Book Drunkard

“I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.” L.M. Montgomery

Dark Aemilia: A Novel of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady by Sally O’Reilly, review AND Giveaway (5 copies)


The daughter of a Venetian musician, Aemilia Bassano came of age in Queen Elizabeth’s royal court. The Queen’s favorite, she develops a love of poetry and learning, maturing into a young woman known not only for her beauty but also her sharp mind and quick tongue. Aemilia becomes the mistress of Lord Hunsdon, but her position is precarious. Then she crosses paths with an impetuous playwright named William Shakespeare and begins an impassioned but ill-fated affair.

A decade later, the Queen is dead, and Aemilia Bassano is now Aemilia Lanyer, fallen from favor and married to a fool. Like the rest of London, she fears the plague. And when her young son Henry takes ill, Aemilia resolves to do anything to save him, even if it means seeking help from her estranged lover, Will—or worse, making a pact with the Devil himself.

In rich, vivid detail, Sally O’Reilly breathes life into England’s first female poet, a mysterious woman nearly forgotten by history. Full of passion and devilish schemes, Dark Aemilia is a tale worthy of the Bard.


Sally O’Reilly’s “Dark Aemilia” is a gripping tale of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady, Aemilia Bassano.  A woman ahead of her time, she has a love of poetry and learning and dreams of being published using her own name.  She has strong feelings about the roles of men and women – especially when it comes to The Taming of the Shrew and she has NO problems telling Shakespeare what she thinks of his play.  Needless to say, they didn’t become lovers straight away.

O’Reilly’s descriptions of Elizabethan England are vivid – from the theatres to the dirty streets – and the reader is taken on a tour from the rooms of Queen Elizabeth’s home to the dark parts of town where magic is secretly performed.  Character development is good, although at the end of the book, I felt like Aemilia is the only person I really knew.  Which is fine considering she’s the title character, but as William was her lover, I expected more from him.  I really could feel the passion between the two of them, though, and I wish there had been more scenes with them together.  What I really found myself drawn to was the dark magic aspect of the story.  I found it fascinating!

I really enjoyed the entire book.  Sally O’Reilly did a wonderful job blending Tudor language into her writing without making it cumbersome or awkward to read.  What a promising debut novel this is.  I’m already looking forward to reading her next.


I’m very pleased to announce that I have FIVE copies of Dark Aemilia to give away to readers of my blog!  Entering is easy – just comment on this post with your email address (So I can contact you if you win) and also give me a favourite line(s) from any Shakespeare sonnet.  (Google works if you don’t know any off hand..haha)  Contest is open to residents of Canada and the US and winners will be contacted by me on September 15th.  Good luck!



03_Sally O'Reilly

Sally O’Reilly has received numerous citations for her fiction, which has been shortlisted for the Ian St James Short Story Prize and the Cosmopolitan Short Story Award. A former Cosmopolitan New Journalist of the Year, her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Sunday Times, the Evening Standard, and the New Scientist. She teaches creative writing at the Open University and the University of Portsmouth in England. Dark Aemilia is her U.S. debut.

For information and news please visit Sally O’Reilly’s website and the Dark Aemilia Facebook Page.


Monday, August 18
Review at The Bookworm

Tuesday, August 19
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, August 20
Guest Post at Bibliophilia, Please

Thursday, August 21
Spotlight at Princess of Eboli

Monday, August 25
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Review & Giveaway at Curling Up By the Fire

Tuesday, August 26
Review & Giveaway at Poof Books

Thursday, August 28
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Sunday, August 31
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, September 1
Review at Book Drunkard
Giveaway at Carole’s Ramblings

Tuesday, September 2
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, September 3
Review & Giveaway at Bibliophilia, Please

Friday, September 5
Review at Awesome Book Assessment

Tuesday, September 9
Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, September 10
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, September 11
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, September 16
Review & Giveaway at Bookish

Wednesday, September 17
Review & Giveaway at Casual Readers

Friday, September 19
Review & Giveaway at Book Nerd

Monday, September 22
Review at A Book Geek

Tuesday, September 23
Review & Giveaway at Beth’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, September 24
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Friday, September 26
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Sunday, September 28
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Monday, September 29
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Book Dilettante

 photo 7df9854e-554f-45b2-a041-76990d9737f6.png


11 thoughts on “Dark Aemilia: A Novel of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady by Sally O’Reilly, review AND Giveaway (5 copies)

  1. Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win,by fearing to attempt. Measure for measure act 1 scene IV

  2. “I see a woman may be made a fool,
    If she had not a spirit to resist.”
    (Taming of the Shrew)

    Je suis la Renard! 😉

  3. “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves” (Julius Ceasar)

    I find this such a hopeful quote 🙂

  4. I always loved this one:

    My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
    Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
    If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
    If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
    I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
    But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
    And in some perfumes is there more delight
    Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
    I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
    That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
    I grant I never saw a goddess go;
    My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
    And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
    As any she belied with false compare.” (Sonnet 130)

  5. “O, how much more doth beauty beauteous seem
    By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!
    The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
    For that sweet odor which doth in it live.
    The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye
    As the perfumed tincture of the roses,
    Hang on such thorns and play as wantonly
    When summer’s breath their masked buds discloses:
    But, for their virtue only is their show,
    They live unwoo’d and unrespected fade,
    Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so;
    Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odors made:
    And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,
    When that shall fade, my verse distills your truth.” Sonnet LIV.
    Annette @

  6. My tongue will tell the anger of my heart, or else my heart concealing it will break.

  7. “But thy eternal summer shall not fade
    Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
    Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
    When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
    So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. ”

    – this is just a portion of sonnet 18. I just love it!

  8. Midsummer’s Night Dream

    …” His mother was one of my worshippers, and we always used to gossip together at night in India, sitting together by the ocean and watching the merchant ships sailing on the ocean. We used to laugh to see the sails fill up with wind so that they looked like they had big, pregnant bellies, as if the wind had gotten them pregnant. She would imitate them—since she was already pregnant with the little boy—and she would go sailing over the land herself to go get me little presents, and come back carrying gifts like she was a ship coming back from a voyage….”

  9. Thanks for this great giveaway. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Sonnet 18. My ultimate favorite ever.

  10. in black ink my love may still shine bright. – sonnet 65.

    I wonder if Dark Aemilia is based on Sonnet 130?
    My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
    Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
    If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
    If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
    I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
    But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
    And in some perfumes is there more delight

    kinda sounds like it 😉

    email address: sensitivemuse [at]

  11. Oh my!!! I am so intrigued to read this book…everyones comments just enhanced my desire! 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s