My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I was in the mood for a royal romance (gee, I wonder why?) and this was on sale. A Queen from the North is a contemporary romance with alternative history and a bit of fantasy. Sort of. I forget where I came across this book, but I was sucked in by the fantasy and alternate history angles and I was disappointed by both elements in this book.
In an England where the Wars of Roses haven't totally ended, the north--York--feels marginalized from the southern, more Lancastrian parts of England. (Which was repetitively mentioned throughout the book, but this bit of basic worldbuilding for this premise could've been expanded so much more!) Arthur, the Lancastrian Prince of Wales, (also: supposedly this Lancastrian line has been unbroken ever since Henry Tudor killed Richard III at Bosworth, but it's never explained whom or how exactly the line is unbroken. Because, like, Elizabeth I is mentioned and if she had kids or something, then maybe mention that somewhere? Did the Hanovers even happen in this alternate history? What about Victoria and Albert?). Anyway. So there's Arthur, the widowed Prince of Wales, who is nudged by his niece Princess George ("the court witch") to marry again. Arthur meets Lady Amelia Brockett, his friend's sister, daughter of a northern earl, university student in the sciences, and decides "sure, why not, she seems pretty and smart--I'll marry her!"
I think. The entire novel is told from Amelia's point of view and while there are ways to deepen a third person pov so a reader gets a better sense of other characters, this didn't do that. So I never felt I got to know Arthur all that well and his behavior seemed distant and snippy most of the time. Also, there were several instances where I wanted to smack Amelia upside the head ("I don't want to read the pre-nup! Nope! We're not in love and this is only a business merger of a marriage!" If it's an arranged marriage, then read the goddamned pre-nup, Amelia!
The main conflict between Arthur and Amelia consisted of them misunderstanding each other and then not talking through their shit like adults. I. Hate. This. Kind. Of. Conflict. Beyond the complications of royal life and Amelia's privacy being taken from her and her life being stripped away from her quickly and vaguely dark fantastical forebodings about the bloody Tower of London ravens--because if those ravens leave the Tower, the myth says, England will fall--like, that was the entire interpersonal conflict between these two.
Arranged marriage tropes are a big thing in historical romances, so I've read them a-plenty and they were done so much better.
George turned out to be a fascinating character, though I wish we'd gone more in depth into her witchcraft. Also, Amelia's best friend Priya was adorable. In fact, I found myself liking these two more than the two lead characters.
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