Will the real Elizabeth I please stand up?
Behind Closed Doors is the sequel to Caught in the Act. It is the story of Merrie and Jacks daughter Corrie. Like it's predecessor, Caught in the Act is a wonderful read, although there were a couple of things that made it not quite as good.
In Behind Closed Doors we are presented with another delightful heroine, who has grown up to be much like her mother, at least in personality. Her father, Jack, seems to have grown into an overprotective father who is trying to protect the light of his eyes from all males that were like him in his younger days. So, he's not a happy camper when a command from Elizabeth I arrives demanding his daughter become one of her maids of honor. There's not too much he can do but allow his lovely daughter to become part of the licentious court that was Elizabeth I.
It is here that I arrived at my first problem - the portrait painted of Elizabeth I. She was a secondary character in Caught in the Act, but she was not yet on the throne and she is portrayed as a rather nice person. In this book, she is anything but. She is filled with jealousy, she is demanding, and she has hissy-fits of gigantic proportions. I have read quite a bit about Elizabeth I, both fictional and non-fiction. What I've read presents so many different images of her that I often wonder what she was really like. Sometimes she is portrayed has a highly intelligent, loyal person and sometimes she is portrayed as a crafty, dominating, obsessive villain. In this book she is the villain, and I suspect that while she probably had many insecurities, she wasn't quite the monster that she was in this story.
Anyway, honest, loyal, trusting Corrie is soon Elizabeth's pet. Elizabeth is very possessive of Corrie, to the point that she warns anyone (mostly males) off if they even sneeze in Corrie's direction. However, Corrie is never aware of any of Elizabeth's maneuvering. She is steadfast in her adoration of the Queen, sort of like Horton the elephant. "I meant what I said and I said what I meant...an elephant's faithful 100%."
Enter Rugar, our hero with thighs as big as tree trunks. You know ladies, if I ever saw a man who had thighs as big as a tree trunk I might take off running in the other direction. Of course it could be a sapling, but I doubt it. Anyway, Rugar is big and strong and sexy and golden and just made to make young innocent girls drool, which is what Corrie does. However, Rugar's got an axe to grind. You see when he was just a wee seedling, his father was humiliated by Elizabeth and her court. Rugar has never overcome his hatred of the English and Elizabeth and he has come to wreak revenge on all of them. His plan is to win every game there is, make all the men in court look ridiculous and make all the women want him, and seduce all of Elizabeth's ladies...starting with the stunning Corrie.
This book is similar in its layout to Caught in the Act. Our couple rather quickly fall in love, are separated, and get back together. While I loved both Rugar and Corrie, I did grow a tad bit irritated by one too many kidnappings. Just one would have been fine, thank you very much. But that was just a minor bump in the road.
Also present in this story was a strong secondary romance between Corrie's cousin Anne and Rugar’s friend, another tree but bigger, Baron Torgne Sigurd. These two are different in so many ways. Anne is a widow who is very aggressive, and she's got an itch that she wants some man to scratch. She's very up front about her sexuality and she's pretty salty in her language. She and innocent Corrie have quite a fun friendship. Torgne on the other hand is a proper stick in the mud male who has no use for tarts (not the kind you bake.) The secondary romance is highly combustible and almost steals the show.
Behind Closed Doors like Caught in the Act, is filled with Tudor intrigue, an interesting portrayal of Elizabeth I, and two delightful couples. Even though there was one too many kidnappings and I wasn't too fond of the mean queen, I highly recommend this book and you should try to find both of these rare stories for your collection.
Time/Place: Elizabeth Tudor's England