Forsaking All Other

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 26 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

I am a fan of historical fiction set in the Tudor/Elizabethan period and I've read many books from that era. I keep reading them, though often I am disappointed. I was not disappointed with Forsaking All Others. Bess is one of the most engaging characters I've recently encountered. I was hooked on the first page and pretty much read straight through the book. My only regret is the lack of a sequel. A terrific combination of history, romance and family issues. Please, Catherine Meyrick., give us a sequel!
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I really enjoyed reading this book ,  I found it a convincingly crafted and we'll researched historical fiction. The characters were very interesting and the plot keeps you engaged
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Sorry, I did not get time to read this one before it was archived. I am in college and could not fit in my usual reading.
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Historical fiction is one of my all time favourite genres, so didn't hesitate at the chance to read 'Forsaking All Other'.  To sum up this book in one word.... excellent.  I am not going to write what the story is about, as i prefer one to read it for themselves, but i do highly recommend.

My thanks to Netgalley and the Publishers for my copy.  This is my honest review.
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Forsaking All Other is the love story of Beth and Edmund. As was typical in the late 16th century court of Elizabeth I, rules must be followed. Ridiculous to us now, but deadly serious at the time. It's a dance around their feelings then a decision at last. It's well written and shows a good depection of day to day life for these characters. They are richly drawn and engaging. Overall a good read for fans of historical fiction. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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A classic will they won't they, with a sprinkling of heart break, cruelty and hope. This is a beautifully written historical novel, following the life of Bess and the people in her circle. A really interesting read, allowing you to step back in time and imagine how people used to live and how times have changed. 
A great read that leaves you turning pages right to the end!
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The romance is of the slow burn variety and a lot of scenes are day to day life as people of the time would have known it. I appreciate that awkward meanings of period items weren’t shoehorned into the narrative. Most things I can guess and if I didn’t know it, the Internet is great and I learned about suckets, subtleties, and wafers. I also investigated the dances that the household enjoyed as well as the clothes they wore. Another delight of the book are the many scenes of women without men, showing the sisterhood and bonds that strengthened them in a time when men held most of the cards.

Although the growing relationship between Edmund and Bess does progress in a stately fashion, once these two realize their feelings, there’s no doubt of it or their desire. They are, as a friend tells Bess, obviously two halves of one coin. It’s because of the earlier non-romantic view of marriage both Edmund and Bess hold to that when they finally believe they’ve found that rarity, it packs more of an emotional wallop for me.
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This book grabs you right away. The characters are well written. I would recommend this to others.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.
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Bess Stoughton is a widow and a lady in waiting to Lady Allingbourne. When she goes to her father's house when her stepmother delivers a baby, she finds out that he has picked out someone to marry her. He is a much older man who is her father's neighbor. He is disgusting with a tendency to like very young girls. She refuses to marry him and her father locks her in her room until she agrees. She runs away back to Lady Allingbourne's. While there she meets  Edmund Wyard who works for the Crown. He has just returned from the war and is looking to go back soon. His mother wants him to marry and settle down as he has inherited money and an estate from his deceased father. She, also wants to pick his wife for him. Edmund and Bess are attracted to each other but he is above her station and they think friendship is all they can have. There is a religious war going on and Catholics are the enemy. There is a Catholic in Lady Allingbourne's household. If they are not found, everyone is under suspicion and may be questioned and tortured. Will Edmund and Bess find a way to be together? What about Edmund's mother? I enjoyed reading about the history of that time. I liked Edmund, but hated his mother. I received this book from Net Galley and BooksGoSocial for a honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.
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The year is 1585, Queen Elizabeth I is on the English throne, and the clash between Papists and Protestants is a full-scale war. The religious war forms the background of Forsaking All Other and is an integral part of the novel. This is a powerful story steeped in the religious conflicts of the time both personally and because Edmund Wyard, the male lead, is a soldier determined to protect England from Papist plotting. Bess Stoughton finds herself torn between personal loyalties and those to her Queen in a way that illustrates the difficulties of the environment as little else could.

This novel is a romance between Bess and Edmund, one full of troubles and triumphs. It is also a work of historical fiction, illuminating the political and religious beliefs prevalent then. Bess sets out to find herself a better match by running away and disguising her true situation when her father decides to use her to regain a parcel of land sold to the neighbor generations before. She’d accepted his first choice of a husband, as every good daughter should, and been widowed after an unhappy marriage. Bess refuses to give in to a lecherous man old enough to be her grandfather who lusts after little girls and happily invited her younger half-sisters to come live with them once this farce of a marriage was complete.

She might have issues with her father for remarrying so quickly when her mother died and envy the happy home he made for his second family, but she would not allow her half-sisters to suffer abuse at her hand. This sends Bess on a desperate mission to find a suitable husband after begging her father for a year’s grace in the letter she left behind.

Not only does this premise work within the rules of the time, by skirting them, but for those unaware of women’s place, the author finds an innocent child in Bess’s step sister to ask the question of where the rules of fidelity and rights lie. Bess answers truthfully that a man is not held accountable but the woman bears all.

This is just one example of how the novel is ripe with position, power, and lineage, especially with how those only recently joined to the higher ranks exert their position forcefully with no consideration to others. Cruel spite and sheer selfishness rule while those with good hearts are easily led astray in their attempt to aid others. The novel is very rich in the history and makes it come alive as you see how people are treated and the costs of those treatments.

As to the love story, it winds throughout. We get to see the relationship develop from contempt to respect and finally care for each other. Bess sees through to the spirit and heart Edmund hides behind his gruff exterior, having neither the good looks or trust in women to make his ventures successful. He is reluctantly willing to concede to his mother’s assistance in finding a bride, but that concession comes to haunt him. His mother is a cruel, heartless woman holding herself blameless when his father sought comfort in a mistress and yet punishing her sons for their father’s choice.

