Struck with the Dart of Love

Book One of the Je Anne Boleyn Series

In a love letter to Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII wrote: “It is absolutely necessary for me to obtain this answer, having been for above a whole year stricken with the dart of love, and not yet sure whether I shall fail of finding a place in your heart and affection…”, but did Anne ever feel that way about the King?

Tradition tells us that Henry pursued Anne for his mistress and that she resisted, scheming to get the crown and bewitching him with her unattainable allure. Nothing could be further from the truth.

One cold, misty grey day while hunting, Henry and Anne come face to face. It is an encounter that changes everything as Anne, too, is struck by the dart of love. He is powerful and graceful, elegant and witty, and in the King, she finds a passionate consort. But he is married – and the path to their union is fraught with hazard. Only the greatest of commitments will allow them to persevere until they might hope to be together.

The first novel from Sandra Vasoli’s Je Anne Boleyn series is a compelling memoir, narrated in a richly detailed, authentic voice, which depicts one of the most exceptional women in the history of England: Anne Boleyn. It is at once romantic, eloquent, and insightful. In Book One of this two-part series, the reader will come to know Anne as an intimate friend.

“Sandra Vasoli takes up the familiar story of King Henry VIII’s stormy relationship with Anne Boleyn, the woman who would become his second wife and for whose sake Henry would break with the Catholic Church in pursuit of a new marriage and a male heir for the kingdom.

Each of the two volumes in the series can be read independently, and each tells the story of a period in Anne’s life; in Struck with the Dart of Love, a brilliant, charismatic Henry meets Anne for the first time. As the two begin to fall in love and Anne begins to rise at Court, Vasoli dramatizes the rivalries and power-jockeying between all parties, especially the enmity between Anne and Cardinal Wolsey.

The second volume, Truth Endures, gives readers the story of Anne’s short and troubled rule, from its heady beginning with her promise of a male heir to the growing disaffection between her and Henry.

Vasoli’s prose is solid and often lovely, and her characterization of Anne in particular is refreshingly complex and sympathetic. This is fine Tudor-era fiction, well recommended.”

The Historical Novel Society

I will admit it to be true.

November 1525

We galloped full out across the rutted, frozen November fields, foam flying from the horses’ mouths and clods of deep-chilled earth from their hooves. Thundering headlong behind the bellowing hounds I glanced up and became utterly transfixed watching him lead the field. The supple strength of his commanding figure: the ease with which he controlled his huge bay gelding – his image held me captive!  I was completely absorbed in the scene played out before me. Too late did I realize I had committed a most flagrant breach of hunt formality. Protocol did not permit me to ride to the head of the field, yet there I found myself, forging towards the front like a novice. And worse – that my mare, unchecked, had run right up on his hunter’s hind end, precipitating an angry backlash from its left rear hoof which narrowly missed my own mount’s head.

Scrambling to a desperate halt, I swiftly became all too aware of where I was, and of what had just happened. With a forcible drag on the reins, he pulled his steaming horse up, and whirled about in annoyance to find us standing there, my horse and me heaving with exertion. I, for my part, wishing I were anywhere else in the kingdom.

We stood together silently, enshrouded in the swirling, cold grey mist, streams of white vapour blowing from the horses’ nostrils.  Expressionless, he observed me for a very long moment.  Then, though I may well have imagined it, just the very corners of his mouth crinkled upwards, nearly imperceptibly. My breath caught in my throat and I am certain my heart ceased beating.

God’s blood!  What came over me in that moment?

I had scarcely a chance to recover, much less mumble an apology. Yet the intensity of his gaze never wavered. Only at long last did he nod slightly.

“Greetings, Mademoiselle Boleyn.”

Abruptly then, the King reined his horse about, spurred him to a gallop, and followed the master huntsman into the woods.

Love letter from Henry VIII: