Twenty-two days. If you are a fan of Reign you know exactly what I mean.

There may be only eight days until Christmas, but the gift that devoted watchers of the CW’s Reign are really waiting for—the return of the show after winter break—doesn’t arrive until the evening of January 8, 2016. “What can we do,” I hear a communal cry rising, “besides re-watching the existing episodes, to ease our pain during in the countdown?”

How about reading about the Valois and the Queen of Scots? There’s enough intrigue, forbidden love, and danger among that cast of characters to fill not only hours of TV but shelves of books. Ask Santa to deliver a little 16th century Reign-related love when he climbs in his sleigh a week from today by bringing you one or more of these . . .

FIVE BOOKS DESTINED TO DIVERT REIGN FANS while the show is on hiatus (and I want you all to remember, I scooped Buzzfeed Books on this one):

 1.  Médicis Daughter by Sophie Perinot (hey, it is my blog so I get to lead with my book, but that’s not naughty because the critiques agree the book is oh so nice): This story of Valois family dysfunction, political treachery, forbidden love and bloodiest massacre in French history has been called, “A riveting page-turner skillfully blending illicit liaisons and political chicanery.” (~Kirkus Reviews)

More importantly for Reign fans, Amazon reviews suggest it “would be a great gift for any … fan of the show Reign.”

Médicis Daughter draws readers deep into the world of the Valois in the post-Francis period. With young King Charles IX on the throne and Catherine de Médicis pulling the strings and plotting the plots (some things never change), you KNOW there will be plenty of dark and dirty. Viewed through the eyes of the youngest Valois Princess, Marguerite, the court comes alive: “Atmospherically, the novel swept me off my feet. Perinot’s depiction of the French court was beautifully drawn and I was wholly captivated by both the political and social interaction that unfolded among its players.” (~Flashlight Commentary). When the hearts break and the blood flows you will be right there, unable to look away. “I couldn’t put down. And when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it.” (~The Readers Hollow)

Catherine for the holidays

2.  The Serpent and the Moon by HRH Princess Michael of Kent: Instead of heading forward, travel backward to the pre-Reign Valois world with this fascinating volume of popular history. This book relates the story of the battle between Catherine de Médicis and Diane de Poitier for the heart of, and influence over King Henri II of France.

There are so many fascinating but at the same time creepy details here for Reign fans to savor. From the moment 14-year-old Catherine arrives in France to discover her husband already in the thrall of a woman who was present at his birth (I told you it was creepy), through the humiliating and disgusting remedies she tried to combat a decade of childlessness, up to Catherine’s vengeful taking of Château Chenonceau from Diane after Henri’s death (and the evidence of the black arts that Diane found when she took possession of the Chateau she was given in exchange) this book will illuminate Catherine to her fans and foes alike.

Need a tempting detail? How about this: Catherine summoned an Italian carpenter to the Place of Saint-Germain where her bedroom was immediately above that of her husband’s mistress. She had two holes made in the floor of her room and then watched Diane and Henri in bed, sobbing later to friends that “her husband had ‘never used her so well.’”

3.  The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner: In this novel “the most dramatic events of Catherine’s adult life includ[ing] the 1572 Bartholomew’s Day massacre of Protestant Huguenots, [are] vividly and chillingly depicted” (~Historical Novel.info). Publishers Weekly called Gortner’s novel, “”A remarkably thoughtful interpretation of an unapologetically ruthless queen,” and I must say I quite agree. Catherine devotees among the Reign fandom will eat this one up.

 4.  Blood Between Queens by Barbara Kyle (part of her Thornleigh Saga): Like a thriller element with your history? Have you been enjoying the Mary vs. Elizabeth of England plotline in Reign? Then try this book. My friend Nancy Bilyeau (whose own series about Tudor-era England—beginning with The Crown–I utterly adore) called Kyle’s book, “a fast-paced and exciting historical novel that plunges readers into the deadly rivalry of Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots just as the beautiful three-time-married monarch had fled Scotland for her cousin’s kingdom.” If Nancy says, it “captures the high-stakes politics of the Tudor court, depicting its most famous personages with both accuracy and imagination,” I guarantee you it does.

5.  The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary, Queen of Scots by Carolyn Meyer (from the Young Royals series). I am closing out my list with this YA novel recommended by a big-time Reign fan of my acquaintance (she’s also a history devotee who is always stumping her fellow fans with her “royal pop quizzes”). Currently the Amazon #1 Best Seller in Teen & Young Adult Renaissance Historical fiction, this novel follows the recently widowed Mary home to Scotland where she hopes that a new husband will not only help her to secure  her own throne but will allow her to take the crown of England from her cousin, Elizabeth. Too bad, as the back cover reveals, “the love and security she longs for elude her . . . [and she] finds herself embroiled in a murder scandal that could cost her the crown.” Or rather too bad for Mary but NOT for Reign fans because if that doesn’t sound like an episode of the show I don’t know what does!

So there you have it, a bit of Christmas magic for all the Reign fans out there who need something both naughty and nice to get them through until the next new episode. Spread the word . . . spread the Reign-style joy. And Happy Holidays!

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