This is far from a simple story, and there were moments that made me fearful or brought me to tears. Circumstances, both accidental and deliberate, do much to tear Bess and Edmund apart in ways heavily dependent on the events of that period. The yoke of history does not lie easy on their lives, nor is their love given the blessing of their friends and family. Ultimately, this is a romance and lives up to the promise of a happy ending. They must work hard to earn those final moments, though.

The historical notes at the end make for an interesting read as well. Not only do you learn more about the resources used, but also the difficult balance of writing a book true to the setting that still appeals to modern sensibilities. And for those concerned about the level of sensuality, while their love is strong, it is consummated behind closed doors and after they have exchanged vows.

I’ve tried to give a glimpse into the wealth of detail and complication in this story without any direct spoilers. I hope my enjoyment is clear as I felt drawn into this story where two less than perfect people find their other half and overcome mountains to secure a happily ever after. It’s well worth the time spent in Catherine Meyrick’s hands.

P.S. I received this title from BooksGoSocial through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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I couldn't put down this first novel by Catherine Meyrick. The characters were believable and I felt their joy and their pain. I love the attention to historical detail and even the author's historical notes at the end of the book. Looking forward to reading more from this author.
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Stunning historical romance set in Elizabethan England!

The romance is a simple set-up - Bess has to find a husband of her own choosing or be forced to wed the man her father has chosen; Edmund is also being pushed to get married, but he's hampered by his family's expectations.  Even knowing that these two will find their HEA by the end of the book doesn't detract from the exquisite path they take to get there.  

This story is breathtaking in its beauty, vividly describing the historical setting and packing in just enough political intrigue to make you feel like you're right there experiencing everything along with the characters.  This is the best kind of literary time-travel, and it left me with such a book hangover when I was done.  I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.
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Forsaking All Others by Catherine Meryrick.  BooksGoSocial, 2018.

I loved this book!  

The story takes place over two years in Elizabethan England, 1585-1587.  

Now that her husband has been dead two years, Bess Stoughton, a young widow, hopes to find someone to marry and have children.  Seeking a loving relationship this time, she manages to postpone her father’s arrangement to trade her to an elderly and unsavoury neighbour for a coveted piece of land.  

Although blessed with friends and sisters who love her, Bess travels alone in disguise, is persecuted as a suspected Catholic, and falls prey to a hateful, vindictive, controlling mother-in-law.  

This book is beautifully written, supported with well-developed characters and historical details that enhance the story.  I love to read stories with substance, where I am not only swept away by the characters and action, but I also learn something.  Meryick describes life in the Tudor era with authority; her historical notes are a bonus.  

Why aren’t all historical romances like this one?  This book is a keeper. I know I will reread it

Disclosure: I received a review copy of Forsaking All Others free via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This is the first title I've read from Catherine Meyrick, her writing style is very smooth, making this a very enjoyable read. Bess Stoughton, a widow, is being forced into a marriage she doesn't want when she chooses to take things into her own hands.  Although, this has aspects of a romance novel, it also delves into Bess learning who she is and what is important to her in a spouse.  The terror present around the fear of papists is also an intriguing subject that puts an interesting twist on the novel. Overall, a great quick read.
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A Woman's Lot!

A harrowing tale of love, duty and fear in the Elizabethan times of the 1580's. A time when fear of the Spanish and papists was rife in England, when wars were being fought to "protect both England and [the] Protestant faith."
More than that though this is the story of the widowed Bess Staunton fighting for the right to decide her own future, and not that of her father's devising. As a widow without a sinecure Bess is once more a slave to her father's wishes. For the time she has escaped him, serving as a waiting woman to Lady Allingbourne.
When Bess becomes a friend to Edmund Wyard, whose mother is a vile cold hearted wretch with very decided plans for her son's future, the telling of the tale becomes even more involved. Bess is drawn into a web of deceit and fear.
I was enthralled by Bess's story and raced across the pages as the intensity of her journey captured me.

A NetGalley ARC
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A quote:
“That means little with Edmund. When he remembers he can be quite charming, but he does not remember often.” (Loc. 1488, quote from ARC)
“Forsaking All Other” is a carefully crafted and convincingly well-researched historical romance novel, with two strong characters who slowly fall for each other.
I really like a story where the couple moves from initial hostility to friendship, mutual admiration and attraction, and that’s what happens with Edmund and Bess.  They are great characters: a taciturn and brave hero with and “unsightly face”, who is a very kind and considerate man, and a strong and intelligent heroine.
Catherine Meyrick tackles a wide range of issues – I especially liked the take on the social and legal aspects of women’s submission and arranged marriages - against the religious and political backdrop of English and European 16th century history.
I also appreciated the final “Historical Note” where the author writes about the story’s historical setting and personages and reveals her sources.
The writing style is rather descriptive, creating what seems to be an intended dispassionate tone even when dealing with emotions and feelings. I liked it, even though sometimes it felt a bit flat.
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Although it is set smack in the middle of Philippa Gregory territory (the 1550s), Meyrick's novel reads more like Jane Austen--pastoral, idyllic and country house-y (except for once or twice when it gets really bad, really fast). I read it with the knowledge that it would all come right in the end and (spoiler alert) it did. That is not to say that this was not a very pleasant read. It was very enjoyable. Grab a glass of wine, sit in front of a nice fire and enjoy being transported back to Elizabethan England. I was sorry when I finished reading and had to return to the 21st century. Thank you, Catherine Meyrick.
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