A Constant Heart
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In the court of Queen Elizabeth . . .
BEAUTY is a curse, FRIENDSHIP is bought and sold, and TRUE LOVE is the unpardonable sin.
Will Marget risk everything for the man who's captured her heart?
"The fine line walked by the members of Queen Elizabeths court is the subject of A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell. Beautiful, young, Marget has been trained in the ways of a courtier since childhood. But once she marries the Early of Lytham, she finds that she wasn't prepared for the tasks of earning his trust or gaining favor with the queen. She must disguise her naturally pale skin under a layer of paint and bleach her hair to a light red. As her friend explains to her, at court, the queen is the only woman whom men are allowed to love, and women must flatter her by imitating her pale skin and red hair.
"Readers are immediately drawn into this world where true love, even between husband and wife, is an unforgivable crime, where a courtiers leisure time is spent crafting ways to advance her husbands position, and where the quest for 'Beauty' can result in painful and disfiguring lead poisoning. The narrative alternates between Margets perspective and her husbands, providing readers a glimpse at the lives of both men and women of nobility. The idleness of life at court, which breeds rumors and gossip, causes many misunderstandings, but readers will root for these flawed characters and mourn with them when things go wrong. Mitchell is the author of five other novels, two of which were Christy Award finalists."
--Whitney Hallberg, ForeWord Magazine, March/April 2009
"The 1590s come to life as Marget, the daughter of a knight, is to be married to the Earl of Lytham. Lytham whose first marriage had been annulled, is a courtier in the court of Queen Elizabeth I, where beauty is a curse, friendship is bought and sold, and true love is the unpardonable sin. Marget is presented to the queen, who is jealous of Marget's beauty and ridicules her. Marget just wants to fit in, but is ignored by all the other countesses. Lady de Winter comes to her aid and teaches a maid how to paint Marget's face with white ceruse (lead paint) and wear orange hair like the others to imitate the queen. Lytham's first loyalty must be to the queen. He marries for the dowry, and at first doesn't trust Marget because she is beautiful like his first wife. There are many trials and misunderstandings, but in the end love wins out because of a constant heart."
--VJ, Libraries Alive
"In the last decade of the sixteenth century, the Earl of Lytham trusts no woman especially a beautiful aristocrat. His heart was burned to an ashy crisp by the betrayal of his first wife. He obtained an annulment that ended the sham called marriage. He will remarry only to gain favor with the Queen who prefers her lords married.
"Lytham's second wife Marget Barnardsen has been told she is a beauty, but to her chagrin, her husband loathes her because of her looks. He coldly informs his wife her only role is to assist him in gaining her Highness' support. Marget in turn wants him to return her love, but her efforts to warm his heart fail as Queen Elizabeth is irate at her; seemingly because of her looks that she tried to somewhat disguise. Now a desperate Marget fears the man she loves will annul their marriage as she only obtained the wrath of the Queen.
"This is a terrific Elizabethan romance with a deep message of 'to thine own self be true' as everyone is in God's image. The story line shines a deep light on the aristocracy's efforts to gain favor with the somewhat fickle but powerful aging ruler; some go as far as changing their essence as Marget does. Known for her exciting contemporary Christian Lit, Siri Mitchell goes historical Christian Lit showing she is a writer for all seasons."
--Harriet Klausner, Midwest Book Review, November 2008
"Christy Award winner Mitchell makes a successful historical debut, immersing readers in the rich historical detail of Queen Elizabeth's court. The message about being the best you God created shines through.
"SUMMARY: Still hurting from his former wife's betrayal, the last thing the Earl of Lytham wants is a beautiful wife. Never would Marget Barnardsen believe that her beauty would cause her husband to despise her. Desperate to warm her husband's cold and unfeeling heart, and to gain the queen's favor, Marget begins to paint herself to look like everyone else.
"When her efforts have dire consequences, she's confronted with the possibility of losing the man she loves and everything she's worked so hard to achieve."
--Chandra McNell, Romantic Times Book Reviews, October 2008
"In this historical romance centered on the court of Queen Elizabeth I, the queen demands that her courtiers love only her and that their wives slavishly follow her fashion lead. Among the courtiers is the Earl of Lytham, who hopes that his young bride Margret's wealth will allow him to earn the queen's favor.
"Since it's a romance, the story has hostility, awakening love, deception, misunderstanding, and near ruin--and in the end, reconciliation. It also has an interesting subplot focused on the beauty routines followed by Queen Elizabeth and the ladies of her cuort, and the ill effects of those routines on their health."
--Susan Olasky, World, October 4/11 2008