Saturday, February 22, 2020

Wife After Wife by Olivia Hayfield

I've always been fascinated by the saga of Henry VIII and his six wives, so it was a no brainer when I saw this novel. It's Henry VIII and his wives set in modern times. How would it all play out in our modern society?

Olivia Hayfield delivers an absolute Dynasty-drenched saga which begins in the 1980's and takes us up to 2018. Harry Rose is a young twenty-two year old man married to Katie, and expecting his first child. It's 1985, and he is working to take the reins of the family business Rose Corp, begun by his father. He's stunningly handsome, charismatic, and grieving the loss, in a short span of time, of his brother Arthur, his mother, and his father. More sadness is on the way when their first child is stillborn. 

From 1985 the story moves forward, as Harry begins his reign as Rose Corp's CEO, and welcomes his daughter Maria with Katie. Of course Harry, with his intense good looks, is irresistible to the women who cross his path. He loves Katie, but just can't help himself. Katie, meanwhile, is becoming increasingly depressed over losing more pregnancies, and turns towards her faith to cope. 

Oh, the parade of women through Harry's life! Merry, his long-time mistress and sister of Ana Lyebon, who becomes his second wife after years of waiting to divorce Katie. Merry plays a big part in Harry's life.

 Ana is a very interesting character. She kept away from Harry for a long time, just not interested in him, and was also engaged to another man. But Harry's determination to have her wore her down, and they become the power couple of London society. She's beautiful, brilliant, talented, and stands up to Harry. She calls him out. 

What I thoroughly enjoyed about this retelling of Henry VIII and his wives was knowing the history of what really happened way back when. We didn't guillotine wives in the 1990's; what would happen to Ana, and Caitlyn, Harry's fifth wife? How would the story change--would they survive this time around?

And Harry: what would become of him, as he bounces from relationship to relationship, all the while becoming more of a force as CEO of Rose Corp. His empire is growing and expanding every year, taking advantage of new technology and the public's appetite for more and more entertainment. In this life, is Harry doomed as Henry VIII was with ill health, mental issues, and a raging temper? Do his relationships with his children improve this time around?

You'll have to read it to find out. 

The author added a list of characters to the book, which helped so much keeping track of who was who in this life and in the Tudor life. There are tons of cultural references (even Princess Diana shows up a few times) and of course references to Henry VIII's world pop up every once in awhile. Ana's visit to the Tower of London for a business photo shoot is really interesting...

Yes, the author does change a few things, and tinkers with the modern retelling of a saga that has fascinated historians and lovers of everything Tudor for years. But that's okay. It's interesting to read an updated version of all of that mess; the sorrow, the machinations, the lost lives. I loved my dip back into 1980's & 90's London, and I simply couldn't put this one down. I found myself reading every chance I had--I guess Henry's still got it!

Rating: 5/6 for a full-on family saga that spans the 1980's, 90's, and the early 21st century. A retelling of the Tudor soap opera with a modern spin. A chance at redemption for Henry (Harry Rose) and a thrilling update to his wives-they are strong, and they don't take any crap from Harry even while they each love him fiercely. 

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio. I'm happy to say Olivia Hayfield is writing a sequel, which will focus on Eliza (Queen Elizabeth)! I'll be devouring that, too.  

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