Review: Royal Pains: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Brutes and Bad Seeds by Leslie Carroll

by Leslie Carroll

Publication Date: March 1, 2011
NAL Trade


The author of Notorious Royal Marriages presents some of history's boldest, baddest, and bawdiest royals.

The bad seeds on the family trees of the most powerful royal houses of Europe often became the most rotten of apples: über-violent autocrats Vlad the Impaler and Ivan the Terrible literally reigned in blood. Lettice Knollys strove to mimic the appearance of her cousin Elizabeth I and even stole her man. And Pauline Bonaparte scandalized her brother Napoleon by having a golden goblet fashioned in the shape of her breast.

Chock-full of shocking scenes, titillating tales, and wildly wicked nobles, Royal Pains is a rollicking compendium of the most infamous, capricious, and insatiable bluebloods of Europe. 


In her third non-fiction book on the aristocracy, Leslie Carroll examines the scandalous lives of some of history’s most notorious royal baddies.

The book kicks off with a legendary royal pain in the arse, King John of England, the youngest son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. And Leslie’s modus operandi of educating her readers with a mix of wit and snarky commentary is immediately evident as she compares King John’s fear of assassination to that of Dick Cheney's, soliciting a laugh out loud moment for this reader!

Some of the bad sees covered in Royal Pains are infamous for their sexual indiscretions, while others are of the much darker and violent variety. Examples of the former include Lettice Knollys, cousin to Queen Elizabeth I, who dared to steal the Virgin Queen’s favorite Robert Dudley and Pauline Bonaparte, sister to Napoleon, whose equal opportunity loving drove her conquering brother to distraction.

The chapters on the latter category are ones you will want to avoid before bedtime (trust me on this): Vlad the Impaler, whose penchant for devising clever means of torture and delighting in the use will make your skin crawl; Ivan the Terrible, said to be born with two teeth and whose reign of terror began at the tender age of 12; Elizabeth Bathory, the blood countess who killed hundreds of noble girls and women to imbibe their blood as a way to preserve her youth.

Other chapters include the two sons of Eleanor of Aquitaine: Richard, Duke of Glouchester (King Richard III) and George, Duke of Clarence; Prince Henry Frederick, brother to King George III; Archduke Rudolf, last crown prince of the Hapsburg dynasty; Prince Albert Victor, grandson of Queen Victoria; Princess Margaret, sister to the currect Queen Elizabeth II.

What I really enjoyed the most was that Carroll doesn't only cover their bad deeds but speaks to their accomplishments as well, so it's not just one sided. Informative and humorous, Leslie Carroll excels at entertaining readers with tales of these royal terrors! You will not want to miss it!

For more information please visit Leslie Carroll's WEBSITE.

FTC:  I received this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.



  1. I would so love to read one of her books.

    Stupid book budget!

  2. This sounds soooo interesting. It's going on my wishlist, thanks for the intro!

  3. I really want to read sounds so delicious! Great review, always. =O)

  4. This is on top of my Wishlist!

  5. I have her first two books in this series and look forward to having this one too.


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