Review: The Countess and the King by Susan Holloway Scott

by Susan Holloway Scott

Publication Date: September 7, 2010
NAL Trade

SYNOPSIS: Katherine Sedley lived by her own rules and loved who she pleased- until she became the infamous mistress of King James II...

London, 1675: Born to wealth and privilege, Katherine is introduced to the decadent court of King Charles II, and quickly becomes a favorite from the palace to the bawdy playhouses. She gleefully snubs respectable marriage to become the Duke of York's mistress.

But Katherine's life of carefree pleasure ends when Charles II dies, and her lover becomes King James II. Suddenly she is cast into a tangle of political intrigue, religious dissent, and ever-shifting alliances, where a wrong step can mean treason, exile, or death at the executioner's block. As the risks rise, Katherine is forced to make the most perilous of choices: to remain loyal to the king, or to England. 

In my historical fiction reading experience there are a handful of authors that you just know automatically that you’re going to love whatever they put out and each new book becomes the new favorite….well, Susan Holloway Scott is one of them for me!

In The Countess and the King, Kate Sedley is not your typical heroine…and I LOVE that! She’s not beautiful and a little too skinny, but what she does possess is a sense and humor, and a quick, sharp mind and an ever sharper (and quicker) tongue. I fell in love with her immediately just by reading the prologue page and was her champion throughout the book. I laughed with her, cried with her and raved against the injustices she was made to endure and felt victorious when she conquered. I think out of all the heroines I have read about that Kate is the one I could most see myself being buddies with. Like her I was an only child, mostly raised by one parent and prefer the company of men to women and use humor to deflect our shortcomings.

Kate’s relationship with her father was particularly fascinating to me. Charles Sedley was a favorite at the court of King Charles II as a poet and playwright and at that court is where Kate got most of her “education”. Treated more as a friend than a daughter, Kate’s father would have her stay out all night with him at either Whitehall or the gambling and playhouses. Not the typical upbringing of a noble lady. But it’s Kate’s uniqueness that attracts the attentions of James, Duke of York (future King James II). He might not be as clever as she, but she falls for him nonetheless and I very much enjoyed reading about their relationship, especially after he becomes King and her position becomes perilous.

Another treat for me was that we get to spend some time with Nell Gwynn (LOVE her) as she and Kate become good friends, as well as, Charles II and Louise de Keroualle (his French Mistress). I can imagine that Susan had a ball with writing some of those scenes!!!

Susan’s knowledge of the politics of the day are unquestionable, her writing is impeccable, witty and has a certain je ne sais quoi about it that I just can’t put a name to, but would know her style immediately.

The Countess and the King has taken the #1 favorite read of the year spot for me and I highly recommend it to all of you!

If you'd like to have your chance to read this book, plus Susan's other 4 please enter to win the SUSAN HOLLOWAY SCOTT GIVEAWAY EXTRAVAGANZA!!!!!

Susan will also be stopping by Passages to the Past on September 13th from 6:00 - 7:00pm EST for an Author Chat!  We'll be talking a little Countess, a little of her other books and if we run out of topics (doubtful) we also have Project Runway or baseball to fall back on!  I really hope to see you there - it's going to be a blast!

For more information, please visit Susan Holloway Scott's WEBSITE.

FTC DISCLOSURE:  I was sent this book for review from the publisher.



  1. Great review! I love that that the book focuses on Katherine's relationships with family and friends - not just her position as a royal mistress. I appreciate when good historical fiction treats women as interesting, well-rounded characters in their own right.


  2. I'm so with you re: knowing that some authors will always write a winning book, and Ms Scott is one of those writers for me, too! I am dying to read this one!

  3. Wow, your number one this year? Now I HAVE to get my hands on this one.

  4. Her books are always a hit - the way she writes is just so darn entertaining! Katherine had so many interesting experiences and she came out of it all relatively unscathed. I'm with you - the scenes where all of her other leading ladies were in the same room was just too cool. Great review!

  5. I loved this one too Amy I knew I would love Susan. I have all of her other ones except the one on Sarah Churchill. I love her covers they are always so beautiful.

  6. TOTALLY agree with you about Susan's books being those that you know you will just LOVE. She is at the TOP of my list, and I am counting down until Tuesday when I can get this new one. I'm sure I'll read it in a matter of hours! HIGHLY recommend her to any Historical Fiction lover! :-)

  7. So glad I read your review...looks like one I have to get :)

  8. I can not wait to get my hands on this one. You can always depend on Susan to tell a fantastic story.

  9. Great review, and what a lovely cover! Kate Sedley sounds like an awesome heroine.
    I'm adding this to my must read since youre saying its your number one read for the year :)

  10. Wow... I have to get one book at the least by this author!
    Great review!
    I hope you have a great author chat!

  11. Awww....thank you so much, Amy! Glad that Katherine's story lived up to your anticipation. :)

  12. I love Susan Holloway Scott's books. This one sounds like it may be the best yet. Your best of the year? Wow! Can't wait to read it!

  13. Court intrigue always seems to weave such a tangled and dangerous web. One must have had to be either very brave or very foolish to tempt fate by wading in tose waters.


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