A salacious title but not a naughty read....if you know your world history you will appreciate this book more, but if you don't it is still a good book. A king's mistress led a perilous life. One day she had great power and authority and some mistresses were even the power behind the throne. Just as quickly, she could be sent from court with literally nothing. Genny
ReadingMonster reviewed Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge on
Helpful Score: 4
Honestly, I found this book to be rather boring. It seemed to rehash many of the same royals' tales from chapter to chapter. I ended up skimming through the last half of the book just looking for new or interesting insights. The topic itself had a lot of potential to be fascinating, but the writing style of this author just didn't hold my attention.
kenhenry reviewed Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge on
Helpful Score: 3
It's an interesting subject, sex. Typically, it leads to interesting media: sizzling scenes in novels, tantalizing romance in movies and TV, and even straight-up porn. This pair of books has none of that.
For all the explicitness of their titles, the Sex with... books have no explicit content. As it turns out, real sex that happened between real people throughout history has been really boring. Everything is couched in the too-subtle metaphors of the time. The books could easily have been spiced up with a few excerpts from actual letters passed between lovers, but even this is absent. Unless one wants to double check each quote by flipping back to the appendix, the whole book seems like hearsay, and dull hearsay at that. ("Did you hear about Queen Victoria's lover?" "No! What happened?" "They exchanged long glances over dinner, and sometimes held hands in the garden!" "Gasp! What scandal!")
Overall, the point of these books seems not to be sex, or even kings and queens, but women. (Kings were dumb! Women were awesome! Behold, these women who had sex with royalty, be they queens or mistresses! Are they not keen?) That is all well and good, except for the teasing little passages where the author lets slip that, oops, this king or that king did not like women. Instead of doing as promised on the back of the book (going into exhausting detail about the lives and motivations of the people who had sex with kings), the author merely gives the names of male lovers and moves on to the next fascinating woman on her list. One supposes that she expects the interested reader to do their own damn research.
The strangest part of the issue mentioned above is that the male lovers of kings crop up more often in Sex with the Queen than in Sex with Kings, usually to illustrate why the queen had to seek a lover. This fact only adds to the impression that the books are poorly organized, an impression first given because the books do not progress chronologically, but by something vaguely resembling a system of keywords. Money, childbirth, love, death, and secrecy all get their own chapters, which means the same names come up again and again, not because royalty have a tendency to reuse names, but because the same people get their life story told multiple times. As a tactic to increase page count, it is impressive. If the goal was to increase reader interest, it falls flat.
If you enjoy reading about history and how women were totally awesome in it, these books are for you. If you want any kind of education, Wikipedia would be just as informative, if not moreso. And if you want a book worth the stigma you would get from reading it in public, I would recommend anything else.
Fascinating historical look at the struggle to become the king's mistress and the power held by a mistress as opposed to the queen. Covers multiple monarchies and how mistresses came in and out of power throughout.
Sure, there's a lot of names, but you don't have to remember all of them. The stories are what make this book a great read. It's a book you can sit down and pick up again without having to worry about where you left off. I found it to be fun and interesting although my son was embarrassed when I took a book in public with the word "sex" in the title.
Lynne S. reviewed Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge on
Helpful Score: 1
Fascinated by the topic, I was eager to read this book. Unfortunately, I would like to rewrite it! I appreciate that it is well researched, but the set up of the book was confusing and it was difficult to keep any of the mistresses straight. I think it would have been better to work in a chronological order so at least one could follow things historically. It is still worth reading, but better if you know your history.
This book focuses on a handful of mistresses and speaks about each one of them throughout their lives. Rather than tell you a lady's entire story from start to finish, the author introduces you to all of the ladies in the first chapter, talks about their looks in another, how they had children in yet another, their rivalries, their husbands and their deaths all in separate chapters. Each woman story is told by topic, so if you can't keep stories, straight, well, flip back some pages!
It's really sad what men and women will do for a chest full of coins. This book tells their stories.
I bought this at Barnes & Noble in Alexandria, VA on a business trip, and I'm nearly finished after reading off and on for about 10 days. It's frankly one of the better books I've read in awhile!
This book was supposed to be about the historical role the mistress played in the structure and balance of the monarchy. Be it for beauty, politics, power, greed, or even love, the mistress played an important role whether moral or not. This book was disappointing to say the least. This book is not organized well. To read it is confusing and without an organized flow. It was very disjointed and skipped around way too much. The characters begin to blend together and it is hard for the reader to place the event being read about into a time line with the right historical figures. The character stories should have been organized into mini-stories or into specific topics, or at least by a time table. An interesting insight to the role of mistress. I already have another of Eleanor Herman's books and I am not sure that I will read it through like this one if it is as haphazardly put together like this one.