using all
    the words.
  • He shrugged.  “Okay,
    we’ll tell them thank you so much for the very kind offer of running the
    country, but no thank you.  I have no
    desire to honor my cousin, the king’s, wishes.
    Now where are my damn books?”
  • Who on earth could feel comfortable enough to sleep in a
    room with no books?

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