Mistress of the King by Rex Sumner. Book review

Mistress of the King by Rex Sumner, MyVoice Publishing 2016

Reviewed by Shona Kinsella

Susan Taylor as a child, wanted to be queen. When she meets the real queen, and becomes her companion, her life changes forever. At the age of sixteen, Susan is forced to move to the capital and there, catches the eye of the now-widowed king. Forced into being his mistress, Susan’s life is once-again changed by a brush with royalty.

There is a lot to like about this book. Susan is clever and witty, overall a very enjoyable character. The plot moves at a good pace and I really enjoyed all of the political maneuvering – especially the way that Susan deals with Lady Belvedere. However, there was one major flaw that really impacted on my enjoyment of the book.

As you may have guessed from the title, this book features a lot of sex. The way this was handled was very problematic for me. At the age of 16, Susan is brutally raped and within days, her father attempts to molest her. A very short time later, Susan is happily rolling in the hay with her sweetheart. This seems very unlikely to me – other than being forced to leave her home and move to the bog city, the rape has very little effect on Susan.

Throughout the rest of the book, Susan is used, pawed-at and taken without her consent. This character has very little agency in regards to her sexual treatment and that is very difficult to read – a fact compounded by how little Susan seems to care about how she is treated, other than the occasional flash of temper.

Otherwise, this book was well-written and enjoyable, I just wish the author had treated the sex with a gentler hand – or shown more realistic consequences of the constant abuse.