[Book Review] Sex with Kings by Eleanor Herman

Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and RevengeSex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge by Eleanor Herman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book is a hot mess. The chapters were subdivided as such:

1 Sex with the King
2 Beyond the Bed–The Art of Pleasing A King
3 Rivals for a King’s Love–The Mistress and the Queen
4 Cuckold to the King–The Mistress’s Husband
5 Unceasing Vigilance–The Price of Success
6 Loving Profitably–The Wages of Sin
7 Political Power Between the Sheets
8 Red Whores of Babylon–Public Opinion and the Mistress
9 The Fruits of Sin–Royal Bastards
10 Death of the King
11 The End of a Brilliant Career and Beyond
12 Monarchs, Mistresses, and Marriage

which served no purpose but to hide the fact that the author favored the stories of some mistresses over others. The chapters weren’t even linear chronology, making it hard to keep track of anything. Names were dropped everywhere, crossing centuries and continents.

It would have been better, comprehensively, to either write one chapter per king or mistress tackled in this book, with one chapter at the end for all the mistresses mentioned only once or twice throughout, written in  biography style; or,if insisting on the current table of contents arrangement, to break each chapter up into sections per king.

I doubted if I was truly reading non-fiction, if this was really written by an historian. Not because I found anything hard to believe, but because a lot of parts of this book were written like it came from a tabloid. The author wasn’t objective as well, favoring some over others, you could feel her gossipy tone for some mistresses made more stark with the change of tone to a lighter, more positive note for the most famous royal mistress currently alive.

Nonetheless, it was an interesting read and I did come out of this more knowledgeable than I was before I read it.

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