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By His Majesty's Grace    by Jennifer Blake order for
By His Majesty's Grace
by Jennifer Blake
Order:  USA  Can
Mira, 2011 (2011)
* * *   Reviewed by Elizabeth Crowley

The family curse, known as The Three Graces of Graydon, is believed to result in the death of any man who attempts to marry one of three sisters from Graydon Hall without love. Isabel Milton hoped the curse would save her from marriage. Rand Braesford, however, was undaunted. Isabel is surprised to find that Rand is not the heartless monster she had imagined him to be. But she has little time to make further observations of her future husband before he is charged with a horrific crime.

A marriage to Rand of Braesford was only arranged after Isabel's stepbrother beat her into submission. Isabel and her sisters hoped the infamous family curse would make Rand think twice about marrying her. Isabel's arrival at Braesford Hall was full of dread and the secret hope that the curse would rescue her from the unwanted marriage. But after Rand tenderly cares for an injury caused by her brother's brutality, Isabel sees a side of him that unexpectedly touches her heart. Unfortunately, Rand and Isabel have little time to get acquainted at Braesford after Rand is arrested for the murder of a newborn child under his roof.

Isabel and Rand are whisked off to London to answer to King Henry VII, who is the father of the missing child. The mother, Frenchwoman Juliette d'Amboise, was the King's mistress. The King sent her to Braesford Hall in order to avoid upsetting his pregnant Queen, who Henry hoped would soon provide him with a male heir. Having endured a long exile in Brittany, Rand, although illegitimate, was rewarded with his father's estate after siding with the new Tudor king during the war with Edward IV. Although Henry and Rand shared a warm friendship, even the King admits that the evidence against Rand is incriminating.

After Juliet gave birth, the midwife claims that Rand disappeared with the child and the newborn's cries were heard no more. The midwife also recalls smelling human flesh burning on leaving Braesford Hall. Rand is adamant that the King's mistress and her child left Braesford Hall alive, but neither child nor mother can be found. When more damaging evidence surfaces against Rand, along with a rumor that the disappearances are tied to a plot against the crown, not even Rand's close friendship with the King can help him. When he is imprisoned in the Tower of London, only Isabel can save the husband she so fervently prayed to never marry.

By His Majesty's Grace is a historical that will delight readers who enjoy Tudor fiction. I especially applaud the author's decision to include Margaret Beaufort in the novel. Margaret was a powerful woman who was known to have considerable influence on her son. It is not surprising that Jennifer Blake decided to have Beaufort front and center when the King's reign was thought to be in jeopardy. This is a highly recommended novel for lovers of historical fiction and for anyone who enjoys a well-written historical romance.

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