Of course I read Anya Seton. I loved all her books, but a particular favorite will always be THE MISTLETOE AND THE SWORD. My friend Jenny found it on a trip to England and loaned it to me. This was the book that introduced me to Boudica, Druids and Stonehenge. The novel is set in Britain circa A.D. 60. Quintus Tullius is a standard bearer with the Ninth Roman Legion, who have come to Britain as part of the empire’s efforts to pacify the rebellious tribes. But he is haunted by his quest for the bones of his grandfather, who died seventeen years before in “the place of the golden tree and the stony circle.” Quintus ends up falling in love with Regan, the beautiful foster daughter of Boudica. I loved this book so much that I never gave it back to Jenny! The book wasn't available in the States so when I went to London I bought a copy at Foyles to give to her.
It was also my friend Jenny who introduced me to T.H. Whites THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING, starting my obsession with the Arthurian legend that continues to this day. Well actually it had started with the movie version of the musical CAMELOT, but this was the first Arthurian novel I had ever read. Lancelot in White's imagination was not the hot French guy that you normally see in depictions of the legend, he was actually quite ugly but Guinevere loved him anyway. Marion Zimmer Bradley's THE MISTS OF AVALON, and Rosalind Miles Guinevere and Tristan and Isolde trilogy are books that are on my keeper shelf.
I can't forget the late great Eleanor Hibbert who wrote as Philippa Carr, Victoria Holt and Jean Plaidy. I was tempted to include MY ENEMY THE QUEEN which is about the rivalry between Elizabeth I and her cousin Lettice Knollys (why hasn't this ever been made into a TV movie? Sienna Miller would be awesome as Lettice) but Philippa Carr's THE LION TRIUMPHANT, the second in her Daughters of England series is one of my favorites as well. Picture it: Elizabethan England, a beautiful fiery-tempered heroine called Cat. meets the arrogant, lusty Captain Jake Penlyon. It is hate at first sight, Cat is already in love with her childhood friend Carey but they are forbidden to marry. Jake is beyond determined to marry her and blackmails her into agreeing to a betrothal. Of course she is kidnapped by a band of Spanish pirates. Cat is certain she has seen the last of Jake Pennlyon, but she is not one to give up. Not ever!!
Elizabeth Kerri Mahon is a professional actress and amateur history geek. Her blog Scandalous Women (scandalouswoman.blogspot.com) was named one of the 50 Top History Blogs by Zen College Life. A native New Yorker, she still calls Manhattan home. Her book Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of History's Most Notorious Women was released March 1.